Private Sector Superiority.

Dave Killion — February 17, 2011

I wanted to renew my US passport, so I had to go to Vancouver. This trip involves a car drive followed by a ferry ride followed by a bus ride followed by a train ride, just so the Consul can look me in the eyes as I swear with my right hand raised that everything I wrote on the application was true. And then I took all those rides again, in reverse.

You would think that going through all that time, trouble, and expense just so the government could keep tabs on me would have caused me to flip my libertarian lid, but I had my laptop to amuse me while on the ferry and my Kindle to entertain me on the bus and train rides, so I arrived at my appointment in good spirits. It was only once I started actually interacting with the bureaucracy that my disposition soured. It turns out that the US government, having behaved so badly for so long that it is always and everywhere under threat of attack, does not allow electronic devices into the consulate. No cameras, no IPods, no cell phones, and definitely no laptops or Kindles. And here comes the best part – security won’t hold them for you! So there you are, a stranger in a strange city, wondering what you’re supposed to do with $2,000 worth of electronics in the 5 minutes you have before your appointment.

Thank goodness for the private sector. It turns out that since everybody that visits the consulate has electronics, and the government couldn’t care less how much they inconvenience you, a couple of the nearby vendors will happily guard your gear for $10. I handed my stuff over to the manager at the Quizno’s across the street, and headed on in to the consulate, where I was shuttled from one service window to another. I noticed each window had a small, handwritten sign that said something like, “We are sorry, but we cannot accept US coins.” I started to get all annoyed again, but then I calmed down. After all, it doesn’t matter if the US Consulate will take US bills but won’t take US coins.

Quizno’s will.


David Bratzer says

Wow. That is bizarre… very poor service by the consulate.

— February 23, 2011

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