I am sitting here writing an article that should not be written – at least not by me and definitely not right now. I shouldn’t be in an office setting in the middle of downtown Houston. I shouldn’t be wearing this jacket and button down shirt. I shouldn’t have a shirt on at all.
But here I am 1,147 miles away from where I should be. I had purchased a ticket to Nassau, Bahamas for July 8 through July 15. It’s currently 1:46 p.m. on July 11 and according to the travel section of the State Department I’m not going anywhere for a while. At least not out of the country.
I have come to find out there is no record of me in the Texas Vital Statistics system (vital signs are not good). I feel like Jason Bourne, except I don’t have a lot of passports with different names. I don’t have a passport at all.
Actually, the passport is not entirely the problem. It’s the fact I don’t have a birth certificate. But I suppose I should only blame myself. I was under the mistaken impression that I had a birth certificate. I have a Social Security card, a driver’s license, voter registration card, two college degrees, health insurance cards, a recent jury summons, and a couple of relatives, including my mother and father, who can vouch for the fact that I am Dustin Curtis Bass. And I am rather certain I could pass a polygraph to confirm my very existence. But that’s not nearly enough proof.
What I thought was my birth certificate was a partially filled out delayed birth certificate. My mother, God bless her heart, requested the delayed form in the early 1980s but apparently was uninformed of the process and figured it was as simple as the request. I found out from the kind lady in the passport office, who was safely protected by a 12-inch thick plastic divider, that my “delayed” birth certificate was not good enough. No, it was not good enough at all. She did, however, take my driver’s license, Social Security card, two health insurance cards, incomplete delayed birth certificate, proof of birth from St. Luke’s Hospital, passport application, and a small piece of my soul to see if she could magically approve the overkill amount of personal information for a passport.
After about 10 minutes of pretending to discuss my predicament with the nearby vending machine, she came back and informed me all my information wasn’t going to cut it.
This whole charade I’ve had to go through can only be blamed on one person: me. What kind of 30-year-old, self-respecting, white male doesn’t have a passport? It’s asinine, really. Simply absurd. As an American citizen, I should always be prepared to flee the country at a moment’s notice. And I write this for you – the consumer. I wouldn’t wish this situation on my worst friend.
Ever since 9/11, life has been different for everyone at a global level. And if there are UFO aliens out there then this means you too. If you don’t have a birth certificate–a long form birth certificate with the state’s seal implanted on it–then you’re not going anywhere out of the country. I almost thought I had left the country in 2010 to go to Puerto Rico, but that’s ours too. I really wish America would remove my hassle and just process the Bahamas as an American territory.
So you want to leave the country. Go on a vacation. Get away from it all. So go to the Department of Health Services or the Department of Human Resources or call Vital Statistics and request your birth certificate. If, like myself, you’re not in the system, then just get three proofs of birth: an affidavit from an older relative (get it notarized as well), request proof from the Social Security Administration in Baltimore (which will take 6-8 weeks to respond), and have your grade school find you in their system and have them send you a sealed envelope that shows your name, date of birth, and place of birth. By the way, don’t open the envelope to ensure the information is correct because that will make it null and void. Also, pray it’s not during the summer because the phone will just ring and ring. Everyone at the grade school apparently is on vacation in another country because they have a passport.
When you send the three proofs to your state’s Vital Statistics office they will send you your birth certificate. Only $22 to process and $27 to print it out. Sure, owning your birth certificate is a right, not a privilege, but just think of the $49 as a kind gesture from yourself to your hardworking government employees.
Wait a minute. Tell me you didn’t make the mistake of purchasing that ticket before securing your passport. Tsk. Tsk. Oh, well, what doesn’t kill you only makes you irritable. Cancel your flight, incur a $250 fee (United Airlines), and wait patiently for proof of life to arrive. Don’t worry. You have a whole year to use your ticket again, that should be enough time for the government agencies to send your information.
When your birth certificate does arrive, go back to the passport office (a place I will visit again in the distant future) and purchase your passport. It’s pricey – $110, not including a $25 execution fee. Execution fee? That’s fitting.
Don’t reschedule that flight until the passport is safely in your possession. Having it expedited for an extra $65 can have the passport in your mailbox in 24 hours, otherwise it will take 4-6 weeks. Funny how something that requires at least a month can somehow be done in a day. Maybe they ship all of their expedited requests to David Copperfield.
Once all of these papers are completed and sent in and my birth certificate arrives and I purchase my passport and it comes in, sunshine, beaches, deep sea fishing, and beautiful women here I come.