06 August 2005
Friday, after I finished my exam, we had an unintended civics lesson in Edinburgh.
About the time I was hunkering down on the last of my Photoshop exam, Rick came to realize that his passport was missing. I knew something was going on by the mad rummaging through drawers, but a) I know better than to ask Rick questions at such a point; b) I was trying very hard not to be distracted from what I was trying to finish.
I looked online to find out what our consulate and embassy choices were. From the web site, it appeared that the consulate in Edinburgh handled passport issues. From looking at the train schedules, a train left every fifteen minutes to half an hour; the train took about an hour (depending on which stops it made). A round-trip ticket was quite reasonable at £8.20 for each of Rick and myself.
We called the consulate, but kept getting hung up on by their phone system. “No operator is available. Exiting the system. Goodbye!” I wish it hadn’t sounded so bloody cheery about the whole thing.
Shortly after noon, we arrived at Glasgow’s Queen Street station for our train. The trip was short but scenic, featuring many low-rolling hills, and lots of long sprays of small purple flowers.
I sat at the train station while Rick got his passport photos taken. When he returned, we set off for the consulate. Alas, it turned out to be up a rather steep hill; we’d set off in a downward direction in error. While the climb was brutal on my legs, we discovered a lovely shady patch that was easily twenty degrees cooler than the hot sun we’d just come out of. We emerged onto Regent street, crossing it onto a small side street that was marked “Road Closed.”
When I saw why it was closed, I felt sick: the American Consulate had put up concrete and gated barriers across the street in front of it, closing off the street for everyone else. If we hadn’t made ourselves so unpopular in the world, we wouldn’t need to inconvenience everyone else, would we?
We rang the bell for the consulate; the guard informed us that passport appointments were on Tuesday afternoons. We pointed out that we had a lost passport issue and that we were leaving on Monday.
The guard let us in, x-rayed our bags, then led us into a small reception area, where we talked with a lady who said that they didn’t issue passports there; we’d have to head to London or Belfast (later, I discovered that the latter may not be accurate; Belfast is also a consulate, so why would one issue passports and the other not?). She said that she’d call the airlines and let the London office know, but that nothing could be done until Monday.
When I pointed out that we were flying Monday, she said, simply, “Well, you’ll just have to change your flight,” as if such things were simple during the height of tourist season.
On Sunday, when we finally had exhausted further options on locating thee missing passport, we called British Airways — only to be told that no one from the Consulate office had called them. And, unless someone did so, there was nothing BA could do to help me. We had a non-modifiable ticket and Rick would simply have to purchase another.
One of my fears in all this would be that I’d be on the original itinerary home, arrive in the states for my change of flights, then discover that the modification to the reservation had been done incorrectly and managed to cancel my reservation for my own two flight segments. As a former reservationist, I can speak “split PNR” to people, but I won’t have that opportunity as I’ll be “in transit.”
But I digress.
We took the next train back to Glasgow, then walked Buchanan Street. By the time we’d barely gotten off Buchanan, I hurt enough that we took a break in the first restaurant we saw, which happened to be American 50’s themed. It was ort of disconcerting, really, but the food was fine.
Tired and discouraged, we slept for a bit before heading downstairs to the party floor. We’d arrived back in Glasgow just in time to see the “Lucas Back in Anger” production, but were just too demoralized to take a cab to the Armadillo.
Nevertheless, we did enjoy the Norwegians throwing a party for all, and we did make a token appearance at the League of Evil Geniuses party, though most of the parties were winding down by the time that we finally arrived.