Dread is the perfect word to describe what I felt about renewing my passport. In past years, it took a minimum of two hours to wait in line and get things done.
This time my survival kit included my iPad (euphemism for a small scribble notebook) and two crossword puzzles, torn from that day's newspapers; Tony is less impatient, so he needed no survival kit.
Our travel agent was there on the dot. He ushered us to a hall filled with people in snaky long queues.
“Three simple steps,” he said. “First floor for identification, second floor for picture taking, and back to ground floor for exit.”
He then gave us the password: “Senior citizen.”
First floor: “Senior -” Some man immediately ushered us to the head of the line. Identification done in exactly two minutes for both Chongs.
Second floor: “Sen -” Some man tossed our passports on top of a heap. In another two minutes, both Chongs were seated on two separate chairs each facing a camera.
The man attending to me said, “No earrings.”
I can't live without earrings! “Okay.”
I can't see without my glasses! “Okay.”
But I am not Grace without them! “Okay.”
My hairdresser says they should always be there! “Okay.”
I smile to the camera.
It took two seconds before I came to, “Did you mean I can smile but can't show my teeth?”
He looked at me like I came from Mars.
On his computer monitor, I saw the photo of someone who doesn't resemble anyone I know. “Nice photo, Ma'am!”
So young and so irreverent!
But, hey, the dreaded two hours took only ten minutes—plus, uh, two additional seconds for that fainting spell. I got no scribbling done; my crossword puzzles remained unsolved.
Grace, not dread, comes to those who have come of age.