The Universe Reminds Me to be Patient

Last week, I realized my passport had expired. I’ll be needing it in the near future for travel, and had to go about figuring out the best way to get it renewed/expedited.

I got all my documents together, and showed up at the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, downtown. I made it a point to get there early (the office opens at 8:30), figuring I would be the first in line.

I arrived around 8:15 AM and walked in. The office is more or less one very enormous, long counter with different signs indicating different services at each stage.

I walked down to the passport area, and a woman sitting at a desk told me they didn’t open until 8:30 AM. When I asked if I could wait, she said yes – but that I had to wait outside. So back I went.

Around 8:30 AM, I went back and the same woman told me the passport people weren’t there yet. There was a man who starts at 8:30 AM, but he wasn’t in yet. And another woman who started at 9:00 AM.

I also learned they didn’t have any kind of number or system. All I was told at this point was that there was some “guy” who did the passport stuff, he wasn’t in yet, but he would walk by where I sat.

So I sat and waited.

There was one man who walked by, and after eyeballing him for a good 10 minutes at his desk… I walked up to the counter and asked about passports. At which point, he said the passport people weren’t in yet. The woman I had spokem with said something to the effect that she had already told me this information.

How was I to know? I just knew some “guy” was supposed to be in. This was the only guy I had seen walk by, so I took a gamble. Swing and a miss. More waiting.

As I sat, I became more and more frustrated. The people I spoke with were blandly helpful, but didn’t seem to really care about my situation. I had shown up early, was going to be late to my job, all because someone else hadn’t even shown up to their job. Why state that the office opens at 8:30 AM if people can’t get the services they need at that time?

The longer I waited, the more frustrated I felt. I could see why folks tend to get angry/upset at government facilities.

Around 9:00 AM, a woman walks in and by where I’m sitting. She looks at me as she’s walking by, and asked “And you’re here for…” And I tell her I need a passport. She then responds with: “I take the train with you. Every day for the last five years.”

At that very moment, all the frustration and impatience I was feeling disappeared. In an instant. When I was at the counter, we chatted and she was incredibly patient and nice. In fact, she was helping me and another woman who had shown up, both of us at the same time.

The woman behind the counter was named Deanna, I think. And she apologized for our wait, as she was helping us. I learned that for renewals, I just had to mail my own application in. And Deanna put everything together for me, gave me an envelope, wrote out the address, and did all that for me “because I was so patient.”

I felt incredibly thankful (and also incredibly sheepish, given how frustrated I felt a few moments prior).

What a small world. Here I was, trying to get a document that would allow me to travel far from my home, and it ends up being someone from my very neighborhood who helps me.

The funny thing I realized: there was no need for me to come in early. I could have just taken my normal train, the one that Deanna apparently also takes. And I might still have been first in line.

Small world indeed.

[photo via Monty Allen]

Impatience and Inefficiency
Favorite Quotations
*waits patiently*

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