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This Woman Is Certifiable

, , , | Right | July 7, 2021

The post office I work at is the only one in the immediate area that processes passport applications. We’re used to people calling with questions about the process, but this call was special.

Me: “[City] Post Office, how can I help you?”

Caller: “Hello, my husband and I need to get passports. Could you tell me what we need to do?

Me: “Sure. You’ll need certified copies of your birth certificates, a DS-11 application, which is—”

Caller: “Sorry, could you let me grab a pen to write this down?”

Me: “Of course.”

Judging by the sounds, the woman spends the next four or five minutes roaming her house, walking up and down stairs twice. Finally, she comes back on.

Caller: “Okay, what do we need again?”

Me: “A certified copy of your birth certificate.”

Caller: “Cer. Ti. Fied… Birth Cer. Tif. I. Cate. What else?”

I can hear scribbling while she sounds out the words, so I assume she’s writing them down.

Me: “A passport application form called a DS-11. We have them here, or you can go online to—”

Caller: “What sort of birth certificate do we need?”

Me: “Certified. It has to have a clerk’s seal, so the type issued by hospitals generally doesn’t work.”

The scribbling noise starts again.

Caller: “Cer. Ti. Fied. What were you saying about an application form?”

Me: “It’s called a DS-11. You can get a copy from our office or print one off from the Department of State’s website.”

Caller: “We’ll probably come in. Is that all we need?”

Me: “No, you’ll need to photocopy the front and back of your driver’s license or—”

Caller: “What was that first thing you mentioned?”

Me: “A birth certificate?”

Caller: “What kind was it, again?”

Me: *Slowly* “Certified.”

Again, I hear scribbling while she talks. My coworker has been listening to my side of the conversation and looks pretty amused.

Caller: “Cer. Ti. Fied. Birth. Cer. Tif. I. Cate. What else were you saying?”

Me: “Birth certificates, application forms, a photocopy of your driver’s license or state ID, and a current photograph. We can take the photos or you can—”

Caller: “Is there any sort of application form we need?”

Me: “Yes, that would be the DS-11. You can pick one up here at the office.”

At this point, I’m not going to walk her through getting the online form.

Caller: “D. S. Eleven. Got it! So, we just need application forms?”

Me: “No? You’ll also need your certified birth certificate, photo ID, and current photos.”

My coworker has stopped smiling and is now staring at me in a mix of confusion and concern.

Caller: *Cheerfully* “Thank you. I’ll call to set up an appointment once we have everything.”

The instant I hang up, my coworker speaks up.

Coworker: “What just happened?!”

Me: “I… I don’t feel right helping that woman go to a foreign country.”

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