Beaurocracy steps on my sense of entitlement

December 8, 2008 at 10:52 am 2 comments

American passports are tiny compared to every other passport i’ve seen! Having only two blank pages left i decided it was time to visit the embassy to have more sown in. I’ve heard it’s a basic procedure: you arrive, submit your passport, return and wala!

I arrived at the prison looking compound at 9:30am looking forward to smiling American eyes and voices. Instead i walked into a box with windows occupied by 4 Khmer security guards (3 men who didn’t stop blushing, and a young female guard off in the corner by herself). I was holding my passport as if it were an express ticket to meet with the staff.

Curteously the guards told me that pages were sown in after 1pm. “But i have to work….volunteer…at that time” i lied. I hate being told to go away!

They phoned the other building to ask if i could come in. They answer came, it was no. I persisted. They called someone else and handed me the telephone. With perfect English and a Khmer accent, the man briskly told me to return from 1-4, despite my statements about my volunteer commitments. I asked why i couldn’t just give them my passport now and come back tomorrow to retrieve it. “Because the staff are busy interviewing and we don’t want to loose your passport.” Apparently, foriegners have priority over American citizens at this American embassy.

My last question, which i struggled to ask because the man was grumpy and mumbling in annoyance by now (despite a second here and there of cold silence that reaffirmed my inferior position in the ordeal), was about the procedure for sowing pages. He replied that it takes an hour and that i have two options, i can wait or i can return the next day to retrieve it (in which case, i suppose, they won’t loose my passport). I said thank you for nothing and hung up.


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , , , .

Visa run First day of teaching

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mr. Cambodia « Yelena’s Travel Blog  |  December 17, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    […] Mr. Cambodia A week ago i wrote about the unpleasant experience of going to the American embassy to have more pages sown into my passport. […]

  • 2. teachingchris  |  January 3, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Yeah, what you describe sounds par for the course. We had friends who had a heck of a time renewing their passports until they figured out that one of our students’ parents worked there — then they could jump the line. Painful…hoep you got it done!


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