While I don’t recommend losing your passport, if it has to happen, let it be near Seattle so you can visit the Regional Passport Agency there.
My colleague, Kirk Smith, and I lost our passports in a FedEx truck crash in Mountain Home at the end of February. The firm reported the accident (no injuries, thank heavens) as an “extraordinary event,” but not that the passports were lost. Still, we assumed the worst. Since we have an upcoming trip (about 2.5 weeks from now) to Asia and need visas for it, we scrambled to organize a day trip to Seattle’s Regional Passport agency to apply for new passports.
We took the 6:15 a.m. flight to Seattle and arrived at the passport agency two minutes before 8 a.m., when it opened. We went straight to the office and each delivered all of our materials — from the DS-64 form (stolen or lost passport) to the DS-11 form (application for a new passport), proof of citizenship, a copy of a driver’s license, money, a photo and more.
As the man helping Kirk said after we explained the exploding truck: “I’ve never heard that story before.” His first appointment of the day and he already had something to talk about at home, maybe.
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We swore (“hold up your right hand”) that the information on the forms was correct. We each asked if it was possible to get a new passport sooner than the normal “expedited” eight business days. The woman at window No. 7 asked for my return flight boarding pass to Boise (at 12:25 p.m. the same day). She took that, my old passport, and whipped up another form.
“Come back in two hours.”
We have new passports, valid until 2026 (who can imagine that?). The best part: The employees were nice, professional and did their magic to solve our problem.
Now what does this say? On the one hand, I had high expectations for FedEx and was so disappointed, since it’s one of my longtime favorite companies. Then, in Seattle, I was completely and so positively surprised by a government agency coming through for us in such a painless and positive way.
Both experiences were unexpected, but isn’t it odd that I had high expectations for a business firm’s customer service, and it didn’t happen, and low expectations for a government agency, which exceeded my expectations in such a wonderful way.
When I experience something so unexpected and so affirming, I want to enjoy the bliss and spread the news. I told the security guards when we left that we hope not to see them again soon. But still, while I hope you never lose your passport, if you do, the Seattle Passport Agency folks have your back.