When I first put pen to paper, or to be more accurate, fingertips to keyboard, I never considered writing a comedic scene. Now, having done it in FRANK, INCENSE AND MURIEL, I wonder what took me so long.

Readers ask where I get my ideas. My reply is that everyday life is funny, and even if it isn’t laugh out loud hilarious, seeing the funny side of a situation is an advantage for the writer.

Take for instance something as mundane as renewing my passport.

It begins, of course, with having my mug shot, um, I mean photo taken. Being one of the least photogenic people on the planet, it's not something I cherish. However, as luck would have it, a brand new glitzy store recently opened up in my tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. Better still, they take passport pictures.

Perfect. First thing Monday morning I slap on some mascara, paint my lips, add enough spray so that even a hurricane force gale will not disturb my hairdo, and off I trot to the store. I figure thirty minutes tops there and back, and I'll be done. Easy, peasy.


The woman in charge of taking the passport photos, I was told, does not work today. THE woman? I ask. As in single solitary woman in a store this size? Really?

Well, an employee admitted, eventually everyone will be trained to take passport photos, but it does take time. I am assured, however, the passport picture lady would be in tomorrow.

Fine. Next day I repeat the makeup and hair routine, give myself a little pep talk about stepping in front of a camera, and trundle off once more to the store. Was she there? Nope. And neither was the employee I’d spoken with on the previous day. I decide it might be best to phone ahead before making the trip a third time. Yes, she’s scheduled to work today, the young girl on the line says, but not until this evening.

Terrific. I've invited guests for dinner. Tonight is out.

To make a long story short, it takes another week and a half before the passport picture lady and my schedule jibes. But finally, I have the required photos. Taking them, along with my completed passport renewal form, I make a wild dash to the government office.

They take one quick look and reject the photos. There’s too much light reflected on the right side of my jaw, they say, and the size of my head--not the actual SIZE of my head, just its size as it is positioned within the picture frame--does not meet passport requirements.

So, I return to the store. The woman who took the shots is less than impressed. In fact, she’s furious. But, she does her best to make it right. In fact, she takes three more photos, and in each that unwanted glare is still visible.  

Never one to say die, she moves the backdrop screen. Moves the portable flash light. Moves the camera. Moves the chair. Moves me. It’s time consuming, she admits, but it has to be done. I have to agree.

Just as she’s about to snap photo number four a man who has been hanging around watching the proceedings, shuffles past. The tip of his winter boot catches the base of the backdrop screen which it turn knocks over the flash light. The backdrop survives. The light does not. Rather than apologize, the man offers his two-cents worth on how he would take the photo!

It takes a little more fidgeting with the broken light and the backdrop and the camera, but photo number six is a success. Back inside the passport office, I breathe a sigh of relief when the photos are accepted and I'm told I’ll receive my passport in four to five weeks.

After taking two weeks just to get the photos taken, what’s another month? The upside is I have a funny story to share.

Leave a comment. I'd love to hear what funny things happen in your life.


Sun Singer said...

Hmm, I wonder if the store thought taking passport pix would be easy, but then didn't bother to practice doing it before you got there.


Anne K. Albert said...

Hi Malcolm,
Supposedly they DID train some people, but then they got it all wrong and had to start all over. BUT yes, I agree with you. They thought it would be easy. Wrong!