Sunday, July 15, 2018

Born to be unusual

Having to replace a stolen passport is never a pleasant experience; but sometimes the lack of customer service can provide some amusement.

Thanks to Murphy and his annoying law, I arrived in Brussels only to have my hand luggage stolen while on the train from the airport. It was a classic con with people moving around in the carriage re-arranging their luggage on the overhead rail because they kept changing seats when in fact they were moving my hand luggage around. I reported this to the police and am now trying to replace my passport because of impending travel.

The inside of the passport office is as dreary as any other governmental department but I caught the tail end of a heated argument between one “customer” and the poor excuse for a clerk behind the thick glass. I’m not sure what was going on but the clerk seemed to be the one at fault. Not that this made him change his mind, of course.

I waited obediently in line while the few other people were served. I was almost at the counter when I noticed a poster explaining how photographs should be taken. The new passports being issued contain this new-fangled e-id chip and the photo has to be recognisable by electronic readers. This means that a certain amount of care is needed when getting your mug shot and since I wear glasses, I was worried that perhaps they cover too much of my eyes.

The unfriendly clerk soon verified that the photos I had were perfectly adequate but since my previous passport had been issued from an embassy rather than an actual government department, he had to get verification that I was who I said I was. While he waited for an answer, I sat down and let some other people be served.

One of the other people was a sweet old lady who had a handful of papers and forms in her hand. She thrust them at Unfriendly and he took them with a bit of a grumble. It became obvious to all of us in the waiting room that she was there to apply for a passport for a grand-son based on the answers she gave Grumpy. After one particular mumble, she just looked at him incomprehensibly. He decided to repeat his question in the loudest possible voice and shouted,


Shaken, Granny looked at the collection of papers on the desk and asked him why he could not accept it.

“LOOK AT IT! LOOK AT IT! LOOK AT THE EYES, THEY’RE NOT STRAIGHT!” he said triumphantly. The entire waiting room was silent as Granny looked at the photo, looked at him, looked down again and then said,

“Yes, I know. He was born like that”

I write about all sorts of unusual and unexpected stories that happen to me on my blog. Read more at

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Unexpected Traveller is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Born to be unusual

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By taking off the mask on April 15, 2010 at 03:36 am

HAHA made me laugh at the end. but good luck with the passport situation (if this is a true story) and make sure your eyes are straight in your photo or grumpy may become grumpier

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By Unexpected Traveller on April 15, 2010 at 05:04 am

It is a true, if rather bizarre, story. I know that there are conditions for the passport photos - eyes cannot be covered, etc - but surely whoever wrote them realised that people's faces differ.

Thanks for reading

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