February 5, 2007
Or, I should say: “standing in line”, because this is North America and I was queuing for a Canadian passport, this time, not a British one. I waited outside the Passport Canada Office at 240 Sparks along with a great many other people. There’s likely to be an overflow like this for the next three years, now that the U.S.A. is requiring Canadians to show a proper passport at the border. Before the days of heightened security, any I.D. card with a picture on it would have been enough.
(I wrote the following while waiting my turn to be processed.)
Today’s queue is tolerant and good natured. I expect this is because nobody’s afraid of what’s coming at the end of the wait. What must it have been like for the prisoners lining up in concentration camps, or for the soldiers queueing to disembark from their ships on D-Day? There’s an exhibit about this in Ottawa’s new War Museum where you stand in a small space and imagine yourself there. Hell must be full of line-ups moving a metre an hour. I start to count my blessings. At least I don’t have a small baby with me, like some. At least I’m not being wanted by someone at home or at work, so there’s no urgency. At least I have something to read and something to write on. When I arrived here, a young man was enterprisingly selling coffee and sandwiches. Though it was welcome at the time, later some of us weren’t sure the coffee was such a good idea, as there are no “washrooms” on this floor.
During the government workers’ lunch break our queue was practically at a standstill, but after half an hour of this, forward movement became perceptible, and it’s only taken me two hours to reach the entrance to the waiting room proper. People are saying, it’s best to arrive in the afternoon because many have given up waiting by then, but then I hear the officer at the desk advising someone to come back in the morning.
“How early should I be here?”
“Oh, about 4:30a.m. would be best. That’s when we open the building.”
Anyway, I was only in the building for two-and-a-half hours. I have handed in my application and should receive my first ever Canadian passport sometime between February 19th and March 5th.