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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Back and the Passport Story

Well, we're back from our holiday trip to Italy and it's time the passport story is told. Let me preface this by saying that the Chang family is known for being extremely absentminded. Members of the Chang family have been known to go tranquilly to the airport only to find out at the airport that they had just a reservation, not an actual ticket. Members of the Chang family have been known to lose their passports not once but twice while travelling abroad, once leaving it as a security deposit at a Greek Isle boat rental facility only to have that facility close before retrieving the passport for a scheduled departure that day.

Meanwhile, the Chinchio family (my in-laws) are known for being super organized. The Chinchios trace the outlines of different tools in the garage to ensure that they will be put back in their proper place. The Chinchios track energy consumption going back many years, decades even, and file everything in its proper place.

That said, on the eve before our departure for Italy two weeks ago, at around midnight, my husband was gathering our documents for our flight out of Newark the next afternoon when with a surprised shout he threw the passport at me in disbelief. Turns out that my passport had expired in August. Frantically, we searched the internet (thank goodness for Google) and found several private agencies that claimed to be able to supply a passport renewal within 24 hours. Still, we needed the passport within something more like 5 hours, not 24, so we were in dire straits. But my husband was calm (as he always is) and we replanned the next day. Instead of leisurely leaving in the late afternoon for a direct train trip to Newark, we left for the city at 6 a.m. to go to the only one of these agencies to have a 24 hour phone access line. We got there at 7:30 and with some fast talking at the counter, we managed to convince them to attempt to get my passport renewed. At first, they insisted it couldn't be done. It would require hanging around for a few hours on zero sleep and then going directly to the US Passport Office to get the passport from the agency's representative. There would be no direct contact with government officials. I had no idea such services existed, but for those of us who are messy and hopelessly disorganized, they are truly a boon (at a price of course!).

Anyway, that's the passport story. We were very tired, but everything worked out.

And as a reward for reading that long long story, here's a picture of the yarn store I visited in Milan. Look at all that yarn! My poor husband had to literally tear me away. Every wall was similarly covered with yarn, but strangely enough, customers weren't allowed beyond the central region. To see yarn on the shelves, we had to enlist the aid of a shop worker. It was very very frustrating to not be able to touch the yarn at will.

Another strange thing is that the yarn shop didn't sell any knitting magazines. My husband says that Italy isn't known for customer service - that selling knitting magazines at a yarn shop would be too obvious and too helpful. Instead, I got some magazines at a newsstand on the corner.

7 Comments:

Blogger Veronique said...

Ooh, I have passport stories too! When I was 12, I forgot my passport (but not my plane ticket), thinking that my dad was taking care of it. But he thought my step-mother was in charge... I got to stay on vacation with them an extra day, so I was happy!
My 14 yr old sister also had an almost disaster: she'd been on my dad's passport since birth, but the evil US customs want *everyone* to have their own passport. Which is something that my parents found out 2 days before their trip to NY!! They made me call the french embassy here in NY, because it was 6 hours later in France and everything was closed... But she got her passport!
Yeah, sometimes it pays to be organized. I wish I could do it.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Angela said...

That yarn store in Parma looks wonderful! We're hoping to go there in March, so I'll have to try to find it. Re passports: years ago I arrived with family at the airport for a trip to Hong Kong, to realize I'd left my passport at home! We had to go home and do the whole thing over the next day (luckily were able to change the tickets). Your husband's family sounds like my father, who keeps a notebook in his car and records every fill of gas so he can calculate his miles to the gallon (and purchases odd amounts so he can get rid of his loose change).

2:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know some of those Changs you speak of, the worst culprit is a guy named Ding, who I believe lives in California. The Last I've heard, this man left a 600 dollar camcorder on a restaurant table while visiting Wuhan, China. Good thing you married well.

anonymous

7:41 PM  
Blogger Typesetter said...

The yarn store in Milano is one I use, although only occasionally because I have a tiny and delicous store right by my office, another near my apartment and several stalls in the Saturday markets of my town. it's called "Centro della lana" and, yes, it's a huge temptation. I tend to silently slide by the wall to sxplore the yarns when I am there. The owners have come to know me and they know I will not dislace or ruin things. The reason they stopped allowing customers past the central area is that (as I have been told) they lost several hundred euro worth of materials to children and adtults as well who would undo the balls, drop them and walk on them or eat gelato on top of the yarn. And refuse to pay the runed material.

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Leslie said...

Looking at that yarn store, I think I've died and gone to heaven. Why aren't there yarns stores in the US of A like that, and particularly in California, Southern California? Do Italians knit that much more than we do?

7:55 AM  
Blogger Typesetter said...

Leslie, actually (we) Italians knit lmuch less. Knitting is so far poretty much limited to the grannies, and few people below 40 knit. Centro della lana is hufe and fabolous, but in MIlano I think there are no more than a dozen yarn shops, including the shops that sell a limited range of yarns and lots of non knitting items. And here we are talking about a city of 2 millions. Overall, Centro della Lana is pretty unique, probably the largest yarn store I have ever visited in my whole life.

4:37 AM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

Hi Connie:
Could you tell me the address (or where about) of the yarn stores? Both in Milan & Parma.
We will be visitng Italy late August/Begining Sept.

Thanks you.
Mararet

11:21 AM  

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