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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Do You Need A Passport For That?

Everyone who has had any kind of job relishes the opportunity to blow off steam about work from time to time. As someone who worked in retail and banking for many years, I treasured the moments when I could tell someone about what happened to me at work that day. Sometimes it would be good, sometimes bad, and with any luck either touchingly sweet or downright hysterical. It seems that just saying things out loud can take away some of the stress and make things feel better. Smarter people than me have realized this and gone to school to become therapists. A therapist is someone who listens like they are your friend, and then sends you a bill. So clever.

I feel sorry for people who really can't talk about what happens on their job. A CIA operative, for example, can't come home and tell her husband about the international spy ring that she single-handedly destroyed after six months of snooping. And it's not like a judge can come home after a day on the bench and say, "Honey, you should have seen this weaselly defense attorney trying to keep his client from going to jail for murder!" Heck, one glass of wine too many and the spy rings would know who was after them, and the murderer would be out of jail because of a mistrial.

Speaking of legal matters, my attorney cousin had an interaction with a client that he just had to talk about. Luckily, it wasn't anything unsavory or sensitive, and was a story that could be told without using a name and thereby breaking the attorney-client privilege rules.  Apparently a lot of people will consult their attorney about all sorts of things that I would never have thought of. I always thought that if you had a legal problem like an unpaid parking ticket or you got arrested or if you needed a name change or such, you contacted your lawyer. He or she would rescue you in your hour of need and you'd pay them and everyone would live happily ever after.

It turns out that people will call (and then be billed for the attorney's time) for all kinds of stuff. "Mr. Shark, can I really get a ticket if I don't wear my seat belt?" or "Mr. Wurm, do I need to go to court to change the address on my voter registration?" And of course there are the people who want to make sure everything is taken care of just in case there is a problem when they are traveling. My cousin was often asked very smart questions about passport rules and other things related to international travel and any problems that might arise. 

One day, he had a client call because she had some concerns regarding an upcoming trip. He answered numerous questions and finally got to the one that was the gem. It turns out that this lady was going on a road trip and was worried about her identification. "Mr. X, I am really worried. I don't have a current passport. I'll be driving to Nebraska; do you need a passport for that?" Somehow my cousin managed to keep it together until he hung up the phone. I guess she didn't realize that Nebraska wasn't another country. It just felt that way!