Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Barely 'Pass'ing"

                                                               

My wife and I had an appointment at the Air Force Pass &ID office Monday morning. As a retired officer my card never expires but dependent ID cards are good for four years or so. Well, my wife begins whining about re-newing her card about three months before its expiration date. If I put it off at all the wife will begins speculating that I'm gonna drop her or something...but the real reason is she always thinks she's gonna get "lotto lucky" and get a better picture this time around. 
So we had our appointment on base Monday morning for 8:45. Getting an ID card used to be first come first serve...you walked in, took a number like at the barber shop, and when they call your number you get served. But, so many of the troops are deployed to the Middle East, the Pass and ID department are working with a skeleton crew pretty much. So we show up early and we are greeted by a sign at the log in station "Our computers are temporarily down. This is a daily occurrence and they can be down from 5 minutes to 5 hours...please bear with us." So we checked in with a human being, then took a seat. While waiting I entertained my wife by remarking that our internet comes from a cheap cable and goes down once a year. And here's the mighty U.S. government that can't keep their systems up. As usual she pretty well ignored my snark. 
Gadzooks! The system came up within 15 minutes or so and a young male Staff Sergeant called us to Station One. The office has three work stations, equipped with state of the art 1990 equipment! They have a cheap camera mounted on a little table facing the client in the opposite chair, a computer, a little electronic fingerprint device and a little machine that laminates the newly printed card. The card itself is a marvel of fraud protection...there are five holograms on the front and all kinds of gobbledygook code on the back. (The cards are read by a cop at the gate using an electronic scanner). Well the nice fellow took my wife's old ID card and entered some code stuff and ten minutes later her record finally appeared on the screen (If you haven't filched a candy bar in the commissary, or gotten too many speeding tickets on base...or shown no inclination to join ISIS, they'll renew your card.) 
Well, the fellow tried to take the wife's picture and the little $60 dollar camera didn't work. So he slid his chair back and ask the sweet female Staff Sergeant at Station II if she would take the pic and finish the card process. Well, my wife is thrilled when she gets a chance to make a "jokie" so she blurts "oh, my I broke the camera...tee hee and earned a smile from all around. 
We then moved to Station II and the lady Staff Sergeant tried to take my wife' pic and hers wouldn't work either. Again, my wife's joke (less laughter this time) So the girl said "Oh boy..do I love crawling under my desk when I'm wearing my blues", then crawled under there and jiggled some connections and finally got the camera up and working. Well my wife finally got her card and then the girl said "Captain Friend, let's get you a new ID card while you're here". And I said "but mine doesn't expire". Then she told me that the new one was safer (even more gobbledygook code on the back and also the new one doesn't list my social security number..that it's coded and I'm protected more. I reluctantly surrendered my ID card. I say reluctant because about five years ago I was going through the gate and the guard advised me to get a new ID card (he just couldn't stand the idea that my pic was taken at 42 or so and I was handsome as hell only on that old ID card! 
Well, I gave it up this time and she took it, entered some code, pulled up my military record, then asked me to stick each index finger on that little electronic fingerprint device. Well, that damn thing didn't work either..just kept going with little red flashes and wouldn't record my divine finger swirls. She then reaches over a places her pretty hand over my finger and I have to admit I got a bit excited by this (luckily my wife had already deserted me and gone out into the hallway to eye the new pic on her new card. Finally the fingerprint doo-hicky recognized me and that part was over. The pretty girl (sorry this is not politically correct but she WAS a dish!) then asked me to smile for the camera. Flick! Pic done. 
So she puts my card through the laminating machine and hands it to me and I take one look at it and nearly fell out of the chair. The camera was so bad my image on this new ID card is ghostly...and I'm not exaggerating when I say I'll look better in my coffin than this picture looks. Well, I'm too much of man to ask a pretty young girl for a card do-over so I surreptitiously slip my card in my wallet, vowing to never show it anywhere they are not offering at least a ten percent military discount...it is that bad! 
So, I walk out in the hallway and my wife still has her ID card cupped in her hands and begins to carp about her poor picture. I then showed her mine and that shut her up about hers! I don't know if any of you have bothered to read this far...but if you have, my condolences.
P.S. If anyone wants to see the ID pic send $10 dollars in a pre-paid envelope or deposit it to my pay pal account and I'll send you a copy...you can use it at your front door at Halloween when the candy has run out.