05 February 2009

Visa Photos, Take One...

So I head out to put my visa application in the mail, planning a stop at Walgreen's to get my photo done. I'd been trying all day to do it myself because I'm cheap, but it's incredibly difficult to set up the camera exactly right so that you get just your head and shoulders and not this:


(I was on the phone to Simon, who was looking up the regs for the photo for me.)

Or this:


(Ignore the state of the bed, I seem to create a playground for the girls to NEST in if I ever try to make it properly...)

Or my very favorite, titled "How on EARTH could I not see that I was that FAR out of the center of the lens?"



I got to Walgreens shortly after four, thinking it would be easy in and out. WRONG. I was to be thwarted in my plan by a Certified Photo Technician Manager type who clearly had an imbalance in his green teeth/acne to authority-given-by-the-store ratio. Ten minutes after I'd told him what I needed, he had the background set up (it pulls down out of the top of one of the rows, not tough), had found the camera used to take passport photos, and was ready for me to sit down. Another ten minutes and we had the picture taken. I wish I was exaggerating.

We then went to the machine that makes the picture into a passport photo. He's clicking along through the screens and ended up on one that says "What type of document is this photo for?" or something like that (with considerably better grammar, of course). Doogie (as I'm choosing to call him) scrolls down and clicks US Passport. Now during the 20 minutes it took for set up and photography I've told him at least three times that this is for a VISA for the UNITED KINGDOM and not a US Passport.

Me: Sorry, did you just click US?
Doogie: Yep.
Me: But this is for a UK Visa, could you click UK?
Doogie: It's the same.
Me: Well, I'd feel better if you clicked UK then.
Doogie: Well, I don't know how to do the UK one so I'm using the US one.
Me: I thought you said it was the same?
Doogie: Well, it is, (here's the important part) but it's bigger on the screen, the head is, and I don't know how to arrange it, so we're gonna use the US one.

(I feel it is important to mention here that I have read, re-read and re-read AGAIN the regs for the visa, the photo, the PETS Scheme to get the animals into the UK, and even the weight and size limits on baggage over the past year and I can probably quote the UK Border Agency Home Office's opinion on all of them if needed.)

Me: You mean the aspect ratio is different? It is, you're right, so can we switch to UK?
Doogie: It's all about the same, we'll just use the US one.
Me: Okay, so when I send this in and they reject it because the photo isn't right, I can just bring these back and get new ones done properly for free, yeah?
Doogie: Well duh. Hey, do you know anything about computers?
Me: What?
Doogie: I'm a computer tech, right, and they're expecting me to use a DOS machine. This store sucks.

He hit continue and then nothing happened. We stood there a few minutes and finally I asked if they would be ready to be picked up any time soon. He said yes, they were printing right now. I had to get away from him before I hit him and so I went to pick up something I needed elsewhere in the store and came back. Doogie was gone, so I stared down another employee until she asked if I needed anything. I said that I was waiting on my passport photos. Doogie, who clearly has superhuman hearing, shouted "Oh, is SHE back already?"

Finally he printed them and then...after I've been in the store for 45 minutes...says "Oh, these aren't right."

Sorry? What?

There was a teeny bluish haze around my shoulders. I told him it was fine, they won't care, it's not the same as if I had a plant behind me, can I please have my photos so I can go? He started ringing me up but kept grumbling about the blue and how they may not accept it (apparently setting it for US when it's UK doesn't matter, but a faint blue in the background will grind the process to a halt).

Me: Look, it will be fine, I did my own photo for my American passport and they took it.
Doogie: What do you mean you did your own?
Me: I mean I took it with my own camera, printed it at home, cut it to size and sent it in.
Doogie: You mean they took that when it didn't come from a professional?
Me: (deciding that I didn't like his tone and whipping out my passport to show him) They sure did.
Doogie: (shoves the bag at me) Have a great night, ma'am.

I know, I should have called a manager when he first refused to change it to UK...Needless to say, I didn't make it to the post office before it closed.

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