Sunday, March 03, 2019

We don't know of any damn foreign countries, we are just the State Department!

Found this gem on the webpage of the US embassy in Finland. Not their fault, it's the whole State-Department-wide:

"Importance notice (February 6, 2019):
Please note: You cannot currently list a “Country” when completing the “Emergency Contact” section on our form filler applications available through Travel.State.Gov (DS-11 and DS-82). Please list an emergency contact in the United States."

For those who don't know, DS-11 and DS-82 are US passport application forms. And they include information on an emergency contact. Without a country, because the damn forms don't have a field for a country.

For fuck's sake! This is our State motherfucking Department. They should fucking know that there are such things as foreign countries, and that addresses should include a fucking field for a fucking country. This is our foreign ministry, meant to conduct our international relations (the ones that don't involve drones, anyway), to run embassies, to provide services to Americans travelling or living abroad and they are either a) not capable of adding a field to a form, or b) not capable of sending an international snail mail if there is a field for the country.

Incidentally, there is no field for email there, either. The form does not predate email, though, because there is an email field for the applicant, just not for the emergency contact. Because snail mail is just what you want to use when you want to contact someone in an emergency. There is a field for a phone number, thank God for small favors. With luck you should be able to fit the country code in there.

The embassy encourages (but does not require anymore, luckily) everyone who can apply for a passport by mail (that's everyone over 16 whose previous passport still exists and is less than 15 years old) to do so.  There is only one unfortunate detail: you have to pay for it in person. Dollars, euros or a major credit card. Well, since I live in Helsinki that beats pankkivekseli that I had to procure the last time around (don't ask me what it is - some Finnish version of a money order - I've never heard of them before, or since.)

Well, it's still a couple of years before I need to renew my passport, so there is some hope that the embassy might get themselves a bank account or something, or figure out the local banking system. They already have an online banking transfer set up for visa applicants, so maybe, just maybe, in a couple of years they'll figure out how to do it for the citizens. OTOH, I was asking the same questions the last time, so probably not.