Today I convinced my workplace to pay for the renewal of my US passport – thank god. My boss has a fixation that they won’t let me into the US without it – even though I visited back in 2000 on my Australian passport without a problem. I decided that if I had to renew it because of a work-related visit, then work should shoulder the cost – $126!! Luckily they agreed. So after lunching with L, we took off to one of the two photo places in the city that the US consulate deems worthy.
“Oh no,” says the woman at the Swanston street Kodak Express Smiths.
“I know they have us on their site, but their information is wrong. I’m sorry.”
I come back to the office and look at the list again. I call the other mob who go by the fancy name of Van Der Toorren in the Block Arcade on Collins street. With an address like that, I should have known there would be a problem. The voice on the end of the phone is cultured.
“Hi, do you take US passport photos?”
“Yes we do.”
“And how much are they?”
“They’re $35 for a sheet of five, and the processing is overnight – you have to pick them up the next day.”
Thirty-five dollars? Right. I only need two photos.”
“We can give you two photos…”
“…but it will still cost you $35.”
“Thank you, goodbye.”

At present I’m dossing in Collingwood – so I call the consulate approved Kodak shop in Smith Street.
“Hi, do you take US passport photos?”
“Yes we do.”
“And how much are they?”
“Twelve dollars for a sheet of six.”
“And how long do they take to process?”
“They’re instant.”
“What time do you close?”

I just have to wonder what those Block Arcade people are actually doing when they are processing their passport photos. Dousing them in liquid gold? Employing Icelandic virgins to seal them with a kiss? I don’t get it.