Monday, October 5, 2009

How Do We Handle Disappointment?

I set my nose to the grindstone about a year ago . . . my mission? To create a medical clinic opportunity overseas. It would take a book to describe the long, tedious process. I honestly estimate that these endeavors have generated about 600 E-mails and dozens of phone calls.

By the beginning of July, the pieces were all falling in place. We had a team of 10 people, a place to go, porters, physicals, shots and I could go on and on.

Then, to stay ahead of the game, I sent my passport by Fed Exp in mid August to get a Visa at the Nepalese Embassy. I did everything correctly . . . sent early, traceable package etc. Then the embassy lost it.

As soon as Fed Exp was able to prove that it was lost I looked at the most reliable way to get a replacement passport. So I canceled some patient appointments and went to the passport office myself. We did an expedited passport process with the most reliable trackable.

Soon, once again, things were looking odd. The so-called Passport office tracking service would only say that my passport had been listed as "routine" rather than expedited. I started calling the passport daily and no one knew anything. I emailed them, left them messages and no one knew where my application was.

Tonight I come home from work and find a disturbing letter . . . my application, with my real birth certificate was in Charleston, S.C. and my check, which I had used to pay for my passport service was being returned. It said my passport application was put on standby and would be held for 90 days.

I started calling the office again. When I got the pawns (the people working the phones) I yelled at them (sorry God) and demanded to get to the bottom of this. Finally, after 90 minutes on the phone, I got to talk to a supervisor. She did some computer research and came up as confused as myself. She had never seen anything like that before. The application was put on hold and no reason was given. She had one theory . . . that was the fact that my check was written for $149.50 when the price had just gone up to $149.85 (35 cents difference). This may have triggered a rejection and putting the application on indefinite hold. But the check was written for the exact amount that the passport person had told me to write it for.

I want to pull my hair out. I was so carefully with every step. I have invested so much energy into this trip. I've bought supplies. I have non-refundable airline tickets. The list could go on and on. But barring some . . . almost miracle . . . I will not be with the group in two weeks.

I haven't had time to even start to make sense out all of this. And as major as this set back feels right now, I know that it is minor in the scope of the hardships and disappointments that others face . . . sometimes everyday. But I feel really depressed right now.

A hot tub soak in the crisp autumn air, beneath the harvest moon and an ice cold Alaskan Amber didn't even blunt the frustrated-depression I feel.


Brian said...

"How Do We Handle Disappointment?" - If we're honest with ourselves, yell, scream, cuss, pray, etc. All the things I suppose you're doing.

I do pray that by some miracle(and that's what getting through the red tape would be) you're able to go with the team. Stranger things have happened.

Trevor Morgan said...

Really really sorry to hear that. Dealing with a faceless bureaucratic machine can be incredibly stressful and frustrating.

If I was feeling like really winding you up I'd say "ah well, dear brother, I'm sure good will come out of this setback" or some equally bland bit of Christianese, but I don't think that would be safe right now ;-)

Personally I have a punching bag hanging in my basement for moments like these. Taking out your frustration on an inanimate object can sometimes help a bit.

MJ said...

I like the punching bag idea. There are different kinds of stress and I think this type is a visceral frustration that a punching bag is helpful for. I think that's why I couldn't sleep last night . . . my body wanted to fight someone.

There is a glimmer of hope. I know that this little matter is pale in comparison to some of the horrible things which we face.

Anonymous said...

Aw, man!!! That is lame!!!!!

pennyyak said...

This does remind me forcefully of the year I spent talking to an insurance company, who never had a record of my prior phone calls or letters. I had to give up, because I could not bring myself to pick up the phone one more time. Screaming was not that helpful. I boiled until well done.

Like Brian, I will pray - that's what we do.

MJ said...

I still feel angry, frustrated and more. Yet, my drive to work this morning, with my insomniatic hangover, I started to think about the curse or shadow of Babel. This, in my opinion, is the curse on human communication. How much we hate those unresponded e-mails, un-returned voice messages not to mention all the mis-communications that happen face to face. Not even to mention those aching unspoken words that never see the light of day.

Jaimie said...

I'm really sorry. It's gotta be so frustrating that this STUPID SMALL THING is causing huge problems. Yeah, hit stuff.