Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mug Shot Me

The other day I went to the passport office with all my needed paper work in hand to apply for a new passport. Among my many documents were two recently taken photo’s of me. What is it about passport pictures anyway?!

When I go through international customs, I normally walk up to the desk and greet the man behind the counter with a big smile and a friendly ‘hello’ in his language (if I know how to). My hair is normally down about my shoulders and my glasses are in place. I like to think that I come off as a rather un-intimidating presence.

So why in the world when I went to get my passport photos taken did they insist that I jump through hoops to make myself look nothing like me? First I had to make sure my hair was back and that both of my ear lobes were visible. Second I had to remove my glasses (which makes me blinder than a bat, I couldn’t even see where the lady was pointing when I had to look straight ahead). Finally I was told not to smile. No teeth, No smirk, no nothing, just a plain straight almost bordering on sour looking face.

The pictures she handed me three minutes later look nothing like me. They looked like they should be flashed across TV screens at the beginning of "America’s Most Wanted". Or that I should be holding a number and dressed in a black and white striped jumpsuit preparing for my incarceration. The person staring back at me looked angry, and hostel and just …BAD.

One of my best friends had her passport renewed last year. The picture looks like a complete stranger. Whenever we go through customs the officers stop her and ask extra questions as a means of verifying that she really is the person pictured in front of them. You would think they would want the most natural look possible, so that it would be a real and accurate piece of identification. If a person wears glasses they should have them on in the photo and so forth.

I had thought about scanning the photos and posting them so you could all see just how bad they really are… but then I got to thinking. Isn’t it embarrassing enough that complete strangers dressed in uniforms all over the world for the next five years will be subjected to looking at such a horrible version of me. I really don’t need to immortalize it on my own web page for friends and family to mock.