Fat Chance at the Passport Office

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Write about a character with an unassailable moral compass.... view prompt


Fiction Funny

Ginny’s inner compass was usually impeccable. Her sense of direction and her body’s natural attunement to the magnetic call of the North, rendered her quite steadfast. For the most part, she was relentlessly dogged in her pursuit of moral high ground.

Occasionally she floundered and found herself mired in a swamp of moral dilemmas.

Though her wants and needs were relatively simple, she often became confused about where the line was drawn.

What she ‘wanted’, often boiled down to an acceptance of understanding her true needs. She admired one of the great philosophers of her generation, a man who also happened to be a musician and songwriter. She loved to sing along with Mick as he belted out, "No, you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need."

Sometimes her desires clouded her judgement and then the four cardinal directions would begin to blur. During these times, her needs and her wants seemed to impair her ability to crawl out of the swamp and seek the high road.

One adaptation of a famous Shakespearean play has Mercutio saying, "The best intentions pave the way to Hell."

Ginny occasionally found herself trudging this sad road with her fellow sinners, usually when she was hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

It was during these times that she wavered. Her judgments would then become cloudy and her decisions questionable.

For the most part she was able to avoid the detour.

Ginny had recently applied for a passport.

She'd only reluctantly made the application, mostly because she liked to swim in the buff.

Now it just so happened that one of her favourite spots on the planet to perform this act was in a country which required her to use a passport.

She was not happy about the process of filling out forms and soon found herself floundering, nose barely above water as she descended deeper into a swamp of bad behaviour.

Had she been more skilled at performing acts of subversion, she would've searched for an easier route of entry. 

Her fitness, agility and athletic powers had been greatly compromised over the years. Her crippled body, her need of a cane and occasionally a walker precluded her scaling walls, climbing mountains and forging rivers.

So, she settled for the torture of filling out government forms, tracking down elusive documentation and jumping through a bureaucratic maze of hoops. 

In her darkest moments, illegal entry seemed the easier softer way. In frustration, she knew that getting her equipment through the mountain passes would be a problem. This quandary rendered her confused and stymied her plans for an illegal entry.

She also was somewhat concerned about imprisonment.

She knew that if she were caught, sentenced, found guilty and sent to jail, her chances of survival were not good.

For one thing, she doubted they would to allow her to bring her lift recliner. She needed this appliance to get up and down and used it to sleep.

Also, she did not do well with ‘mean girls’.

She knew from watching t.v. that women's prisons were packed with mean girls and she suspected the guards wouldn't like her that much either. 

No, as much as she hated the task, she knew that a legal route was her best bet.

So, over a period of months she gathered all the necessary paperwork that proved she existed. Most importantly, she had to demonstrate that she had not committed indictable crimes that would close legal doors to her entering foreign countries.

She began with the best of intentions, but soon became overwhelmed. Somehow it seemed easier to make up answers that weren't quite true.

She was greatly troubled by the fact that she lied to the Passport people.

It weighed heavily upon her conscience.

She'd always believed herself to be a trustworthy person, holding herself accountable for bad behaviour and other acts deemed unacceptable by society. Sometimes she was slightly amiss in her timing, but for the most part made her amends in the moment and corrected any offending acts of subversion.

The lie began simply, as most lies do.

The question on the form that created Gin's belief in the necessity to embellish, was in regards to residency. Precisely, length and location of residency over the previous years.

At one time in her life, this question would have posed no problem. Her childhood residency had been exceptionally stable. She was born on her grandfather's small farm. During her first year, her parents had moved a half mile down the road and when she was ten, relocated to a larger, adjoining farm several miles away. Ginny lived here until she left to get married at twenty.

Her stability began to weaken at this point, but by the time she was thirty, she'd found a man who helped her build a life with children and a fairly stable residence.

It was only after eighteen years of enduring a toxic relationship that she chose to strike out on her own. At this point, stability flew out the window.

Over the following years, she managed, more or less on her own to raise three children. Her financial situation left her with few resources and little opportunity to build more on her own.

As her children matured and left home, she found some freedom and less fear for her financial survival.

In spite of this, her living situations remained fluid.

She had attempted living in public housing for several years. She found a building that seemed to suit her well and with great hopes, believed she’d found a home that would be her last.

Her Higher Power had other plans for her and in the course of one year Ginny moved five times. Each move dropped her further and further into a life of chaos. Her belongings became scattered over a number of locations, along with her peace of mind.

Her ability to maintain control, keep her possessions organized, simply disappeared.

She finally gave up.

She chose a dear friend who had never moved in over thirty years, to use as a permanent address.

This somewhat solved her problem and saved Gin from yet another address change on all her identification.

The major dilemma was that Ginny did not actually live with this friend. She was able to convince herself that her overnight stays granted her residency rights.

The reality found her moving about the city, desperately seeking a permanent location to claim as her own residence. So though technically correct, she actually had lied about the length of her permanent residency.

The government forms were rather confusing to begin with and seemed to give her some leeway in the use of an address. She was almost able to assuage the guilt of being deceptive.

Her guilt turned to deep fear the day she received the registered letter explaining that her application had been flagged. She was informed that she’d need to come in to straighten matters out.

She arrived at the office, nervous and fearful that she would be leaving in handcuffs for having fraudulently deceived the government.

As it turned out, the problem had little to do with her residency status. It was her inability to properly fill out the forms that screwed up the application.

She was greatly relieved to have several bureaucrats eventually sort out all the mistakes in her forms. They appeared satisfied at assuring themselves that she wasn’t a terrorist. After all, they needed to protect against those attempting to cause harm and damage with this valuable piece of paper that allowed free travel to foreign countries.

She paid the exorbitant amount of money that would put this documentation into her possession and left as quickly as possible.

She only looked back once to make sure she wasn’t being followed by men in black.

Did Gin lose her fear of being caught out for lying?

Well, for the most part, yes.

Was there any hope that she would completely lose the sense of guilt for practising deception and dishonesty?...FAT CHANCE!

July 12, 2021 09:50

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