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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Third Time's the Charm?

For those of you who aren't counting, we are leaving in six days.  We have our shipments arranged, I'm cooking dinners with what we have in the cupboard, I've made packing lists, and scheduled an airport shuttle.  Everything is ready.  Except for Joseph's ticket - it isn't bought yet.

To get to post, everyone has to have two things - an airplane ticket and a passport with the appropriate visa.  When Edwin was born, we had a lot of trouble with the passport and eventually travelled with a tourist passport instead of the diplomatic one we were aiming for.  When Joseph was born, we worked our hardest to make sure that wouldn't happen, and he had his passport by three weeks old and his visa a week and a half later.

So, of course this time it's the medical clearance that is causing the trouble.  Edwin's medical clearance took about twenty-four hours to approve, so I didn't worry about Joseph's.  He had his appointment at four weeks, and I sent in the forms a few days later.

A few more days went by, and I hadn't heard anything about his clearance being granted, so I emailed the office.  Oh, they said, I had to wait 48 hours before the paperwork was updated in the system.

Life got busy, and a week or so later (Tuesday), I emailed again asking about the clearance.  'Oh that clearance?' I was told, 'yeah that will take five to six weeks.'  My stomach dropped as I thought of waiting here and then flying by myself with all four children.  I sent a panicked email back, and was told that if I wanted it reviewed sooner, Brandon was going to have his HR tech (who is so notoriously unreliable that Brandon overheard someone at FSI comment that their CDO had given warning about them) send an expedite request.  Then if the request was granted, the clearance might be done by the end of the week.

So I called Brandon and sent him on the trail of his HR tech while I looked up flights on Kayak and appealed to livelines for help about getting paid back after purchasing our own ticket.  Brandon had no luck contacting anyone, but I was able to find out that we can get paid back, with approval prior to purchasing the ticket.  I was also advised to contact MED/foreign programs, the same people who held my hand through Edwin's birth.

So I contacted them, and was given the numbers of the director and deputy director of clearances.  When I threw myself at the feet of the deputy director, he kindly offered to review Joseph's case by the end of the day.  I said a silent prayer of thanks for everyone's help and did a little dance.  Whew.  Crisis averted.

Brandon called his HR tech Tuesday, with still no answer.  I emailed her and received the dreaded out of office reply.  Not wanting to wait until Thursday to have Joseph added to our orders, Brandon called a supervisor and was told 'well, I don't know anything about it [so don't bother me and can't you just wait until Thursday?]'

So this morning Brandon emailed, and then called his HR tech.  Joseph was added.  Done? Not done.  Now it gets to go to budget so that they can approve the four figures being spent on Joseph's ticket.  Which has to be bought tomorrow or the airline will cancel his reservation.  Back to square one.

Being resourceful, I called Carlson, and tried to have the purchase date changed so we have another day of time to wait for budget to get things done.  The latest day it can be changed to is December 26.  Which is a holiday, so everyone is closed.

When I asked the Carlson lady what I should do, she looked at the flights and advised just to wait and see; if the reservation did get cancelled, there should be enough seats to simply just make another reservation for Joseph.  After all, how many people are trying to go to Baku three days after Christmas?

So here we are in limbo again, awaiting the whim of bureaucratic processes.  I'm sending in that request for reimbursement, just in case we do have to put another $3000 on our credit card that State will eventually pay off.

So now I know about passports and medical clearances.  I'm going to have to have another baby just so I can use all of my hard-earned knowledge and finally do things right.  Hopefully.


Nomads By Nature said...

Oh my. I will pray for you all making that flight without more credit card madness. Why does it have to be so darn complicated?? And why the heck do they keep people in who are CLEARLY incompetent to the point that it is a known water cooler topic. Hope you are able to relax and enjoy Christmas and prepare for the next part of your journey.

sarahflib said...

What a headache! Good luck getting it all sorted out!

UnkaDave said...

Most of the solutions I can think of are probably not consistent with how fond you have most likely grown for the kid by this point. Hopefully you guys come up with something better. Keep us posted.