Did I think the most likely outcome is probably that my passport arrives too late, gets lost in their office, they close my case and I have to start all over again?
Well, for a while there it looked like I was close . . .
A few days ago I received a letter from the IRS. United States official letters are quite distinctive when they land in your letter box - especially if, like me, you live overseas. I have now seen the reality behind printers having 'Letter' setting as opposed to the A4 size that we usually use. United States official letters are just a tiny bit wider and a couple of centimetres shorter than A4. Interesting trivia if you are a stationery junky like me, but I digress.
The letter confirmed my worst fears. It said they had not received my passport and my case had been rejected. I was to start again and send them my passport. The slight problem was that they already had my passport. Hmmm??
It was clear that letters take about a month to to-and-fro and they had already had my passport for two months. Thank goodness I didn't have some overseas relative suddenly die and need to rush off for a funeral or such like.
They only supply you with a postal address, an overseas contact number that is disconnected, and a local 1800 number. No email.
So I rang. Again. At 6am my time and 3pm theirs. The on-hold music is so obviously designed to keep you calm that it does anything but - and 42 minutes of wondering how much it was costing me was not calming at all.
Eventually 'Mrs Smith 2' answered and gave me her very long ID number. When I said I was calling from Australia she was very surprised, but gained some understanding when I explained why. There were several bouts of asking me questions with long periods on hold in between. I amused myself by imagining them all racing around the office to see who had my passport in their in-tray, or going through the backlog pile in the mail room. However, she was eventually able to assure me that the rejection letter was automated, they had received my passport, reopened my case, issued me my tax number (which she reassuringly gave me as evidence) and that my passport was on its way back.
I confess I was surprised that despite every appearance to the contrary, it was all ok.
I ate a chocolate truffle for breakfast to celebrate.
I sent 'Mrs Smith 2' a thank you note.
My passport did indeed come home a few days later - phew!
I am contemplating framing the bit of pale green paper with my US tax number.
Life is bound to throw up some interesting challenges in the future, but for the moment if anyone asks me, 'What was the most challenging thing about setting yourself up as an author?' I have to say it was getting my United States tax number . . .