Recently at the airport, I fell under scrutiny like never before. I'm generally a polite fellow, asking how the customs officer is and then waiting to answer the few questions they may or may not muster. This process is typically pain free and lasts a minute or less.
This time, a rather heavy lidded lummox had other plans for me. He took my passport, asked where I was going and began staring intently at my photo and then back at me. He did this several times. I felt perhaps he needed my assistance. "That photo's nearly 5 years old, I have a different haircut now" I offered with a wan smile. This had no impact.
I began to shift in place hoping I wasn't about to learn the answers to the very intimate questions on the glove test. Another minute or two went by and the officer pulled out a magnifying glass complete with a light and went back to examining my photo.
"Everything matches except in one place" he said. "There's a blemish on the left side of your lip in the photo that's not on your face. Have you had some sort of surgery?" "No" I answered. "Any kind of dermatological work done?" "No" "Well, look, here's the blemish". "Um, I don't see a blemish".
He took out a pair of glasses and went back to my photo. He then called a colleague over to discuss my face. Thankfully, the other officer was more intrigued by the magnifying glass than anything else. "That standard issue?" "Yes it is! You just have to ask for it, I need it because I'm blind as a bat!" "I'm gonna get me one then!". While they continued to marvel, my passport got stamped and I was waved on my way. The whole thing set me back about 8 minutes which isn't long in the grand scheme but far too long when a blind guy is trying to examine your face.
This brings me to another bit of horror. My passport is ready to be renewed. For the last 10 years, I've been the far too proud owner of two of the finest passport photos ever taken. Don't believe me? Hearken back for a look. The genius photographer made me look far better than I ever have in person. The problem? He's gone from his former location with no forwarding address and no listing for him in print or the real world of the internet!
I fear it shall come to pass that I will join the ranks of those with less than satisfactory passport photos. My Sarkis, my Sarkis, why have you abandoned me?
I will offer a reward should anyone locate him. The reward may or may not involve bad photocopies of good photographs.