A Big Brown Kind of Day

You might need a cup o’ Joe for this one. I’ll try to make it short.

Wednesday night we received three different documents for the adoption of sweet little Bao. One needed to be notarize, authenticated, and apostilled. It’s Wednesday, so I think, wow, if we really try hard, we can get this done by Thursday, overnight it, and have it at the Agency by Friday morning. We have an orphan who needs to come home, after all. There is no time to waste.

So we have a notary come over to our house at 11:15 PM (Yes, you read that right–I’m hardcore, baby) and notarize the one document.

The next day, I drive to Baltimore City to get the notary authenticated. Directions on the Baltimore website said to go to the East building, which I did.

I enter the East building and ask where to get my notary authenticated. “Oh, that’s the building across the street,” the kind officer told me. “But check with the information guy over there to be sure.” He points to another kind officer in the corner.

I ask the kind officer where to go, and he says, “Second floor.” “Of this building?” I ask. “Yes.” (He wasn’t all that friendly, and actually dropped the F-bomb while talking to some guy next to him. (Thinking of bringing the kids to Baltimore any time soon? Don’t.)

I go to the second floor. Nothing looks like the office I need to go to. I find a clerk and after asking several co-workers, she tells me that I need to go to the building across the street. Really? Okay. No problem.

So I go to the building across the street and ask where to go.  A very nice lady in charge of searching bags tells me that I need to go to the second floor. Mind you, she’s holding up four fingers as she says this, very similarly to the way Little Boy G tells people that he’s four. I look at her fingers and then at her face, and repeat, “The second floor?” “Oh yes,” she says. Okay. And so I go.

I get off at the second floor and start looking at the titles on the doors. There are no directories, of course. Every last one of the offices I see says something about CRIMINALS. Criminal this, criminal that. You get the picture. I’m not stupid. I think, hmm, I’ve got to be in the wrong place, and yet, I keep looking for my office.

So I wander through what is actually a very nice, old building and run into some clean-cut white dudes in suits. They’re sitting outside a courtroom. Lawyers, I presume. They ask me where I need to go, and I tell them. One says, “Go to that big room that you passed. That’s where I get all my notaries done.” “Thanks, ” I say, knowing full well that I’m not looking for a notary, but I go anyway.

I get to the room and am told that the place I need to go to is on the 6th floor. “Ah,” I say. I get it, four fingers plus “second floor” equals sixth floor. It’s all clear now. All clear. And so I go.

In the elevator is a very attractive, thin black woman. She punches the 6th floor. Nothing. She grumbles and punches again. “This is ridiculous,” she blurts out. “Sounds like you’ve been through this before?” I say with a little worry in my voice. “All the time,” she said. “Last week I got stuck in it!” Wow, I think. Note to self: walk down the stairs on the way out.

At the sixth floor I wait for just a bit before I actually get my notary authenticated. And the cost?? $1. That’s right. $1. Things are starting to look up.

I walk down the stairs (I am no dummy after all). At the second floor, I prepare to turn the corner when I hear chains. I look to my right and see three very large, hardened criminals. Chains on their feet and handcuffed behind their backs. They don’t look very happy. They are inches from me. My smile, which is always on my face as I prepare to give the polite ‘hello’ greeting, disappears. Images of hostages at the court house immediately fill my mind, in addition to a select group of words that I simply cannot use here. I picked up the pace, turned as fast as I could and ran out to the street to be safe with the panhandlers and drug dealers.

So I go get my car, which is parked in the parking garage a few blocks away. I notice very early on that I’m going the wrong way (not something you want to do in Baltimore, my friends.) I soon get to a place called “The Block.” It’s kind of the strip street of the East Coast, if you will. My gay friend in the office, when I told him where I was going, said, “Oh! That’s right near The Block! Have fun!” “What??” I said, in horror. “Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “It’s far enough away that you’d only get there if you were really stupid.” 

Great. So I turn around and realize why (initial building confusion) I was where I was, and finally get to the parking garage. Whew!

I get to the clerk and hand her my ticket and a twenty.

She says something in gibberish that I can’t hear over the noise in the garage. “What’s that?” I say. More gibberish. I smile and shake my head. “I’m sorry. I can’t hear you.” She raises her voice so that I can hear her and says. “It’s THIRTY DOLLARS.” My eyes widen a bit (quite a bit, actually). “Come again?” I say. “If you’re not a patient at the hospital (Mercy Hospital owned the garage, evidently),” she says, “it’s a thirty dollar flat rate. ”

I smile. “Of course it is. Credit card okay?” She shakes her head. “Cash or check.” And so I write a check for thirty dollars to park for one lousy hour. Great. Good times so far!

Still with me? Cool. So I turn on my GPS to get the heck out of the city and am told by Miss Moneypenny that because I’m indoors I’ll have to wait until I am outdoors for satellite reception. Naturally.

So, I get out, plug in the address of the Annapolis courthouse where I need to take this document to get apostilled. The fabulous Miss Moneypenny sends up a text message saying, “Would you like to emulate this route? Yes or No?” Umm, well if ’emulate’ is your fancy way of saying ‘use’, then yes, that’s what I’d like to do. Next thing I know she’s telling me to turn down streets that JUST AREN’T THERE. “Turn left on Green street.” There is no Green Street. “Recalulating. Turn left on Lombarde.” There IS NO LOMBARDE.  What the f– “Recalculating.”

I go back and hit “No.” Same thing. The streets she says to turn on aren’t there. So I turn her off and on. Ah, that’s better. The streets she says  to turn on are actually there now. We’re friends  again until she tells me to turn right on an overpass that is going LEFT.  “Recalculating.” She says. Was that an exasperated sigh I just heard??

So I get on I-95. Finally. The Interstate. And that’s when the rains came. Gustav, perhaps? No. I’m in Baltimore. It’s likely his lesser cousin Helmut. He might not be in the news, but he is pissed. I can’t see a thing. Windshield wipers are going crazy trying to keep up. And then, mercy. That old Elvis Costello tune, Welcome to the Working Week, comes on. I turn it up and dance and sing my little heart out. ‘I know it don’t thrill you I hope it don’t kill you,’ I sing along, laughing at the irony.

“Recalculating,” she says. “What that?” I say. Yikes, I was supposed to go  south on I-695. “Um, Miss Moneypenny? Could you help me, please?” A triumphant Miss MP takes me the back way to Annapolis. What should have been a 20 minute drive, is now a 40 minute drive.

So I get to Annapolis and am treated like royalty. A sweet little old woman guard welcomes me. “Are you here for an apostille?” she says with a  cute little southern accent. “I am!” I say. “How did you know??” She shrugs sweetly and points me where to go. Ten minutes later, I have a gold seal and am FEELING GOOD!!!

After missing yet another exit, I finally get back to work, deciding that I can FEDEX my documents on the way home from work.

Traffic was horrendous, so my dear husband volunteered to take it for me to FEDEX, where he paid a lot of money to have it OVERNIGHTED to Boston. It should have arrived in the morning. Friday morning. THIS morning.

But, they lost it. No, no. THEY LOST IT. First, they presumed that the office would be closed for the HOLIDAY which is on MONDAY, so they JUST DI’NT DELIVER IT in the morning. Then, when my husband called them, they said, oh yes, it’s right  here in so-in-so’s truck. It’ll be there by 1:30. At 2:30 my adoption agency rep called me with the news that it was missing. I left early cuz I’m not allowed to CUSS LIKE A DRUNKEN SAILOR there. I did that in my car.

I call my husband. “Yeah, he said. It looks like they actually lost it. But if they find it, they’ll send it to our agency rep’s house tomorrow, Saturday.” “Delightful!” I squealed. (ya really think so?).

Darn, I said! (Put in what ever curse word you’d like here. I said them all). Those bad, bad people. (Again with the curse words.) What the heck(…) were they thinking? Where are they? I want to tell them off (throat punch them).

Sigh. SIGH. Just when you think you can control fate, someone steps in to ruin your day. Thanks, Fedex. Thanks a lot. If you absolutely, positively, have to get it there overnight? I’d go with UPS. And will. From now on.



  1. Chandra said,

    August 29, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Wow that was some day! I admit I did laugh a little at your expense about all your directional problems. But it is NOT funny about FedEx. Such a shame, I’m in love with FedEx, they have only been good to me. Of course I live in their hometown so that probably helps! I’m sure it will arrive tomorrow safe and sound.

  2. FoodyMom said,

    August 29, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Chandra..yeah, I know. I loved Fedex until today. I probably will again. It’s not like UPS never lost anything before. But man, they did me no favors today. Thanks for laughing. I’ll remember that when you’re in Moscow! ;-0) kidding. Sort of. 🙂

  3. Andrea said,

    August 30, 2008 at 5:02 pm


    Only you can make something so horrific sound like a storybook filled with laughter. I hope your rep gets the package today, I’m sure they will. Lots of love, The Phipps Girls

  4. Elaine said,

    August 30, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Oh my gosh! I know it all wasn’t funny for you, but your retelling of it is pretty amusing for me! I hope your agency rep got it today.

  5. Colleen said,

    September 1, 2008 at 2:09 am

    I would have ended that day with a margarita, a bubble bath and a good cry. Oh, I hope FedEx found your package and got it to your agency on Saturday.

    (Those driving directions sounded like a nightmare. Your story was funny, but you poor thing! You were very brave!)

  6. September 2, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Getting an apostille can be a nightmare if you’ve never done it before or you have a lot of documents. It definitely takes patience.

  7. Christina said,

    September 3, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Oh my goodness, what a day! I think your Miss MoneyPenny is in cahoots with our GPS “Mikey”… they’re all going to take over the world one day!
    FedEx owes you a refund, methinks.

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