While the renewal process is probably one of the few things the government should be doing, it seems like they make it harder and harder with each renewal.
When I first went into this business it was fairly simple to renew. You reported to the Regional Exam Center with a letter of service and a passport photo and walked out with a renewed license or document.
Now the process takes weeks and costs upwards of $100 or more.
For the most part it is now a faceless on-line and through-the-mail process.
Back in the day it was kind of a fun process. You went to a big, old Federal building and met some fairly cheerful Coasties. The Coast Guard did a halfway decent job of screening out the idiots, with an occasional exception here and there. Still, the Chiefs did a good job of keeping the idiots where they could do little harm and when they did, they generally came to the rescue.
Back in the day as an Ordinary Seaman I wanted to upgrade ti Lifeboatman. There was a seldom used rule permitting people with 60 or 90 days sea time I forgot which) to upgrade if they had taken a Lifeboatman course. Without the course you needed a year's sea time.
Most of the guys just took the Lifeboatman's part with their Able Seaman's test.
I had taken the course in Alaska and wanted to be an OS Lifeboatman. I figured on getting that part of the AB test out of the way. I applied to take the test.
Some runt of a Coastie that should have been punted about thirty yards babbled that I was ineligible as I didn't have 360 days of sea time.
I pointed out that the exception was having a course approved by the Commandant under my belt. The runt still refused and the Chief nearby that was doing something else didn't even look up.
"Show this man the appropriate regulation," he ordered. Then he looked up and me and smirked.
A minute later the little dweeb was reading me the regulation and got to the part where it said 'or 60 days sea time with a Lifeboatman's course approved by the Commandant'. He looked embarrassed and the Chief looked up and smiled at me.
Ten minutes later I was in the examination room taking the written and twenty minutes after that I was taking the practical and I walked out an OS/Lifeboatman with it on my Z-card.
When my document was ready the Chief handed it to me. I asked him a question about my sea time and he one-upped me.
"Give it here," he said and sat me down.
I handed him my paperwork and he went through it and announced I was closer to being able to sit for my AB ticket than I thought.
He looked up at the runt. "This is what we do," he said. "We HELP people. This man is going to be eligible for AB sooner than he thought."
Of course, things changed at that particular REC with the advent of some civilian help added to the staff. I had my file yanked from that particular REC and sent to one a little closer to home where they still help people.
These days most people mail their stuff into the REC. I won't.
Even though it is a three and a half hour drive to the REC I will hand my packet in personally and have one of the women there go through it before she ships it off to West Virginia. She'll check and make sure every I is dotted and every T is crossed so it will go through smoothly.
It's worth the extra effort and will reduce the time needed to get things processed.
To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this:
http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY