Before I book a flight to Houston, I thought I'd call the Travel Office at my university and see if they have any advice. They're the ones who mailed my application, and I'm sure they deal with stuff like this all the time; maybe they have some kind of insight. I know from talking to their office before that they have a particular person who handles passports, so I call and ask for whoever handles passports.
The receptionist-type person who has answered the phone says that they do have someone who does passports, but that she herself can answer general questions. Translation: she doesn't think it will be necessary to bother the Passport Lady with my question. Fine. I explain my situation. I applied in April, I'm supposed to travel a week from Saturday, I have no passport, should I go to Houston to get it? She advises me to check the State Department website first. Yeah, I did that. OK, then she has a toll-free number I can call. Say, is that number 877-487-2778? Because I already called that number. Twice. She decides to let me talk to the Passport Lady.
The Passport Lady listens to my story while she looks for my file. She advises me that it is taking 10 to 12 weeks to get a passport right now. I explain that I applied 15 weeks ago. She finds my file. Yup, they got my application on April 2nd. Did I expedite my application? No, I didn't; I foolishly thought 17 weeks would be adequate time. She suggests that I call the State Department again and ask if I can now pay the extra $60 to have the application expedited, and then have the passport overnighted to me. Maybe they would be willing to take a credit card payment over the phone. Say, I bet that will be cheaper than a plane ticket to Houston. Thanks, Passport Lady, I'll try that.