Day 476: Chewing On Red Tape
Hey America, I've spoken of you often on this blog, as both a friend and a source of occasional annoyance.. but hopefully, mostly as a friend. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for you, having spent seven of the most transformative years of my life in the midst of one of your most famous cities, and have friends that borderline on family still living there. Having said that, I'd like to bring up one of your current domestic issues and where I feel you could perhaps make a positive change.
From what I've gathered, listening as I do to Donald Trump, and the steady stream of wisdom that shoots out of his big mouth, that you're having some difficulty dealing with the influx of immigrants whom some of your brethren feel are encroaching on your native land. To those people I say this.. perhaps you should make it much easier to leave.
Jeannette and I went down to the consulate today after being told on the phone to just 'stop by' in order to drop off our green card, a process I knew wasn't going to be that easy, but one that I still felt would at least be doable. We had Blaze with us, a pregnant Jeannette, and I specifically wore old man shorts complete with a socks/sandals combo making me, and all of us appear as non-threatening and unattractive as possible so that we would get ushered in, do our business, and get out.
We didn't even get in the door.
It took us a while to find parking, downtown Ottawa being pretty crazy today, and walked up the hill to the embassy/consulate, stopping at the first guard post we saw to ask for directions. The guys were super helpful and pointed us to the front entrance which was just down the sidewalk a little farther. Easy so far. We almost had reason to be optimistic! ALMOST!!
I've learned from my many trips to the DMV that patience is the most important virtue to have before going into any government building, in the US or otherwise. My process was always to take everything I thought I needed down to my appointment, wait in line, and then go up to the counter expecting to be told that there's something I'm missing that I need to go back and get in order to proceed. Savvy? It's happened more times than I can count. That's the key you see, to expect to encounter some bullshit red tape that would make the trip a pointless waste of time. If you expect to be turned away, then you're not too upset when it happens and utterly golden when it does happen and even more excited if by some miracle you get what you need to get done all in one trip. Eureka!
I had just finished telling Jeannette that strategy, when we walked up to the front door and encountered our second security man. He was ALL BUSINESS, as I'm sure you would be, manning the outdoor entrance to an American embassy these days. And hey, I'm more than sympathetic to the plight of these people so I wasn't at all put out when he listened to our intentions and told us to wait out on the sidewalk while he went in and told them what we were there for. As we were standing out there a handful of international travellers walked up to the door and tried to go inside as well, but were stopped by our security guy who told them in no uncertain terms to wait outside until he was done dealing with our thing.
This seemed a little strange to me, as I figured it would be much easier to at least have some kind of a waiting room you could put people in rather than having them just stand around outside in a growing line. I said nothing of course, as this isn't the type of place where you want to raise these types of questions/comments. Just as while you're walking through the scanners at the airport you never want to say something like, "hey, these things don't scan internally, right??" That's a quicker route to getting a gloved hand shoved up your rectum than a quick stroll down an alley in Amersterdam on a Saturday night, let me tell you. So I remained quiet and merely watched as yet another woman brazenly walked up to the embassy assuming the front entrance door was actually something you can simply walk in without being an employee or, you know, Barack Obama himself... maybe Kanye West. Not so! She was turned back as well.
When our guy finally came back out to deal with us he said that he was sorry but that we would in fact have to make an appointment to go in and renounce the green cards. ... hmmm... well now see that's exactly what we wanted to do when we'd called the embassy yesterday and spoke to someone. We also left a message with another person, even though the actual human we spoke to just told us to come down and drop them off. Anyway, that was evidently not what you're supposed to do so this guy gave us a website we have to go on where we fill out some kind of a form, stating 'why' we're renouncing the green cards, among other things, and then make an appointment to come all the way back.
I was immediately reminded of the Seinfeld episode where he tries to return the jacket at the clothing store 'for spite'. It's so hard as a former comedian to bite back these reactions when they immediately pop into your head and load themselves on the tip of your tongue. So hard to just smile and nod and say 'thank you' even though internally you're annoyed!!
The problem now is that we're going to be going back to Nova Scotia on Sunday and due to the fact tomorrow is a holiday and we likely won't get an appointment scheduled for this week, we're somewhat screwed. Which brings me to my point concerning America's immigration issue.
Make it easier to leave man!!
What the hell do you care why we don't want to live there? It's not like you're going to take anything we say to heart and make some changes. "Um, we really think you're government is broken and is pretty much causing all the people on your rather large land mass to circle the cultural drain at an increasingly alarming rate." Or perhaps, "Hey America, we had a great time there and all but we were hoping to raise our kids in a place where guns are for occasionally shooting the coyotes out in your back yard, or the odd deer way out in the wilderness, and aren't tucked into the waste band of every yokel with a license and ability to sign an x next to his name at Walmart."
So just let us leave! If you really want to know what the reasons are that's fine, but put a drop box on the outside of the embassy with perhaps a slot for a suggestion box right next to it. Then bing bang boom, bob's your uncle, we're out of your hair. Take us off the stats and fill our spot with someone else, perhaps another nuclear physicist from Iran whom you put behind the wheel of a cab.. (I've met lots).
It's really no big deal. We're not from there, so just let us go man. Why all the red tape? If you're so concerned with all the foreigners coming into your country taking ... whatever it is you're afraid they're taking from your citizens.. then let the ones who want to go get out of dodge. I mean look, we're out, it's official, it's no big deal, we have no desire to go back and live permanently, but as I said, we'll like to at least have the ability to go visit. As it stands now, with our green cards, were we to attempt to cross the border we'd be good and screwed.
I've heard horror stories. People get pulled into rooms and questioned for hours and hours; I've actually met a guy that this exact situation happened to. He said it wasn't pleasant and he was treated as an absolute terrorist. I doubt it was that bad, considering the extremes that do occur to people the Amercian government thinks are terrorists, but it was bad nonetheless and nothing I'd want to experience in the future.
So for now I suppose we'll just hang on to them while trying our best to figure out how to take care of it from Nova Scotia. Still, it would have been so good to get it done while we're here. Alas, it wasn't too be. Red tape. The embassy may as well have been wrapped up tight in it. Anyway, no big deal. As I said, I was more than prepared to be turned away for something stupid, I just didn't think it would happen before we even got in the door.
From there we went back to Jeannette's sisters place where she and Blaze took a nap and I worked for a bit. After that we were out again and only just got back from a lovely evening at her friends house, for her sons birthday party. I wouldn't say that I got drunk, per se, but I certainly had more booze than I have in ... well maybe ever, with glasses of wine followed at the end of the night with a "special coffee" made by Jeannette's mom's friend. It was gooooooooooooooooooooood... and as a result, Jeannette drove home.
I'm now going for a walk. My lecture series is now covering the Buddha.
I think I'm in love with him.