Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Oblivious to the Obvious

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."
-Albert Einstein

My Spouse and I were apart for fourteen months, a stretch commencing in early 2006. During that time the amount of paper and red tape we were entangled with seemed to be many miles long. Immigration is never an easy procedure and we considered at its end that we might well have become experts. The situation required, among other things, that I schedule a medical exam, and an appointment at the Embassy. Every single step had to be dealt with before the next which might make sense in an ordinary circumstance but hardly when things are colliding and time is running out and one is being told that one cannot do the first thing without the third, and vice versa and so on until all the steps have been taken care of.
We, of course, were ultimately successful and shortly after I arrived we paid a visit to our local Department of Motor Vehicles. I carried my passport that proudly bore a visa, a shiny, new declaration of our hard work and not a little blood, sweat and tears.
I was in need of a new identification card which only this particular facility could bestow upon me. I was, needless to stress, scarcely going to carry my passport about with me in the long term, especially given its new worth.
I silently handed my foreign passport to the lady at the counter. I had, for her convenience and I suppose mine also, opened it for her at the relevant page. Said page had an enormous stamp which bore the heavily embossed words "UNITED STATES" and "VISA" rather prominently. My name leaped out. The photograph was definitely of me. The visa itself was unmistakably an authorised document. Of course, the stamp I had received upon entering the country was as clear as a bell also.
She looked me in the eye, carefully, and said, "have you been to Immigration?"
My jaw hit the floor. My Spouse, standing beside me, was struck dumb.
I did not know what to say. How to sum up fourteen months in a single statement? How to answer a question that should, for all purposes, be deemed an invalid one?
Finally I mustered something. I gasped, "what do you mean?"
I helpfully pointed to the visa, which really and truly did not need pointing to.
"How on earth would I have this if I had not been to Immigration?
I wouldn't even be here. I would not be standing here."
Lamentably she did not appear to hear or understand me.
"Have you been to Immigration?" she repeated.
I said, again, "just look at the page that's open! There is my name, there is my visa." I was thunderstruck, honestly I was.
My Spouse found a voice, albeit an astonished one, and said, "what kind of a question is that?"
"You're from another country," the woman blinked slowly, blankly. "You need to go to Immigration."
Perhaps she expected me to gape, sorry-eyed and begin to weep on the spot and sob that I had known none of it.
Perhaps she thought that I thought she might not notice a foreign passport.
Perhaps she never thought at all.
In any event, given the amount of physical evidence that was positioned under her nose, I consider her nonsensical words to be the most ridiculous, inane and half-baked of any I have ever personally encountered.
I did get the identification card I needed in the end; for that to happen she of course had to realise, to some faint extent, the emptiness of her question.
I do think we learn more from these kinds of people than they ever do from us and we must remember that in order to be able to get through such tribulations.

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