Image by Jose P Isern Comas via Flickr
That was a significantly simpler process than I expected.
The plan was to get up at 0600, deal with Oliver, make sure everything was in order so the packers could work without supervision for the day and get to the US embassy by 0745. A mixture of tiredness, mild hangover (for me, not for the sensible one in the family) and bureaucracy ended with us diving into the cab at 0730. I explained we were in a rush to the driver and he assured he would try his best, although it is a 20 minute ride when traffic is good, and we are deep into rush hour.
At this point in the movie, please insert a montage of shots including us undertaking people on the freeway at 120kph, rocketing down the shoulder of the freeway to get a lead on the exit we needed, and overtaking on a no-overtaking section of road with a car coming towards us interspersed with close-up shots of the terror on our faces.
We arrived at the embassy with a great squealing of tyres at 0745.
Twenty minutes of queueing later, we’re allowed through the security checks and metal detectors to the Antechamber of Waiting. There are many people there, all of whom are clutching their numbered chits and an assortment of paperwork and documentation. Noone has a 150 page document like I do, however. I clearly win that battle. Our number came up after only fifteen minutes and we headed over to the counter.
It’s at times like these when my social ineptness really comes to the fore. As the lady behind the counter efficiently asked for each document in turn, I felt a building pressure to deliver those documents confidently and promptly. Sadly, this led to a bumbling ineptitude the likes of which Mr Bean would be proud. This, in turn, led to more anxiety, which increased the bumbling, which increased the anxiety, which.. well, you get the picture.
Fortunately, this was not the interview portion of the process. Back we sat and waited to be called again. I spent my time breathing deeply and trying to put away the excitement and nerves I was feeling.
The second time we were called was maybe thirty minutes later, and we were only asked to provide our fingerprints. I assume that these are now going to be used, along with my picture, in upcoming CSI episodes when they run prints through AFIS or CODIS or whatever the acronym is. I shall be watching for myself.
The third, and final, time we were called was the all important interview. We’d practiced for this. We know each others’ favourite ice cream flavours (coffee and mint-choc chip for me, berry and vanilla for Mirto) and felt ready.
“You work for Lucas?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“And how long will you be staying in the US?”
“As long as you’ll have me! *nervous laugh*”
“Ok, I’ve approved your visas. You can pick them up on Tuesday.”
Is that it? That’s all it took? Wait, Tuesday? Uh oh. This is what I’ve been dreading. You see, we fly on Tuesday. We need to have the visas in hand before Tuesday, right? Right?
“Um.. We fly on Tuesday so can we pick them up sooner?”
“No, I’m afraid it takes two days. They’ll be ready at 2.30.”
So the visas will be ready just in time to pick them up on the way to the airport. That’s cutting it close, but not too close. In fact, there’s an elegance about that and I’m willing to let the Universe take its course. You see it took just two hours in total, the interview was more of a quick chat than the grilling I’d expected, and we are now legally allowed to enter and work in the US.
Now if I can just get San Francisco to scan the same as New York, we’ll be sorted.
Update: Mirto’s side of the story can be found here.