Tuesday 5 October 2004

Chief Immigration Officer: A Person You Don't Think You'll Meet

The eagle has landed and has 9 minutes left on the 'internet zone's' computer to try to describe my last 24 hours.

Let me sum up.
I almost didn't get IN the (and I use this quite by design) bloody country.

STUPID Carol packed her papers. And shipped them to herself.
So when discussing "Why are you here in the UK" with the immigation officer lady in her headscarf, I ignorantly and wisconsinly told her the truth that "I am here to take part-time classes, but was rejected for a student visa." After all, that was true and it was 2 a.m. in my brain and body, after getting off the plane. I was bleery brained and slow. And convinced that getting in was no biggie.

Needless to say. that put me in a whole other category of scrutiny. I went to the "other" line -- the one where you wonder what those people DID!

I was questioned.
Mark was questioned. (from the other side of course.)
Why do you not have any paper work with you? ( my answer that I was dumb did not go over well.)
Why do you have so many bags, madam, if you are coming back in 5 months?
Why did you ship 5 boxes to yourself?
Why do you have some many things?
Why do the cards from your friends anf family say goodbye to you?
Why did you not come over on a fiancee visa if you are here to be with your boyfriend? (I am sure Mark liked answering THAT one)
What proof do you have that you are going to leave the UK?
What is a life coach?

I realise this all is starting to look bad. They searched all 6 of my bags. I was truly embarassed for all my clothes and the fact that I packed cotton balls.

I waited.

They asked more questions. When my officer told me she has to present this case to the Chief Immigration Officer. That is when I started to blubber. And perhaps when she started to feel sorry for the pitiful ignorant American girl.

So I waited with my bags and my soggy kleenex. They had my passpert, my cards, my little notebook from my purse. I was naked. Mark presumably on the other side of the vast wall of baggage and customs, pacing and getting anxious as the time ticked away.

My headscarf lady (I had coined her) appeared and motioned me forward with my bags. A good sign.

I was going to be granted entry. And the angels at my Coaches Institute convinced her that indeed I really did need a visa to work too.

I am in.
I have a WORKING visa. (a total bonus -- this is what I was rejected for!)
I am in shock.

I take my crap and hightail it outta there and cross the customs line. Mark is there at the end of the line. I ran into his arms and cried.

Feels like I earned the right to be here.

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