An American in her Consulate - Part One

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My current level of annoyance? Mild to Mid level.

Earlier today? Try Dawn GLARING at the staff behind their bulletproof ( and apparently soundproof) glass. I was so angry I had Stopped Talking.

See, Emily's passport is coming up for renewal. And Since we live in Canada, we have to use a different procedure to secure her passport. This involves making an appointment. Now normally appointments make my American heart SING. I LOVE appointments. Especially since I have moved to the land of "first come, first served". A land in which I can attain very, very few appointments.  Certainly no appointments for medical care - that is a total "show up at 7:30 a.m. and just wait until you are seen, which usually means that you will be seen between noon and 2 p.m." grab bag situation.

No, we had an appointment. With the American Consulate. Hurrah! Americans! Running American Appointments!

Prior to the appointment, Terrance reminded us that we could not bring our cell phones into the consulate. Um, Ok?  That seemed a little strange. I mean, I've taken my cell phone onto PLANES after having them scanned.  But Hey, Ok. Terrance caressed his phone gently and may have whispered "I'll be back soon" to it before closing the trunk, but lock them away we did.  He also adds that we can not take liquids into the building. Or food.  What this means is that I have been gotten up early, and then denied any food or coffee.

I am almost willing to forgive this since we have an APPOINTMENT and that means ON TIME SERVICE.

We approach and state our business. We are assessed by the guards. One was ready to wave me through until I stopped and stated that I was with THEM. The Non-White members of my family.

Oh. Why were we there? Were we American citizens?  Did we have an appointment?  The first gauntlet passed, we entered the lobby. We denuded ourselves of anything in our pockets, and I put my purse on the scanner.

The guy behind the scanner yells out ( in what I believe was an unnecessarily loud voice) - "WE'VE GOT A CAMERA IN THE PURSE!"

Terrance shoots me a death ray look. I look back at him, and shrug. I forgot about my camera in my purse. I just carry it around all the time, and I forget.  Geesh.

So they confiscate my camera. It can not go with me into the upstairs. I get a ticket to re-claim it and go to the stairwell.

"Didn't I tell you...", Terrance begins with a furious whisper. "I forgot, Terrance. The camera just sits in my purse and I didn't give it a second thought. I just forgot."

We enter a very large, very deserted room. It is filled with chairs. And a Photo Machine. But no people.  Our instructions we to go down the stairs. Go to the elevator and press the Button.

Because there is only ONE button in this elevator. One.

As I press the one and only available button, Terrance says ( and I shit you not) "Did you press the right button?" He wasn't being funny. He simply had not looked at the available options and so was double checking me, as he does, constantly. Since I have never, ever perpetrated a "Buddy the Elf" elevator button pressing rampage, I am not sure why he continually does this. I stare back at him. I point to the available button.

"Um, Yeah. I am sure I did".

It is now 10 a.m. We are in the secret building that can not be photographed.  We are in the one way elevator with its lone button.

We depart the elevator and state our business to the receptionist who waves us over to the "American Citizen" section of the room. This makes my heart happy. After living in Montreal and being the obvious American, I finally have a designated section in which to sit. BECAUSE we are Americans.

We approach the window and speak with the female behind the Glass. We tell her we have an appointment.

She seems unimpressed. "You are American?", she asks. I pause and look at her.

What I want to say is "Are you stupid? Did we not just tell you that we were here to renew our daughters passport? Do I NOT look like and American to you, because I have lived here since 2006 and there has never been ONE person who didn't seem to know my country of origin."   But I don't.

THEN - and this is where I start to really get annoyed - she looks at Terrance and says:

"Are you with Her?", while looking back at me.

Bitch?! Did you NOT just here me say that WE were here to renew OUR DAUGHTERS passport? US! The TWO OF US, both American Citizens produced this here child, also an American citizen.

My eyes get big. My lips purse into a rosebud of anger. Terrance is calm. He is always calm in these situations. As a Black man in America, he has grown accustomed to being asked stupid questions over and over. To get angry and loud is to get arrested. Same at the border when he is questioned about every blade of leftover hay in the trunk ( which must be marijuana ), or pairs of his daughters underwear which fell into his luggage, or the pills with the 12 on them.

Me? I am not used to it. I am a White Woman who, despite her 15 years of marriage and 20 years of togetherness with an American Black Man, still is shocked - SHOCKED - when she gets glimpses of the double standard. I get angry. I get Loud.

I whip around and stare at this woman behind the glass. Before I can answer with the stream of cursing her out that is flooding my brain, Terrance simply says "Yes, I am."

I look at him, Hard. My lips are still pursed as I slide Emily's passport under the ferret hole in the counter.

Now, Emily got her passport when she was Eight.  She, being a pretty typical eight year old, was overjoyed to sign her name on the dotted line asking for her signature.

This female, whom I now have branded in my head with my mother in law's voice saying "Heifer"...this heifer looks at Emily's passport and begins to give ME a lecture about how my daughter shouldn't have signed the signature line FIVE YEARS AGO.

My eyebrows raise. My lips remain in their pursed position.  My shoulders start to go back as I rock back to get my full height on the heels I am wearing.

"Because she really shouldn't have signed this because she isn't 16 and she really should not have signed this here on the line then." She taps the line on the passport with her finger.

I consider my options. Nine of the ten scenarios I consider ends with me being escorted from my consulate by security. All of them involve the opening of my mouth and a stream of words coming forth which would call into question, at the very least, her intelligence and suitability for the job.

2 Baleful Regards:

SUEB0B said...

I don't know what it is. The small power that takes over people's brains? When I came to the airport at 11:45 pm with about 300 other tired people, the dude checking passports (1 of 3) decided that this girl who looked for all the world like a UCLA student didn't look EXACTLY like her passport photo, so he had to find a supervisor. He wandered aimlessly for about 15 minutes looking for the missing supervisor while we all stood, cattle-eyed and dying of tired...and guess what? That WAS the same girl on the passport. Go figure.

But on the upside, my guy didn't believe I was born in my year, because I looked so much younger. WIN.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Maybe it is because I know you and can actually HEAR you voice in these posts, but um yeah. I get this. Manoj is the one who is all "what?" and wants to be NICE and just politely mark out our kids' checkboxes as "white" so not to "cause problems" and me? I am not on the "same page". Seriously, Manoj - what the fuck? Grow a penis and stick up for your kid.

Oh. Wait. I forgot. An entire lifetime worth of history and this nice easy part of watching your kids slide on through.

So, yeah. I understand Terrance's reactions. But I am just as pissed off as you are. And not afraid to be vocal about it either.

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