Friday, March 11, 2005

Welcome to America

"This way Ma'am" a lady with a surgically enhanced frown growled at CJ as she pointed her to the yellow line which meant she was next in line for the immigration booth.

"Over here Sir" I was beckoned the other way to my yellow line by another too officially dressed employee.

5 more minutes passed as the immigration officers stared out the increasingly sweatier travellers in front of us.

I knew from a previous visit to JFK that the security was tight here, but also knew that it wasn't a hassle and was very, very efficient if anything. In fact then, we were in Manhattan about an hour after touching down.

But this time it was just so slow. We were queuing for ages.

After being given our visa waiver forms on the flight, the Captain told us that we had to ensure they were correctly filled out as any mistakes would result in us being sent to the back of the passport queue school style to fill them out correctly. This would be a long delay apparently and probably be accompanied by some rubber glove action no doubt, just for being a fool.

I wasn't particularly worried as my new mate Mike would undoubtedly smooth any mis-understandings out for me though but I still studied my form for a while before filling it in. I then filled CJ's in and shoved under her nose for her to sign as she was too pre-occupied by her shift on 'Mike watch'.

Back to the queue and I was aware of CJ trying to attract my attention - she pointed to her form and pulled her 'you've filled it in wrong, you dope' face. I get this face a lot, it also doubles up as her 'you idiot' face and her 'you really can't be trusted to do anything face' too, amongst others.

She then said something to her guard who nodded, my hope was that in her hue she wasn't suggesting that I was carrying any illegal substances in certain orifaces. But the guard just gave her a pen with which she scribbled something on the form before returning to her place on the yellow line.

I then inspected mine again and I had indeed missed a bit off, how did I manage that? Ah, it must have been when Mike got up to go to the toilet. 3 minutes 55 seconds he was in there that time. What was he doing?

I sweated a little.

"Should I have filled this bit in too?" I turned and said to my line guardian.

"A Firm..." he replied.

And that was it. I held on for the rest but none was forthcoming.

'A firm what?' I was thinking.

Was he pondering his next word? Had he stopped on purpose as some form of psychological trick designed to get me to reveal where the stash of stolen diamonds I was carrying was?

Was he commenting on something firm about my person? I had been working out. Well I hadn't but hey, who cares as long as someone notices?

'Well thank you very much' I almost said.

Hurry up man and finish the sentence before I get summoned by the officer to be stared at. I also thought about saying.

God I hope these people haven't discovered how to read minds yet, I thought about thinking.

Then I realised I was in America.

And he was saying 'yes, you do need to fill it in'.