For those that have been playing along at home you will remember me mentioning how I packed in my job & bought a one-way ticket out of the country in late ’92.
Naturally one of the first things you do when planning an overseas trip is to organize a passport. Seein’ as how I’m half pommy, what wiv Dad being from Essex an all….This means I am one of those fortunates that get to have 2 passports. As a young 20-something about to embark on a trip of a lifetime I thought this was a tad special. So special in fact that I tried to leave the country on my British Passport. Woo hoo, what a lark it would be to leave as an English person. Turns out it wasn’t so much of a lark as a really fucking stupid idea. The kind man at Customs informed me that it was all very well for me to leave Australia, THE COUNTRY OF MY BIRTH, on a British passport but if I had any intentions of returning I would have to obtain a Visa to do so. Yeah. Like I said, stupid idea. I chastely learned my lesson & proffered my Australian one instead. It was a lesson learned.
All through South-East Asia I dutifully handed over my blue Aussie passport, figuring it was an easier & more sensible option. But when we hit England & Europe it was a different kettle of fish. All of a sudden that little red British passport was my key to fast-tracking through Customs.
No waiting in the ‘Other nationalities’ line for me anymore, no sirree. It was akin to be treated like royalty compared to the other poor Aussies & Kiwis that would be lining up waiting for their turn with the man with the stamp. Meanwhile, me & my luggage would be through in a heartbeat whilst my dear Mr was stuck in the ever-increasing line of ‘Other nationalities’ with me toe-tapping & tsking on the other side of the gate.
I happily proffered the little red book in every European country I visited.
Unfortunately, like all good holidays, this one was coming to an end due to running out of money basically. Europe was so outrageously expensive compared to Asia that 3 months in the former we spent the same money that we had in 6 months in the latter.
On our travels we had met & subsequently travelled with an American guy from Chicago. Top bloke & we decided that on our way home we may go via the States & see him before flying home to Australia. Easy.
We were staying with another travelling companion in London by this stage so it was off to the U.S. Embassy in London to get our visas.
This should be a simple affair. Go in, fill out a form. Get them to stamp it Yes & go & have a pint of Guinness at the pub. All good.
First up was the guns. The guns really threw me. Now remember this is 1993, pre war on terror & all that Be alert but not alarmed shite. So guns. And a metal detector.
Ok, I get that everyone hates them so fair enough. As it turns out, had I had access to a gun that day I may well have used it.
Into a room we go. A big room with rows & rows of chairs. With rows & rows of people. Ok, so we might be here a while.
A while turned out to be 3 1/2 hrs. With nothing to drink or eat & we weren’t allowed to leave the room or we had to go to the back of the queue again. I can’t remember if there were access to toilets but unlikely. There wasn’t even as much as a vending machine in the room.
Finally we get called to the counter. Yay it’s our turn. We get to the window & hand over our Aussie passports. I wanted to use my Australian one because we planned to fly home from the U.S. & I didn’t want any hassle with Visas being in wrong passports – remember I have to re-enter Australia on my Aussie one.
The form they get you to fill out asks everything from how long you’ve been out of your own country to who you’re visiting in theirs & how much money we had in the bank. I’m sure I even had to provide my bra size.
The woman behind the counter starts to quiz us on our ‘friend’ in Chicago & what we planned to do whilst there. Um….see stuff?? I’m not really sure what she wanted us to say.
After about 10 minutes of various questions about our travelling habits & our financial situation she handed back our passports with the declaration that she would be unable to issue us with a tourist Visa for the U.S.
Gobsmacked is an understatement. Naturally we asked why. To this day I believe this answer to be the most ludicrous one I have ever heard: “You don’t have enough ties with Britain.”
Ahhh…..No…..that’s because we’re Australian.
She repeated the statement: “You don’t have enough ties with Britain, I’m sorry but I can’t give you a Visa”.
By this stage we are completely bamboozled. In a fit of anger I said to her: “What about my British passport then?”
With that she declared that she would gladly give me a Visa to visit her fair country. Haveanicestaythankyouverymuch.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK??
Naturally this wasn’t going to work out as my dear Mr only had his little blue book & not the Royal Red one that clearly opens doors that I didn’t even know existed.
With this I lost it. Big time.
4 hours of my life had been wasted on these *good-for-nothing tin tank wankers. I went striding towards the exit snarling & spitting with Mr following behind me whispering through gritted teeth to ‘Shut the fuck up before they shoot you’.
It’s a wonder they didn’t. My parting abuse to them was something along the lines of: “No wonder your country is fucked, someone should just blow you all up”.
Yep. I threatened the U.S. Embassy with terrorism. I vividly remember the guy that buzzes you out the door pushing the button very quickly so as to let the crazy blonde woman out before she grabbed a gun & shot someone.
We went & drowned our sorrows in several pints of beer & opted for an Aeroflot flight home to Australia. And that is a whole other story.
I have still never been to America & it’s highly possible that after that little incident that my name is on some ‘list’ somewhere. Just in case.
Linking up with Robomum for The Lounge.
*I don’t actually think all Americans are wankers so please don’t send hate mail.