My trip to America

I went to America for the morning.

No, I haven’t discovered teleportation, I spent the morning at the US Embassy in an effort to be granted freedom from the chains of my criminal past in order to be able to visit American shores for real.

The embassy is in an enviable position overlooking Gloucester Square, under clear skies and the sun beaming down brightly.  London at this time was slowly waking up as I strolled towards the embassy wearing my glasses so as to look more respectable in my plea for entry.

I joined the visa queue thankful for the weather after the website warned you have to wait outside in ALL WEATHERS.  We queued like typical Brits and scowled at people pushing in the front of the queue.

We watched the action inside the security gate as one guard was twerking and pretending to slap another on the bum whilst we looked on.  It was nice of him to entertain us while we waited but I would have been happier with them getting the queue moving.

We shuffled from reception to the waiting room, it wasn’t long til I had my first call to have my fingerprints taken, I worried about a paper cut after the website said “YOU WILL BE REFUSED IF YOU HAVE CUTS OR BLISTERS”   Paper cuts are an office managers nemesis, luckily mine had sufficiently healed to allow me to pass this stage.

Then I waited for the next round, holding onto my allocated number 47 as the board reached number 200 wondering if my embassy worker was also busy twerking behind the scenes.

During this wait I learnt a lot about US culture since they bombarded us with tourist infomercials like “There’s More to Maine”  And I felt confused as I know from She’s A Maineiac’s recent post that the slogan is “Yes, Life’s Good Here”

Well, which is it?  Is there More to Maine or is Life simply Good there?  They had a lighthouse, and a man fishing with his son and some Autumnal trees.   I tried making mental notes of everything as if I would be challenged on them later – “What colour was the lighthouse in Maine, or how many fish had the man caught?”  as their hand hovers over the DECLINED stamp.

Next up was Alaska, they had bears.

The next feature was about immigrants, they asked normal, everyday, run of the mill, bog standard Americans their thoughts.  The first replied “I like ’em”  Which was the general consensus.

We then learnt about Chinese people and how they struggled to find their identity in America.  “I struggled to find my identity in America” one said.  On the one hand he’s an American now but on the other he can’t forget his Chinese heritage.  His solution was to write a comic book about a Chinese person in America.   I figured Marvel or DC wouldn’t come calling any day soon.

Finally, right before I lost the will to live, I caught a final vox pop asking normal, everyday, run of the mill, bog standard Americans to name the 50 states, one guy managed 12.

Uninspired by what was on offer via the TV screen, I glanced around the room seeing who I could analyse for my entertainment, I caught eye of a young guy who had made an effort to look smart but obviously never wears a shirt and trousers since the shirt was hanging out, his tie badly knotted and he wore white trainers.  He was pretty much a chav.

Over trots a girl, ironed hair and make up exploded over her face, she sits in the same row and he immediately makes a beeline for her and they strike up a conversation.  I say conversation but they spoke in text speak  like much of today’s youth.  Though I did hear them comparing holidays they had been on, “Napa”  not, not the Napa Valley American’s, this was  Aiya Napa, where teenagers go to have sex with strangers and get hopelessly drunk.

She coyly twirled her hair in her fingers as she listened to him regale her with a yarn about his reason for a visa which was  for a scholarship he had been given for being a sports superstar.   Then he had us on the edge of our seat with his drinking adventure the night before as he only got home at 4am and had to get up at 5am for the visa interview.  I listened to this fantastical storyteller for a while, before I ascertained he was there due to a criminal record like myself.   I pondered what misdemeanor he had made and its seriousness compared to mine to determine who would have been whose prison bitch as a result.  (I never went to prison by the way, just in case you wondered)

I was eventually called for my interview, this lasted the briefest of moments whereby an embassy worker who had his personality vacuumed out earlier that day, questioned me on my past offence.    Recalling the raid by the police on the pub that led to my arrest half my life ago.  “Why did the police raid the pub” he questioned.   This struck me as an odd question, why would I be privy to the undercover operations of the police force?    Frankly I was more concerned with stripping naked and having my orifices explored than worrying what reason they had raiding that establishment.

It was over very quickly as I waited with bated breath on the verdict, mainly so I could decide which brand of bear spray to pack for a trip to New York City.   “We are recommending you for a visa….” he continued “the verdict will be decided in 5-6 months”.

Bureaucracy at work.

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69 Comments

  1. 5-6 MONTHS??!! That’s insane!!! And I like the “worker who had his personality vacuumed out earlier that day” Awesome. Good luck and hope you make it to America soon. We are going in August to NYC for a few days. I’m sure I’ll have a post or two about that excursion into debauchery and fun. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Thanks! My friends just got back, had an awesome time so i will make the most of a visa and do a couple of trips next year, I reckon it should be granted.

      Still waiting to hear from the Canadian Embassy though, that’s all done by post, I should be ok there, usually deemed rehabilitated after 10 years, just need them to confirm for sure.

      Reply
  2. Good plan going to the big apple smelling like a bear.

    You had me hooked and I now realise that I have to wait an actual 5 to 6 real months for the conclusion. You’re killing me Joe!

    Reply
  3. Yeah, I’m with Ape. Five to six months of waiting? How dare they? Don’t they care about your blog readers?

    And I’d really love to know what “more there is to Maine”. ’cause I’m guessing nothing more than rednecks swilling Pabst Blue Ribbon.

    Reply
    • Well if you don’t know the answer! 🙂

      It was great seeing these places I knew people were from.

      I’m hopeful, if Australia let me in before..then again they have history of taking in criminals.

      Reply
  4. The American Embassy guys can be tough. About 15 years ago my wife and I had a 15-year-old niece of hers stay with us and we needed to leave Canada (where I is at) to apply for a student visa for her. The Embassy Guy denied my application to take her to NYC to apply from there, accusing me of being a trafficker in underage prostitutes. We ended up applying from the Consulate in Kingston, Jamaica (Ya Mon!), and we were treated like actual people in spite of the the guy interviewing us being visibly distracted by a championship cricket match that was on the TV. By the way, my wife’s niece got the visa, stayed a couple of years, and we speak to her almost every day on the phone or FaceTime.

    Come to Canada… we also have bears, a tradition of strong beer, bacon-oriented cuisine, and whether you agree with the monarchy still being relevant in today’s world we have portraits of a certain familiar Queen on our money.

    Reply
    • Canada is on the list and have applied to check I am deemed rehabilitated so wouldn’t need any visa, I’ve also toyed with moving there as my partner gets job offers there all the time. I better visit first though. Glad re. The Queen, I would miss her terribly, she would still visit I guess if I make up a spare room

      Reply
      • The Queen still visits every now and then, you won’t have to abandon your “U”s here (colour vs. color), and if you play your cards right you just might get an invitation to come over to my place for a couple of on-disk episodes of Bottom or Top Gear (the real one with Richard, James, and Jeremy and that fellow Stig who never says anything but remains silent with an English accent). I can also hook you up with a couple of pints of sudsy water made according to an authentic recipe that was given to British/Canadian (Canada was a province of England back then) soldiers 200 years ago.

        I don’t mean to speak ill of the U.S. but up here in Santa’s Backyard we are currently experiencing a shortage of former felons, so whatever you were charged with following that fateful constabulatory inspection of your tender areas might actually work in your favour [please note the “U” in “favour”].

        Unfortunately you won’t be able to drive on the left hand side of the road here except in Quebec where the official language is French, not English. In that province you’re supposed to drive on the right but they take a kind of “c’est la vie” or “laissez faire” attitude toward adherence to traffic regulations so you just might get away with it.

        Reply
        • You’re doing a good job of selling it, if I had to go the Canadian embassy they should hire you to make their infomercials.

          Driving no problem since I don’t drive, gets in the way of drinking. It was probably Vancouver I could have moved to, but they set up offices in Montreal too. Good to know on the spellings, I hate that WordPress tries to correct me.

          Reply
  5. Well, they held my passport for 5 months, because I traveled too much to the Middle East and Latin America within the past 5 years and “we would like to further investigate before issuing a new passport”, they treat nationals like crap, I can’t even imagine how they treat other, actually, I’ve seen it.

    Reply
    • I did wonder where you originally hailed from. I have just been to Egypt too, hope they don’t think anything untoward, they can probably see I was on a terrible resort getting suburnt and not leading the rebellion.

      Luckily they didn’t hold my passport and have to mail it to them if I get granted, just aswell, I have other trips to make this year.

      Reply
      • They screwed me nicely. Mine was about to expire, had 8 months left, I thought it was going to be easy, just pay the fees, sign and leave.
        I was so wrong, I had 2 trips planned and paid for (all work) had to cancel because they were outside the EU and couldn’t travel without my passport. Not even to America, I don’t think they want me back there.
        I’m sure it’s because I’ve been trashing Oprah and once I said that I had the Obama’s sex tape. Damn you NSA!

        Reply
  6. Nice imagery. Why is everything such a pain in the ass? And why does it all take so long? This won’t be a problem once the Illuminati create their New World Order. Just sayin’

    Reply
    • I just keep thinking they must think I am going to be a bad influence on America. It was a drug offence so they treat those quite harshly I guess

      Reply
      • Yeah because the streets of NYC aren’t full of people on drugs….

        They’re probably paranoid you’re some kingpin. Maybe the Chinese-American superhero can stop you.

        Reply
        • America better be fun if I have to go through once a year. I’ll start hassling you all for tips if I get it. It’ll save me £9.99 buying a guide book.

          Reply
      • Did you get your rifle yet?

        Reply
        • Sun cream, a good book, ipod, rifle. Check!

          Reply
          • No, I meant, did the USJD send you your assault rifle yet? They did in Mexico, so I thought maybe they did in the UK too.

            Reply
            • I’ll check my mail

              Reply
              • For context:

                The US Justice Department came up with an idea about the drug wars at our southern border: Give narcoterrorists machine guns, and, uh, keep track of them, I guess. They called it “Opperation Fast & Furious.” Of course they completely failed, and the only guns we found again were used to kill a US border guard. Somehow no one was impeached.

                Reply
  7. You are coming to visit if it works out, right? I promise there will be no strip searches… unless you fill out the proper forms and request it in writing three weeks in advance. What was going on at that pub anyway?

    Reply
    • One trip eventually would be to my partners friend who moved from San Diego to Palm Springs, is it still close?

      My pub was raided, everyone had long hair and liked rock music so the police didn’t like it. They would have found more drugs in any other pub but ours was the only one ever targetted, just a bunch of stoners is all.

      Reply
  8. Who knew it was this hard to get into Uhmerika? I’ve only traveled outside the country to three places (yes, pathetic, I know. But international travel is tricky when all my money goes to Disney World where, let’s face it, I can visit 11 countries in one fell swoop — totally authentic!). And while one of those places is Canada which doesn’t count, the other two I had to fly to. And I don’t recall ever needing to apply for a visa. I just bought a plane ticket and made sure to bring my passport.

    Does everyone need a visa to come here, or just special ex-cons like yourself? 🙂

    Sorry if this is the world’s dumbest question. Don’t judge me. I’ll just go back to reading Disney blogs where my knowledge is useful!

    Reply
    • Law abiding citizens are fine to go, many people with convictions still go but lie on the entry form, I like to be honest (now). I can understand why many Americans travel within only, it’s so vast and climates so different you get so many options for varying trips and you don;t have to change any money!

      Reply
  9. I think they just want time to make sure that America is secure enough for a confidant of both Ina and the Queen.
    (Our ego has been bruised a lot lately.)

    If you like, drop me a line whenever in the future you come around NYC. We could grab a beer.

    Reply
    • I reckon they will give it to me eventually, I’m reformed!

      NYC would be on my list so I will do!

      Reply
  10. 5-6 months! That’s insane. But your trip to the embassy was worth it, because now I get to steal the phrase “with makeup exploded all over her face” the next time I need to describe someone who looks like that.

    Reply
  11. Just curious, did you see any of our Pure Michigan ads?

    Reply
  12. LoL!!! I want to hear more about the guy who had his personality vacuumed out! (Loved that line) Do you think he would be a good match for the Ironed-haired girl with the exploding makeup? It seems like they would balance each other out!

    And just so you know Joe. We Americans aren’t as dumb as those videos make us out to be. We’re much dumber.

    Reply
    • 🙂 I think they just interviewed people outside Wal Mart, why do they want us to think you are all like them, I know very different.

      No more to tell on the embassy guy, he was giving nothing away, he never laughed at any of my wisecracks.

      Reply
  13. If they clear you for your visa, we here in NYC will welcome you with open arms!

    Hope you can pop over the bridge to my neck of the woods in Brooklyn. (I can’t imagine what the ads for Brooklyn would show!)

    Reply
    • My friends were just in Brooklyn, they stay with friends there, they recommended many places to go. Sounds like it’s where it’s at these days. I’m lucky to know many NY folk to tap for tips.

      Reply
  14. You have to wait 5-6 months? … and how long is the visa for? …. Meanwhile, a great read.

    Reply
    • Just a year, eventually I may get 5 years. Fair enough, my fault for being a reckless youth!

      Reply
      • But you’ve moved on … oh well … good luck on the wait. if you come to Cincinnati, let me know.

        Reply
        • Your country is just too big, I bet most Americans have hardly seen that much of it. At least if they are like me since I have hardly even been anywhere in the UK

          Reply
  15. Anonymous

     /  July 15, 2013

    Joe Joe, love hearing you are almost here!!! I know you have been wanting this for a while. Make sure you give us Americans a shout when you are coming. And if you want the western cowboy experience I can help ya out on that buddy. Now my next question. Do you have Walmart in the UK?

    Reply
    • I plan on using my visa to the fullest, so much to see though.

      No Walmart, but they own a supermarket chain here, but they never really changed it from what it already was. We don’t really have an equivalent, we have pound shops but they are not on the same scale. A Walmart trip is on my list

      Reply
  16. The fellow with the vacuumed personality is only “recommending” you for a visa and you won’t know for six months? That’s awful. I hope you don’t plan on leaving soon.

    Reply
    • Nah, no plans being made until I know. Sounds ok, they are just going through the protocol. It;s up to Homeland Security now. They do it for anyone who has been arrested or cautioned for anything – if you are honest about it anyway. I’m sure people still go without declaring it but I like to be upfront. Australia let me in no problem and they have similar rules, and Canada should be fine too if it’s after 10 years. I think they are the only three countries that enforce any criminal inadmissibility. It makes sense if someone has just been released from prison for assault, but for crimes going on 20 years ago that were little misdemeanours where you only harmed yourself by doing drugs I don’t see the issue. But then there is no consistency in the law, someone could have abused 10 children and got 18 months in jail and someone else could have not paid their council tax and been put away for two years.

      Reply
      • “someone could have abused 10 children and got 18 months in jail and someone else could have not paid their council tax and been put away for two years” is so very true! It seems to depend on the color of one’s skin in the US.

        I’ve got my fingers crossed that your past will no longer haunt you.

        Reply
        • Thanks! I am reformed! Not that I was ever bad, just a teenager experimenting, no harm done

          Reply
          • I know plenty of those in your shoes. In fact, one friend got busted and convicted of drug possession. He says it was probably the only thing that kept him out of Vietnam, and he never did any jail time.

            Reply
            • I wanted to go to Vietnam too. Ah well

              Reply
              • My friend laughed about it, he was pleased to have been deemed “unsuitable” for military duty. He was enormously glad not to have to go. He’s quite a pacifist.

                Sorry you didn’t get to go to Vietnam.

                Reply

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