A while ago I wrote two cynical pieces about my wife's struggles with immigration:
The Saga Begins and The Saga Continues.
I have a update I'd like to share with those of you that took the time to read my diatribes.
The 7th was a weird day. I found out my uncle JC died. I'm not sure if we ever had a conversation of more than a few words. I'm fairly certain I know more about him than he knew about me (not that I can blame him, I couldn't even name most of my many relatives). He was a memorable character, tough, the product of a rough neighborhood and the type of man you wouldn't want to mess with, even in his later years. He served his country in the Korean war and if I will remember him as anything it is as a man's man. He also had a neck injury which gave him a stiff appearance. I still wouldn't want to mess with him. I am sure there was much more to him than that, I just never got to know him well enough to comment. I don't like dwelling on the loss of others and I'd probably like not to care. It's hard not to though, even if the death of others just serves as a reminder of our mortality.
One can draw their own conclusions; I was in a rather bad mood that Saturday. My wife was pestering me to contact the congressman again and I didn't think it would help to annoy them. It didn't make matters any better when my shower was interrupted by a phone call from her. So, dripping wet I answer the phone with sharp words on the tip of my tongue. My wife silenced them by saying that she got a call from immigration and they had reopened the case. I'm not usually at a loss for words but that put me close to it. I finished my shower and called my wife's voice mail to hear the message for myself.
The man on the phone had a name I can't pronounce or decipher. His accent was heavy and if I was to make snap judgment it would be to question why someone that can't even speak English correctly is leaving messages on people's phones. From what I could tell he had good news. After all this trouble we have someone leaving a voice mail message on a Saturday? He even left a return number and when he would be working. This was astounding. We couldn't get anyone on the phone before, we couldn't get names or numbers or returned phone calls and here's a guy working on a Saturday leaving a message? Wow...
He said he would be working Monday and we decided to give him a call then. We didn't have a interview date yet and we were wary of something going wrong. Monday was my Uncle's funeral. It was a hectic day following a late night. My brother John arrived in town Sunday. After attending a wake, going out to eat, visiting our brother's, then a little domestic dispute (not involving us) at our next stop John and I went to bed late. We went to the funeral on Monday and shortly afterwards my wife and I remembered that we wanted to give Mr. unpronounceable name a phone call. At a family gathering we borrowed John's phone and made the call. He wanted to do something involving the interview over the phone and asked us to call back in around a hour. We said our goodbyes and rushed home. I paced back and forth until 5 minutes after he said we could call back and we made our phone call. He talked to my wife and then spoke to me. From what I could tell he wanted to see what time was good for us to go to the interview. Good for us? Doesn't he know he works for the government? I said as soon as possible, we'd get a hotel room if needs be. He didn't want us to have to do that (we did anyway). He then asked if he could send us a fax and I gave him our number (that fax machine was the best 0 bucks I ever spent, gotta love rebates). A few more minutes of pacing and we had a interview date in hand for the 12th. I called him back to verify we had it and the first thing he said on answering was "The 12th, right?". I could get used to this whole communicating thing.
We raced back to the family gathering (literally, we got a speeding ticket). Later that day, I fired a email off to our contact with the congressman. For the record I believe I wrote my two rants after our last letter to the congressman. Since then I had called and once I knew exactly who was handling our case I wrote a email of a more personal nature. Perhaps this worked because when I updated them on what happened they stated that they'd talked to a supervisor earlier that week. Why this took a couple of years to happen I have no idea but better late than never.
My wife managed to shuffle her off days (and someone canceled a BBQ) to get her off days on Wednesday and Thursday. We picked up our red Sebring rental. It was supposed to be a economy class but who knows, perhaps my wife enjoyed riding in John's (technically Jordy's) Sebring on Monday so much that she wanted to drive one. In either case I appreciate coincidences. Less amusing was the food poisoning or virus that was plaguing me. There are upset stomachs and then there's the whole food won't stay with you for more than a few minutes thing. It really isn't very much fun, the prospect of 700 miles in a car in that condition is daunting. Slightly more ironic and not quite as unpleasant was waking up Tuesday with my neck bothering me great deal. So, I found myself walking about as stiff as my uncle JC (my wife called me a Meerkat) and contemplating the timing of this all.
I was slightly better on the ride up to Atlanta. I could hold food in and if I didn't stop seeing how far I could move my neck right and left my neck might have been better too. We tried to make the most of our evening. You know, considering my wife had a sick Meerkat accompanying her. We scouted the immigration building's location, visited a mall nearby and I couldn't tell my wife not to go to Dave & Buster's because she had her heart set on it (it is a cool place that we don't have down here). I nibbled on my food and grumbled at the arcade machines and at closing time we headed back to our room and got some rest.
John, pocket knives are great. They are not great in federal buildings. Next time you give Michaela a knife please make sure it does not find it's way through a hole and into the inner workings of her purse. The poor security people had to study it for a while before they figured that one out. A while later Mr. name I can't say had us in a interview room. He asked intelligent questions and things went smoothly. My wife got a stamp in her passport, the green card will be in the mail and even our forgetting a photo for the green card was only a minor issue (he told us where to get it and greeted us, with lunch in hand to receive the picture). He also, without prodding answered a major question we had, which was that my wife could apply for citizenship now. He said she had been able to for a while now, a question we had been repeatedly asking and could not be sure of since no one would tell us her status. This all came at a good time since my wife's license expires this month she would have been unable to renew it. We left and visited the area John and I lived in Duluth and after our second trip to Racetrac (why can't we have those around here?) we headed back to Mobile.
I wish I could say the guy's name, even when written down on a form it becomes a mess in which I can not tell the first name from the last name. The efficiency and care he took in handling my wife's case stood in stark contrast to the ordeal up until that point. Years passed, phone calls, letters and trips were taken with no success. In less than a week from the time our case crosses his desk the entire matter is resolved. Not just resolved, but resolved with a level of care and attention I've never received from any government official. We left our phone number in letters and emails and forms at every chance. We asked for numbers and were refused. Then we end up with this guy that's made himself completely accessible to us and it's amazing the difference something as small as a phone call can make. We didn't even get the letter he sent the 7th until we got back last night. Why on earth can't we hire more people like him? I don't care how hard he is to understand, we need to go into what ever Asian country produced him and get about a million more of him. He's a example of immigration working correctly and I'd take one of him over a thousand people sneaking over a fence.
So, that is part three of the saga. I sit here with a better but still stiff neck and a relatively calm stomach. I can now focus on other matters, like why on earth Obama would say Social Security is one of our country's most successful programs..