A Bad Hair Week

February 1st, 2008
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v6-2-Our IslandsThe flight to the coast was on time and this alone should have been a portent of things to come. Everything started going wrong from the time I reached the airport at La Ceiba; my regular taxi driver was not available and the one I got overcharged me.

Later that afternoon I tried to book passage on a bus going to Tegus, but I could not get a ticket for my 11-year-old boy because he could not produce an ID card. Two taxi fares later I had everybody booked on the Herman-Alas executive express to Tegus.

The next morning after all my luggage was brought into the station, the younger of the two men behind the desk came over and, using his best drill sergeant voice, said to me: “What do you have in that cooler?” I did not know what kind of game he was playing, so I told the truth: “Frozen seafood!”

That was the wrong thing to say. His little beady eyes lit up and his upper lip went pale. An air of accomplishment came over his whole person and he said, “It is forbidden to ship seafood on this bus line.” Though I argued, in the end I had to call my cabbie to take the seafood back to the hotel.

The following day as we headed for the Embassy, the taxi drivers in the city decided to block all the street intersections. The police finally cleared the streets and the trip took a little longer than usual, but we arrived at the Embassy on time.

The Window B affair went off nicely. Miss Wendy Mejia is a courteous, kind and very helpful person. Whenever prizes become available for persons that, without any personal gain, can be kind to strangers, I will recommend her for first prize. The same cannot be said for the gentleman sitting in Window 7, who turned down every single visa application that had gone up to his window. I was looking for a visa for my sixteen-year-old daughter, and when this gentleman turned me down I literally went into shock.

I had this one figured for a sure thing: I’m a US citizen and the child’s mother is a US citizen. I had every piece of paper anyone could ask for–my business permits, my bank statements, the registration form for my lobster boat, a letter from the packing house where I sell the product, deeds for some property, a notarized letter from the child’s mother authorizing the application. I even had my US military honorable discharge form. But this guy never checked any of it. He just said NO. I muttered something in the way of expressing my disbelief, and we eventually got a single application visa for the kid.

I guess we were lucky because we left with a visa unlike some others who left in tears, humiliated and angry at his incomprehensible attitude. Most of us cannot accept rejection; but knowing that there is a legitimate reason for the rejection, not just somebody’s whim, helps to ease the pain. This gentleman’s attitude leads me to believe that there should be more screening and better training in the human resources section of the State Department.

I believe that a person holding such an important position should divest themselves of mood swings, angst, anger, domestic problems, hangovers and personal prejudices before coming to work in the morning. Mister “Window 7” should remember that his citizenship came about by an accident of birth and that mine was by choice and some sacrifice. I´m sorry he’s not assigned to the embassy in Paris. [/private]

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