Quantum Leap Journal #19, 5/28/14

06/08/2014 § Leave a comment

The F%&$ing Passport Expired! 5/28/14
I sent off a resume to Berlitz on the 23rd, a Friday, and on the 26th, a Monday, I got a reply with a long application form. On Tuesday I was feeling paralyzed by doubts I could pull this off, with my history of losing my temper, so I took time off for a guided meditation to renew my spirit. On Wednesday morning, I began working on the Berlitz application and cover letters for other job offerings.

The application for Berlitz asked for the expiration date of my passport. What, 2016? I spun around to my desk and pulled the passport out, and blinked twice. It said, April 24th, 2013. I stared at it, my heart pounding. It said, SEE PAGE 27.

On page 27 was a printed message that because I had lost the passport twice in a row, the second passport was for one year only. I had totally spaced it out, and let it lapse for over a year.

I dont have a valid passport at all. Im here illegally. I can’t possibly get my visa renewed before or after June 21st because the passport its stamped in is expired. All the time I worked at my last job I was illegal. And the visa too is technically invalid.

Probably, this was the poisonous item in my records that prompted the Agency to drop me after they said they would hire me last week. But, then, why didnt they just tell me my passport was expired? I still havent figured that out.

I couldnt breathe. I went for a walk. It got longer and longer and longer. I walked faster and faster, got my heart pumping, got my breath going. I began to think things through, and work out a strategy for what to do next.

It so happened that in the afternoon I had an appointment with an old counselor-friend who was back for a visit and booked me. Id known her for a while; she counselled my ex-wife too when we were married; she was the perfect person to see. I had a few hours before that visit, so I called the Tokyo English Hotline, asking for perspective. The counselor didnt sound like he knew a lot, so I was very suspicious when he said I could get another passport issued right away, and get my visa from that. It turned out that he was right, but it took me a while to get there.

Then, I looked up the American Embassy online, and looked for an open date to make an appointment with the passport division. All the dates in May and June were full. I took in a few deep breaths to calm myself. I wasnt sure that they might just arrest me and deport me right there. But the Hotline Counselor said he didnt think they would.

I went to see E_____ the counselor, and she was wonderful. She recounted stories of things like this happening to her, and made it sound normal and dealable. She had me call the US Embassy Emergency Line right in front of her, and he assured me I could get a new passport ASAP. All I had to do was go online to the Embassy site, find an open date, and book it. He told me not to worry about a lack of open appointment dates, that the appointment times are being added and dropped constantly and I should keep an eye on it until I find one useful. He told me I couldnt fly back to America now anyway, not without a passport. What am I going to do after June 21st, with neither a passport nor visa? I would be a man with no country. Shivers.

Later that afternoon, I went back to the site and there were 2 openings for the end of the June– after my visa would expire. No good. But I signed up for it anyway, and trolled the appointment page all day long, until I got an appointment first thing Thursday morning June 5, two weeks before my deadline. Cutting it close, but that will do.

Why O why does shit like this keep happening to me? (To Be Continued.)

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