As I waltzed under pressure to the tune of my mind’s Allman Brothers rendition: “my sweet Melissa!” I found an empty spot at one of two computers.
I pulled up the application and began painstakingly filling it out. Then, I faced the errors…
I could not believe it. The same nonsense I’d encountered at my home-station was hitting me on their turf.
I made some desperate conversation with the woman next to me to see if she had any insights. She said that her daughter was going to get tech support from someone and that I could wait for the same person to arrive. I felt slightly relieved.
But as I waited, a crowd formed behind me and I became increasingly uneasy, staring at the blank application screen in front of me. I could not tell time. I started to break a sweat.
I was not allowed to speak on my cell phone but Rasanath texted me to find out what was going on. I told him that frankly nothing was working and I’m stuck in limbo. He asked if he should come over there to help. I told him they wouldn’t let him in if he did.
He was surprised. They don’t let anyone in who is not expressly applying for a visa. He asked what I would do. I didn’t know.
After two or five or ten minutes I thought:
I can’t keep these people waiting like this.
I had to get up and do something…
I tried to keep my spot reserved but didn’t have the heart to say not to use the computer in my absence. I took my chances and darted towards the Cox and Kings woman who first gave me my entry number into the system…
I waited for several people to speak with her, as I watched my place by the computer eagerly filled by a bystander, and viewed yet another applicant speaking with my Melissa. I was starting to not even feel like a number in the system!
After some time, I was given a moment to convey my dilemma to the lady in-demand, and she took my Melissa-rejected forms along with my passport and photo.
“I’ll do it,” she said. I was floored.
Before celebrating, I wanted to make sure the application would actually get filled. Under the gun, with more people behind me, our Cox and Kings lady patiently but tensely went through the retyping of my application. As she did so, I gazed at the bulletin board before her desk.
“Strive not to be a success. But rather to be of value.”
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
I opened up my bag and retrieved my planner. I began to jot down the phrases I’d found on the board. As I pondered them, suddenly her head rose from being buried in the computer program.
She was a tall, young, slender, elegantly dressed, light-skinned African-American lady who looked like she’d been preparing each day for a prizefight. I could see why the aphorisms could come in handy…
“Are you writing down the quotes?”
It’s very inspiring…
For the first time that day, I saw a smile in the room.
…that you take the time to find some sanity and purpose amidst the madness…
That’s uplifting just to observe…
She looked me in the eyes, and with a vulnerability I’d never have imagined being awarded the sight of, she told me she tries her best.
I wanted to congratulate her.
She finished typing my application, un-pasted my only goofy photo that I was afraid I might have to throw away from having pasted it to the impermissible form, and re-pasted it to the newly printed application. She refused to accept any payment for the ‘standard operating procedure’ of the printing cost.
My eyes welled with gratitude. I was careful not to show it to my new friend, for fear she’d be embarrassed. I told her I didn’t know what was going to happen with my visa that I had to obtain in six days tops! I spoke candidly:
I really needed this inspiration right now to manage the anxiety myself.
I thanked her and she smiled brightly once more before returning to her barrage of customers.