My cruise is back on. I'm going to spend next week on a big ship with my fellow geriatrics.
In order for this to happen, my wife and I had to go to the local USCIS branch to get a stamp in her passport that says she can come back. In order to get this information I had to call the State Department, The Department of Homeland Security and finally the Border Patrol. Interestingly enough, the Border Patrol lady was the most helpful. She said that with my wife's temporary German passport and the magic stamp from USCIS, it would be no problem getting back into the USA after the cruise to Mexico.
The local USCIS office is closed on Columbus Day. I was there at 6:30 AM Monday morning so I should know. After spending this week dealing with the USCIS, I am convinced that there is some plot to try and coerce immigrants to become citizens.
There is a big sign on the front door that says, "Office hours: 7:30 to 1:00". However, if you make an appointment they take appointments from 6:00 to 11:30. This is just the first part of the confusion.
If you call their 800 number they will inform you that you must have an appointment to come to this office and appointments can only be made online. It's something called InfoPass. It should be called, "The Less Painful Enema".
Anyway, we went back on Tuesday and arrived at 7:10 AM. We were shocked to see people already being let into the building. I guess I should mention that it's a two step process. The first step is getting past the angry woman with the "tickets" or "the enema bag". She can either give you a big one or a small one. People with appointments get the small one. We tried to make an appointment, but their earliest appointment was October 20th and our cruise was leaving October 18. So, we had to make a "walk-in" visit.
So, at 7:10 AM, the enema specialist at the front window said that we needed proof that we were taking a cruise. My first though was, "If I am here with my wife for our enema and we are saying we don't have the forms for the less painful one, isn't that proof enough? Do people really just come in and request the most painful enema??" But, my humor is not in full swing at 7 AM so I asked what kind of proof I needed. She said, "tickets, receipts, anything to let me know you have a cruise booked on the 18th".
My work is about 20 minutes away with no traffic. There is always traffic in Dallas from 7 until 9 AM. But, at about 7:35 I was at work printing out the receipt. We made it back to the USCIS office at 8 and requested the really large and painful enema. We were ushered inside by the angry window woman with the Spanish accent. I smiled and said, "Gracias!"
Then they make you empty your pockets, lift up your pants legs, take off your belt, etc. It's not quite as bad as getting on a plane, but it's very close. The guy manning the x-ray machine informed us the he was born in Germany. So, the Spanish window lady lets us in and the German x-ray man says we don't have anything dangerous. He seemed genuinely nice though. I suspect he knew what we were in for and didn't want to be in the line of fire when the sh*t started to fly.
So, at 8:30 AM, we are in our green plastic seats. All the seats are color coded. The orange seats in the back of the room seem to be more popular. They have a big sign over them that reads, "Naturalization". I suspect there are people there to take their citizenship tests so that they too can vote for the lesser of two evils in the next election.
It then occurs to me that voting isn't all that wonderful. As my butt begins to trickle sweat and puddle into my plastic seat, I realize that they are bypassing this nightmare forever. The orange plastic seat is the last plastic seat you'll have to puddle your sweat in unless you are crazy enough to marry an immigrant. It's all a diabolical plan to create more US citizens.
At 11:45 AM, they finally call our number. They got all of the InfoPass appointments over with first. Even those that came hours after we did. We approached the counter with staggering steps and an Indian man was sitting behind the counter. I kid you not. This place is a cornucopia of nationalities. I haven't seen so much diversity since the Epcot Center. And yet they are all here to help us live in the good ol' USA successfully via a large enema bag and tons of shit.