I had a lovely time in the UK. Even though the weather was gloomy and it never seemed to stop raining or sleeting.. I still think the British countryside is ever so pretty. And…it was actually nice to see sheep for the first time in four years..
I was on two minds whether to share my little drama at the end of my visit.. as feel a bit of an idiot..but MrD said I shouldn’t pick and choose what I write on this blog.. and should be truthful. It’s a bit long winded.. so will be in installments.. so skip if you like.. but here goes.
Last October my Green Card ran out.. and I shared with you the renewal process.. the hundreds of dollars we had to pay, the forms I had to file and the visit to the Biometrics centre for fingerprints and a photo of me with a bald head. It was so good to get the letter to say my citizenship had been extended and I could look for work and.. more importantly travel
I left Newcastle on the Wednesday. It was a very miserable night. It was very cold and and sleeting. The planes wings had to be de-iced before take off and it was a very bumpy ride. I was extremely happy to see the lights over London
I spent an enjoyable night in a lovely hotel, then I went to check into my 4.15 Air New Zealand flight on Thursday lunchtime. The guy at the check in desk asked how long I was staying in the US. "Oh I live there says I." ‘"Where’s your Green Card" the check in guy asked….. I went cold!!
It suddenly dawned on me that I had never received my new card! I stammered something like… “well I don’t physically have the card, but I have got Green Card status.. I renewed it last year… you can check.” I was asked to stand to one side and had to wait for the woman from Immigration to come… which took about half an hour. Now I know Immigration are only doing their job…. but this woman was very stern and off hand with me… and I was feeling awful. She told me she had contacted the US and they told her that I had renewed it last year… but the biometrics process had only been started on March 30th… a few days earlier and nearly 5 months since paying over $700!
But I had a letter I explained… and I never would have left the US if I didn’t think I was ok.. She shook her head and said "Nothing I can do.. you need to go to the US Embassy.. get a letter of travel and we can let you go… but it wont be today!" She pointed to the clock and it was now just after one… and I knew I wasn’t going to make it
So at the Air New Zealand Desk.. she called down to baggage to have my suitcase off the plane so I could store it. Then she called cancel my seat on that days flight and see if I could change it. Eventually they said I could waive the service charge, pay 250 pounds.. not dollars.. to change my ticket and then pay the difference for the next available flight. Baggage claim phoned up, said my case was ready to collect. The Air NZ lady gave me directions to The American Embassy. She told me to go on the tube and get off at Green Park and then gave me street directions. I wasn’t worried about using the tube as I worked as a Nanny in London in the 80s.. and I was sure they hadn’t changed that much
I went down to baggage claim and rang the phone outside some locked doors. I spoke to a guy..who quite frankly couldn’t be bothered and was pre occupied with talking to other people inside. I gave my case no.. he came back and said it wasn’t there and it would be hours til they found it. Time was getting on so I had no intention of waiting.. so I put my hand luggage in storage (different place) and set off to the tube. I was hoping to get it all sorted out and rebook my flight by the end of the day…
How wrong can you be.. the nightmare was just getting started..