Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Pink Card

My husband is truly wonderful. He is funny, smart, considerate, and very handsome with straight teeth and athletic build. He would be perfect (and therefore detestable) if it weren't for the issues of the dirty socks and the crumbs on the counter. It will therefore come as no surprise that he is, in fact, Canadian.

He has been a lawful and tax-paying member of American society for many years. You have to really look closely to see that he is not a Yank. The only thing that is usually noticeable is the use of the word "eh" a bit more than absolutely necessary. He holds a resident visa and carries his green card (actually it is pink). He signed up for the selective service at the age of 18 and can be drafted, assuming the army would ever want a 42 yr old principal, although they could do worse. He has all the responsibilities of a citizen but can not vote. After many years, he has decided that he is ready to take the leap and become an American citizen. He feels strongly about his Canadian heritage, the horrible band, Loverboy, notwithstanding. The only stumbling block to obtaining his American citizenship has been that the US would have made him resign his Canadian citizenship. Recently, he has become encouraged that things have changed and he will be able to become a dual citizen. As a holder of dual citizenship, he would still be able to root for the Canadians in international hockey events, including the Olympics.

But, first things first. His green (pink) card was about to expire and therefore he got to take a personal day yesterday and head into Milwaukee to the immigration building to renew his resident visa. This is usually not a difficulty. Actually, when he first came to the US, he was given an unlimited green card (actually green back then) with no expiration date. Sadly, he lost it a few years ago and it was replaced with his new green (pink) card which expires this year. With typically logical (and therefore flawed) reasoning, he thought he could kill 2 birds with one stone, renewing his current green (pink) card and starting the dual citizenship paperwork with one fell visit.

He gets to the lobby and finds himself along with several other of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Fortunately, he was in possession of a picture ID and he, along with one other lone soul from Africa, got to get past the lobby. Up he went to the main floor to keep his appointment, cashier's check and surprisingly short online form in hand (they will not take personal check, cash, or credit card at immigration). He then waits and waits, of course. He notices that he is the only one on the huddled-masses side of the counter (the guy from Africa no doubt in his own personal bureaucratic purgatory) and that there are 2 women sitting at desks on the other side drinking coffee and chatting. They might have also been eating donuts. If not, they should have been. Finally, he gets to meet with .... Chris. It then gets surreal.

Chris (demands): "So, are you about to be deported?"

Charles: "Uh, no. But I guess you would know before I did?"

Chris (scowling and failing to see the absurdity of the question): "So you are not about to get deported?"

Charles (seeing the error of his ways): "No."

Chris: "Why is your card pink? I've never seen one like this."

Charles: "Um, it was the one they gave me in Portland. Perhaps they do things differently there or they changed the card a few years ago?"

Chris (scowling harder): "I've never seen one like this."

Charles (becoming seriously worried about the future of his adoptive country):

Chris then has Charles sign his name over and over as it doesn't quite match the tiny computer scanned copy they have on file. If you knew Charles' signature, this would not surprise you. It does have the advantage of being, well, difficult to forge. It is also difficult to perfectly duplicate in a tiny box for a computer scan. Finally, they achieve match.

Chris: "Your new green card should arrive in 12-15 months."

Charles: "But the temporary one you just issued expires in 12 months."

Chris (again failing to see the absurdity): "So?"

Charles wisely fled. At some point in the conversation, he did ask Chris how to start the dual citizenship process. Chris had never heard of such a thing.

We have a bet going that his dual citizenship will go through before his next green (pink? yellow? actually green?) card comes in the mail. Actually, I guess to have a true bet, one of us would have to think the green card would come first, something that caused much hysterical laughter last night. That was then followed by dreaming up new Monty Python sketches featuring the green (pink) card fiasco.

So, he still has his old green (pink) card, now mutilated with 2 holes punched in it and a sticker affixed over the old expiration date, but still proudly holding together.

Sort of makes the DMV look like a paragon of efficiency and bonhomie, doesn't it? At least we have always walked out of there with a new picture ID / driver's license on the same visit. That visit might have felt like it took 12-15 months, but at least, in the end, mission accomplished.



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