Tag Archives: Green Card

My Husband is an Alien

Credit Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

“American citizens?”

“My wife is American. I’m a green card holder.”

“Can I see it please?”

Jimmy turned his head to me with that startled expression I could read only too well. Oh, bugger. “Where is your green card?” I whispered, already knowing that it wasn’t on his person.

“It’s in my passport.”

“Which is . . . ?”

“Under the slide.” I blew out the breath I was holding and my shoulders slumped in dismay as he turned back to the Border Control patrolmen, who had already scanned the back seat and open boot compartment of our SUV for stowaways. “It’s in the trailer,” he told them.

“Can you pull over please and get it out for us?” The trailer on the road in front of us had stopped at the checkpoint for only a few seconds and then moved on. We were at least 10 miles from the Mexican border. Why was there Border Control here? As we pulled over I said, “Show them your Washington driver’s license. That should do for ID.” We were naïve about the policing of the Mexican border in Texas.

Jimmy stepped out reaching for his wallet as I leapt out of the other side of the car even though Border Control did not seem the least bit interested in me.

The dark complexioned patrolmen were dressed in plain green fatigues and I have a mental image of them clutching machine guns to their chests. Of course they weren’t. I just thought they should. I felt like I was in a movie.

Jimmy offered his driver’s license as he tried to explain how difficult it would be to get his passport and green card out of the trailer. “I’ll have to get the supports out of the locker and snap them into place in order to pull the slide out so I can go in the trailer and get under the dinette seat and get the file box out to find my passport.”

“OK.”

Well that wasn’t the response Jimmy had hoped for. The patrolmen were pleasant enough but they meant business. Dark hair, dark mustaches, dark glasses, their faces softened a little when they smiled but they weren’t prepared to be too friendly yet. The taller of the two of them, about my height, clutched Jimmy’s license possessively. The other one came up to my nose.

Why is it I find short men with olive skin tones and black mustaches so menacing? Was it because we’d had a run in with a restaurateur of similar stature and complexion in Toledo, Spain? (We were completely in the right and he was completely in the wrong for your information.)

President Richard Nixon, who declared a U.S. 'war on drugs,' meets with Elvis Presley in 1970. In a handwritten letter, the singer asked to be appointed as a 'Federal Agent at Large' in the drugs battle.
Here is Jimmy with Federal Agent Presley. (Don’t look too closely.)
“Can you use my driver’s license instead of my green card?” asked Jimmy expectantly.

“We can run an identity check with it. It could take a while.”

“How long?”

“Fifteen minutes, two hours . . . ?” and then he shrugged.

“I’ll get my passport.”

Being an American citizen with an American passport (somewhere in the depths of our stationery-cum-file-drawer locker) and standing on American soil I, perhaps foolishly, decided to bait the Border Patrolmen. Jimmy would have dug me in the ribs with his elbow at this point but he was busy trying to protect his own identity and grunting as he pulled out the slide (our bed-in-a-drawer that slides out the back of the trailer). “Don’t you want to see my passport?”

“No, ma’am.”

“You trust me then?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I don’t sound American.”

“No, ma’am.”

Well!

Jimmy had pulled the rear slide out and walked around to the door. The Border Patrolmen hustled after him and stood outside the door. They obviously didn’t trust him.

Map: U.S.- Mexico Border SOURCE: THEI Archives (Public Domain)

I kept Menendez and Martinez company while we waited for Jimmy who was crashing around in the trailer.

I was feeling distinctly left out of the process now, so called in to Jimmy “Can you bring my passport as well?” They could look at it whether they wanted to or not.

Once the green card was scrutinized and the American passport was ignored smiles broke out and we established that there would be more border Patrol checks starting with El Paso, then New Mexico and Arizona and on into California.

The passports now reside in the glove compartment much to Jimmy’s annoyance instead of well hidden and safe in the trailer. Don’t tell anyone you know where they are.

“You should have just told them we were both American citizens. They would have let us straight through.” But do you think he would do that? Of course not but then he would be the one to get into trouble wouldn’t he?

I never want to fly again. I mean it this time.

Sydney Airport
Sydney Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A jolt of anxiety was what we got when we tried to check in online for our 15 hour flight from Sydney to San Francisco followed by a connecting flight to Phoenix. Our flight to San Francisco had been cancelled. After much angst and many now-what-are-we-going-to-do’s the airline sent an email to say we were rebooked on a flight to LA and onwards. We didn’t care for the seats we’d been allocated so tried to change them. That’s when the trouble started.

Darlene greeted us with a wan smile when we arrived the next day at the check-in desk before she began processing our reservations and passports.

“I guess the flight is full,” Jimmy said conversationally.

“It’s overbooked,” she said bluntly.

Out the window went our plans of asking her to reassign us some better seats.

“Have you checked in online?” she asked.

“We’ve no idea.”

She looked up from her busyness.

“We tried to change our seats before checking in and couldn’t so checked in then phoned the airline at the airport. She unchecked us but couldn’t change our seats either. We checked in again but had so many conflicting emails, we don’t know what we’ve done.” Darlene frowned and tapped her computer keys.

My suitcase had disappeared and passport and boarding card had been returned to me. Darlene studied Jimmy’s green card and continued to frown and tap.

“I’m just phoning the service desk. I’m sorry to keep you,” she said.

Jimmy looked worried. “I’m not on the flight,” he muttered. I began wondering where I’d packed my phone so we could call his daughter to come back to the airport and pick him up. We’d already been told by someone in the queue that the last seat on the flight had gone and no more seats were available until two days hence. How big is LAX? Would I find my connecting flight? And where was that taxi rank in Phoenix? Keys! Must get J’s keys. I left mine in the apartment. I was going to have to switch out of blond mode to get myself home.

The theme restaurant and control tower at Los ...
The theme restaurant and control tower at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But what I said out loud was, “She’s looking at your passport and checking your green card. We know there’s no problem with it. I’m sure everything will be fine.”

After another 10 minutes of deliberate non eye contact from Darlene, she finally shared, “You have a seat on the flight,” she said looking at me. “I don’t have a seat booked for you,” she said to Jimmy.

Darlene put her head down again and kept tapping. Jimmy started sweating. Other passengers checked in and came and went, came and went. We stood our ground. No one said a word. Another 5 minutes went by.

“37 E and F. Are they the seats you were booked on?”

“Yes.”

L1140523.JPG
L1140523.JPG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You’re both on the flight.”

“Don’t do that to me!” Jimmy cried.

Darlene’s facial muscles relaxed into a smile. “Can I offer you a piece of advice? Don’t phone the help desk. They’re helpless. They mess up people’s reservations and when the flight is full we can’t fix it.”

English: Qantas A380 preparing to depart LAX o...
English: Qantas A380 preparing to depart LAX on it’s first flight on the new LAX-SYD route October 24, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good to know.

We’ll fly with Qantas next time.

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve just contradicted the title. I have to fly. I don’t have to love it. Do you love air travel?

Welcome to Civilization

Jimmy survived The Green Card Interrogation– no questions asked – at Seattle Airport having been “welcomed” to the United States by Gandalf.  A harrowing drive in a borrowed truck on Interstate 5 – the heavily trafficked north/south corridor of the west coast – in the dark and in pouring rain was Jimmy’s next ordeal. As we’d already been awake for 24 hours, I was feeling giddy. Jimmy, more used to driving an automatic on the left and now required to drive the unfamiliar pickup with manual gearbox on the right, was feeling completely bamboozled. For good measure he added, “My night vision isn’t so good anymore.”


“Oh, that’s reassuring!” A shot of adrenalin jolted me to full alertness on Jimmy’s behalf. Peering as intently as him into a bleak night punctuated with dazzling headlights and blinking brake lights, all reflected in crazy patterns on the slick road surface, I was pumping the floorboards on the passenger side all the way down the Interstate.

When at last we pulled under the apartment parking canopy with a cessation of the thrumming rain on the truck roof, it was with great relief and a measure of amazement that this part of our journey was at an end. We disgorged our suitcases into an apartment we had arranged on a previous visit to Olympia and fell into bed.

The next day, our small two-bed American apartment seemed positively palatial after months of confinement in a trailer. It was fully furnished and equipped – a little treat for our first month until we got our bearings and our belongings in our new country – and we wandered from room to room like novice millionaires inspecting our first mansion.

Deprivation had taught us to appreciate the everyday things we had previously taken for granted so we poked around and played with our new toys – the washer, dryer, microwave, garbage disposal, coffee maker, large screen TV and VCR/DVD and radio/alarm clock (which needed resetting as some bright spark had left it set and it went off at 6 a.m. Cheers, matey).

The monster fridge/freezer (how could we possibly fill it?) was five times the cubic capacity we were used to on our European caravan. The four-ring stove with massive oven, a land line with voicemail, the dishwasher –  it was all exhilarating.

It might be hard for a  normal person (that ship has sailed for me) to imagine how a washer and dryer could provoke such excitement but my undies would no longer share the laundry facilities with dog blankets, greasy overalls and mixed loads of indistinguishable lumps of gray. Each of the ordinary items in the apartment was coveted. The queen sized beds would be blissfully comfortable after our spell on thin hard trailer bunks if only our inner time clocks weren’t eight hours out of sync and we could manage to sleep through the night.

The central heating had a thermostat in every room. For two people with their internal thermostats set at always hot and always cold, to live in a trailer which was essentially one large room had been a constant source of querulous rants. “Turn that heat down!” “I’m freezing!” “Open the door!” “I’ve just warmed up!” “I need some fresh air!” “Well go out and get it!” Jimmy would sit in shorts and a tee-shirt while I shivered under a fleece blanket. The thought of being able to close a door between us and whack the heat up filled me with a tingle of anticipation. Fresh air is meant for outdoors. If himself wants to be an American, he needs to learn that.

These were the first of many adjustments we would make to life in America.