Want fries with that form?

Besides it being Water Turn On Day on South Park, yesterday brought an unexpectedly soon phone call from Immigration Canada. I called them back, via the number and instructions they’d left for Bob and was faced with possibly the most laid back human since 1969.  I had to perform a reference interview in order to find out what was wanted/needed/on offer and then provide my translation of his slightly fuddled phrases until I was fairly certain that the message was: “Your papers have come through jsut fine so come on down and pick ’em up. Oh, and don’t forget to bring a couple headshots that will make you look like a psycho killer.”

The one detail about which the fellow was firm and unwavering was that I could do this at any of three specific points in time, two of which also happen to be when I will not be in Nova Scotia.  The third option was this afternoon at 3, so I jumped on that one.

The immigration office here is suitably anonymous looking and located in a tourist bar area of town.  I got there promptly at 2:52–and discovered that the office itself is strangely unmanned.  There are invitations (mostly in English only, although there is a sign or two, about retaining your Canadian citizenship, that appear in French as well) suggesting you dial an 800 number in Saskatchewan in order to get info. Since that seemed so counterintuitive as to be laughable I took an alternate approach:  I waited a minute and a half.  And I was rewarded with the appearance of a guard who told me he would go find someone to help me.

He returned and asked my first name.  Told me to be seated.  Then returned again to ask my last name.  I sat.  I stared at the really interesting paint combination used on the walls–taupe and purple–and wondered if I ahd enough reading material with me.

But before I could dig any out, another door opened and Mr LaidBack himself popped out and invited me into a room that was stripped of any possible orientation: cell like in size and proportion, white walls, a high ceiling on which was mounted the blue bulb of a security camera, a completely empty desk and two stained interview chairs.  We sat.  He pulled out the fabled form–the one that cost me dozens of fingerprint efforts to say nothing of the energy spent trying to imagine how to respond to the request for engagement party pix that the original paperwork had required.  He stared at it.  I stared at him.

“I have two questions for you,” he finally intoned, still sounding sort of laid back.  “Have youe ver been convicted of a serious crime in the United States or in Canada?”

Well that one was easy.  I awaited the second, which turned out to threaten any power I ahd over giggling:

“Did you tell me the truth when you answered the first question?”

And that was the end of the interview.  He stamped my passport and wrote something inscrutable on the stamp itself. We each got to sign the form. He confiscated my headshots and let me know the “real” card will appear in the mail in one or two or three months.

Ten minutes after I’d walked into the building, I was on my way again. Like wow man.

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4 Responses to “Want fries with that form?”

  1. sd Says:

    But weren’t you tempted to break out in a chorus of “Alice’s Restaurant”?

  2. flotsam Says:

    That was it?!? Then again, I suppose we shouldn’t complain…..

  3. Al Says:

    You’d be surprised how often that second question trips people up. By comparison, Cam spent half his day at the DMV. They never sent him notice that he would need to renew his driver’s license, so he had to go in person. No appointments available, since the Governator has decided all state offices are to be closed 3 out of 4 fridays per month. He then stood in a line out the door to get an appointment time, then in line for the appointment, in line for the photo, then another line for the bathroom. We could learn a lot from you northerners.

  4. halifaxing Says:

    Sarah, in fact, I did go away humming Arlo Guthrie…

    Al, the DMV here is as bureaucratically tortured as there; the experience at Immigration seems to be just payback for all those sets of fingerprints I had to wait through. Poor Cam!

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