Wednesday, August 8, 2012

US Visa Interview


June 2012

Things got really awkward at work when I got a visa appointment date. Doc was like, “Were you serious about this US thing?” Yup! “Miss Brook, what am I going to do? I didn’t hire someone else hoping you’d stay!”
the office, office desk

The visa day went something like this (if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will remember how my previous visa post went. Not too fun):
The appointment was at 09:00. I left the house at 07:00 walked the 30 minutes to the stop. I’d already asked around how to signal for taxis to Sandton, which is where the American Embassy is. I signalled for a taxi, 3 fingers up! It took me about ten minutes to get a taxi. I hopped on and greeted the driver. He asked me how I was doing .I told him I was so nervous, I was going to the embassy. He was like then why did you take a taxi to Tembisa? Uhm, what? How do I signal for Sandton taxis? He showed me exactly the same sign I made. How’s that different from what I did? Sisi, it’s going to be hard for you to find taxis to Sandton here. I was in Fourways, a suburb of the greater Sandton, you’d think it would be easy to catch a taxi to Sandton from there. Plus I was right outside Monte casino, a very busy spot. I asked the driver to let me get off. He told me to hang on, he would drop me off later. I assumed he would drop me off where I could catch the right taxi, nope, he wanted to chit chat. Yup! Believe me! No respect for someone else’s time at all! ‘I had to walk all the way back to square one. I still had a little more than an hour to get to the embassy.
I asked around if anybody knew where I could catch a taxi to Sandton, everybody just walked away. That’s where I used to wait for my taxi everyday when going to work, like P, they probably thought I was stuck up. Oh well, too bad, too sad. I asked around until one guy replied in a language I’ve never heard before. I’m sure it’s one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, but I mean, I don’t speak them all. I asked if he didn’t speak Zulu, Xhosa or English. His friend pitched in, he tried to explain what his friend was trying to say in exactly the same words, same language. I thanked them and went and asked an Indian couple. They told me they were also going to Sandton. The best way would be to take a taxi to Randburg get stuck in traffic to Randburg, then from there take a taxi to Sandton and get stuck in that traffic again. They told me it would take me an hour in total to get to the final destination by taxi then another ten minute’s walk to the embassy. I looked at the time and was like, you know what! I don’t know if I have enough time anymore. I waited ten minutes for a taxi, it had enough space for the couple. That sucked! I had to wait some more! Heaven knew how long I’d have to wait before I got a taxi. I called ZS to share the dilemma I was in. She suggested I take the other car and drive there, rather. I looked at the time and wondered if it would’ve been worth it to walk another thirty minutes back to the house to get the car. I did it! I ran back to the house, halfway, I saw the security guards that work at the boom gate, I asked them for a lift, they told me they didn’t have petrol (gas), another one asked if I forgot something behind, while the other was asking me if I wasn’t going to work that day. I just couldn’t be bothered with their small talk, Time was money. Time IS money!
I got home, P was mopping the floor, awkward moment, I had to walk on her wet floor, another reason for her to think I am mean to her, oh well, I just apologised, got the car keys, started the car, IT WOULDN’T START! A few minutes later, it did! It had to! I didn’t have another 30 minutes to go to the taxi. There was no petrol in the car! I had to start at the garage (gas station). I rushed there, waited my turn, got my petrol and then the car wouldn’t start. GREAT! I pumped the accelerator and pumped for what seemed like forever until it started. I almost knocked a car that was parked in front of the store in front of me. Ugh, Gosh! I only had 45 minutes to get to the embassy and I didn’t know how to get there.  ZS sent me directions via BBM Voice notes. I kept playing them and playing them until I got there. I had to park at Sandton city as they, for some weird reason, don’t have parking at the American Embassy. I took the first parking I got and was lucky that the first guy I asked for directions knew exactly where I was going and was good at giving directions. I arrived at the embassy at 08:56. Four Minutes early! I still had to get Visa photos, I asked the security where I could, he directed me really nicely, I ran back to Sandton City, got my pictures, met a nice lady that was also going to the embassy, she didn’t know where it was, I took her with me. We chatted and chatted while in line, she’s very nice, from Uganda .
The nerves were killing me inside! I felt like I was the only nervous one, everyone else was so laid back. I had to get my visa the first time, I was so ready to leave! We went in, had to switch off our mobile phones and I was like wow, this is really happening. I could be going to America very soon or not! I literally meditated on the positive! I wouldn’t even allow myself to think that there was a possibility I wouldn’t get the visa. Not an option!
I went to 3different desks and was assisted by a white lady, an African lady and by an Indian Gentleman. Talk about affirmative action. Very South African! The last person is the one that did the actual interview. It lasted no time at all, then he said, “Okay mam, your visa’s been approved” whut! Whut! Too happy! I just said thanks, and went to join my friend, whose visa had also approved and the lady that was behind us in line also had hers approved. Good times were had by all. WE got outside and screamed, and danced and hugged and rejoiced and and and.
My new friend treated me to a nice branch. 
I called ZS and told her the news, she came over to Sandton City as soon as she could and treated me to a nice lunch! Very nice lunch actually J

She was going out of town that evening. I hadn’t told any of my family about the visa and the US or anything, I didn’t want to jinx it! My sister called me up to ask if I wanted to spend the weekend over at hers, perfect timing because I wanted to see them as well. I hadn’t seen them since I moved to Fourways. ZS and I took some pics at the Nelson Mandela Square, fun! Fun! Fun! I had to break the news to Doc, that wasn’t fun. He called ZS and asked her what he’s supposed to do without me. He said he didn’t want anybody else but me. It was cute and sad at the same time. He cried L He did tell me that he and his friend were praying the whole morning that I wouldn’t get the visa. J
ZS didn’t have time to drop her car off, I found myself stuck in Sandton City with two cars. I took the Merc home first. Let me tell you! People treat you differently on the road when you drive a fancy car. I’ve driven the Merc a few times and I noticed that! The moment you turn your indicator (flicker) on, they start moving, making space for you. Nice but so unfair! I dropped that car home, got my overnight back and WALKED THE THIRTY MINUTES TO THE BUS STOP. Third time that day! I bought a Gautrain ticket, and took the Gaubus to Sandton. This is what I should have done in the morning when going to the Embassy! I almost missed the bus, while running towards it, my toes cramped, my leg locked up. I got such a fright! I was like my gosh I’m getting old, what’s happening to me L

I drove the other car to Melville, back to normal driving on the road, nobody cared if I wanted to change lanes, no more Mercedes Benz luxuries! I told my sister news! She knew though! Kinda! That’s the thing with my family, they’re an intuitive bunch. She told me she had a feeling I got a job overseas and wanted me to bring her up to speed. That’s one of the reasons she asked me to come over. Oh well, she was happy for me either way. I slept over and broke the news to my nephew and niece the following day. I also got to see my nephew’s new place. I picked ZS up from the airport Sunday evening and called it a day. I went to work on Monday to resign, super duper awkward! It sucked to be precise. I was there for half of the day. I needed to go to SARS. That was my only chance. I took a taxi to Johannesburg, walked all the way to the end of the world to SARS, I wasn’t aware they moved from Carton Centre. Anyway, I was assisted by a very kind gentleman. They had told me I owed them R5 000 ($600). I wasn’t chuffed about that, but I had to address it before I left.