Having been through the immigration process, I can understand the stress and strain that comes with all that it entails. Samantha has to now adjust her status, as she has become a married woman, and the filling out of forms is once again upon us. Although not difficult to complete, the 'exhibits' that need to be attached, can take some time to assemble.
Up until recently, she has been content to sit back and let events take their course, but with the up and coming wedding of Richard to Steph, she needs to obtain the coveted 'travel pass'.
The first form was sent without much of a performance. Obtaining birth certificates was the only thing that held things up for a while. However, with both hers and Edwards attached, and individual 'passport like' photograph, the papers were submitted. The next batch of 'evidence' was not so easily procured. Samantha had to go for the dreaded 'medical'.
I booked an appointment with the doctor with whom I had the greatest confidence. Unfortunately, not all general practitioners are authorized to complete the forms, and neither my doctor, nor Edwards, was on the list. We had been to a clinic previously, that had completed her initial paperwork, five years ago, but we always felt as if we needed inoculations before entering the surgery. However, the facility we chose was about five minutes from the office, and had completed my paperwork very efficiently. The examination, itself, is not particularly pleasant. Apart from having to take blood, to check for all sorts of diseases, specifically those which are now referred to as 'social' conditions, an additional examination, which requires the removal of lower garments, is performed. Samantha was, of course, not looking forward to the ordeal, but was very brave, and laid back and let the doctor 'do his stuff'.
Fortunately, all she needed was the test for tuberculosis. Most of the other requirements were fulfilled in 2007, and apparently good for ten years. We were given details of two clinics, which apparently gave, 'shots for tots' and 'bit shots'. I trusted that the latter was not referring to injections for the over egotistical, but any adult in need of protection, and returning from the surgery to the office, I called the numbers provided. Unsurprisingly enough, there was no answer. I called again, and after about twenty minutes was connected to an operator. After answering a battery of questions, I was informed that I had called the wrong number, and was provided with yet another alternative. An hour later, I was still 'on hold'. I had two phones connected, playing a variety of country music hits, in unison, and neither one managed to connect to a person. We had considered taking advantage of the Saturday morning 'walk in' appointment, but were not sure which clinic would be less busy, and did not want to risk waiting in line for several hours if we did not arrive early enough. I decided to call the first number again to ask their advice. The very cordial lady, on the other end of the phone, attempted to connect me to her counterpart, but she, too, was put on hold. As we seemed to be in an impossible situation, I asked her if it was advisable to come down to the clinic on Saturday, or if I should just make an appointment on Monday. 'What do you mean you don't do the TB tests?' was my immediate response to her statement. Having spent an hour listening to Trace Atkins and Faith Hill, telling me about their failed love life, I was not feeling particularly mellow, and attempted to quell my wrath. My new found friend, however, explained that the testing took place at the RBJ Medical Center on Webber Street. She may as well have told me that it was on Milky Way Avenue, on the planet Mars, as I was completely oblivious to the facility, as well as the road, but the Internet is a marvelous tool, and I was able to find my destination, on line, in seconds. It was across the interstate, less than five minutes away from the office. The time was 2.40pm. The clinic closed at 3pm. Appointments would have to be made in person, and were available on Friday, between 1pm and 3pm. Oh joy! Grabbing Dana's car keys, and shouting for Samantha to 'come on...NOW!', we ran from our building and, very carefully, sped off down to the highway. Not really paying much attention to the road map before we left, Samantha asked her not so helpful I-phone. Siri, as I believe she is known, is either a little slow, or has a very wicked sense of humour. Her directions took us too far along the road, and we had to make a u-turn, and drive very slowly past the many police vehicles which appeared to be lining the hard shoulder. Finally, pulling up outside the door, we exited the car, and sprinted to the reception area with two minutes to spare.
Asking for my options, when the receptionist asked, 'do you want to make an appointment', was probably not the wisest of answers, but fortunately, my accent is not always easily understood, and she looked blankly. as I rephrased, 'is there anywhere else that does the tests?' She made a quick phone call, walked away from her desk, and came back with a clipboard, and form. 'You can go in next', she said with a smile. Considering Samantha and I are both literate adults, having received a reasonably high IQ score, the inability to complete the form was pitiful. The final product resembled something you might see on the wall of a nursery school, or in a trash can! Fortunately, mistakes were not a problem, as long as the main information was reasonably legible. An older man of oriental descent, walked from the back, and asked Samantha, 'how old'. Being totally tongue tied, she could not answer, and I replied, '25'. His face dropped, he clicked his tongue, ushered her in, and shook his head at me, in disgust. My confusion at his contempt was short lived, as Samantha emerged with a small scratch on her arm, explaining that he had in fact asked, 'how many?'
Fortunately, the result of the TB test was negative, and after another round of blood tests, as the first could not be completed as they had not drawn enough (and I had confidence in this surgery!!!), we received a call to say the papers were ready. I stayed in the car as Samantha went into the reception area. Apparently, they were not expecting us so quickly, and she had to wait. Taking a seat, she sent me a message to explain why we would have to wait. I am not sure why everything seems funnier when you are trying not to laugh, but I messaged her back. 'Do they know you are there to pick up results of your STD tests?', I asked. When my daughter attempts not to laugh, her chin extends, and her face becomes elongated, as her mouth goes from side to side. Watching from the car, I continued with my attempts to make her feel uncomfortable, messaging each time someone came in, and then making faces through the windscreen. It was very amusing, at least for me. Boredom always brings out the worst in me!
With all the papers in hand, and the forms filled, there were just a couple of things she needed from Edward, and the documents would be ready for submission. Between us, we had been tested not only for life threatening germs, and cultures, but also anxiety levels. We were much less stressed by the weekend. With the usual chores out of the way, we went down to the pool to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. A few new neighbours came down, and introduced themselves, and all too soon, the sun was dropping behind the trees, and it was was time to leave. Samantha packed up her kindle, and looked helplessly at the scrunched up wet towel on the sun bed. Being mother, I swiped up the towel and started to fold it, without thinking, and remarked, 'you are twenty five years old, have been tested for syphilis, and you cannot fold a wet towel!' All eyes upon us, we bid a hasty retreat. We assume that the accent, once again, baffled our pool pals, as they did not retreat when we returned, and guessed it must have purely been the shrill tone of sarcasm that caused them to look up.
Another trip to the post office is now the order of the day, together with a visit to the bank to have a money order made out for too much money. With the two experiences being mutually exclusive, and nothing like we had been used to, living in the depths of the Hertfordshire countryside, back in England, I am sure there will be enough to cover....another story.