Instant ditz, just add stress

It’s February 1st. My current “permanent” resident card expires on the 8th. I filed the paperwork in late November—you’re not allowed to file until 90 days before the card expires.

Unfortunately, the INS service center in Vermont is currently taking 4-5 months to send out receipts (according to the national service center), followed by another 9-10 months to process the paperwork. Since I rather need to be able to keep working, I asked the national service center person for suggestions, and was told to go visit the local INS office and ask for a temporary visa and work permit extension.

So this morning I set off to the JFK Federal Building in the red tape district. (So called because it used to be the red light district, before they kicked out the whores and moved in the politicians. Ah well, there goes the neighborhood…)

I got through security, waited in a line for about 15 minutes, and got a ticket saying I was number C443. Expected wait time was 51 minutes, it said. The woman on the ticket desk told me I’d need various bits of paperwork, and of course one of them was one I didn’t have with me.

Government Center to Davis and back. 51 minutes. The music from “Run Lola Run” started playing in my head.

I needn’t have worried. When I got back and through security again, about an hour later, the sign said “Now serving C434″. I sat and read Scientific American.

When it was my turn, things went relatively smoothly. I was amused by the fact that the passwords for all the computer systems were on a piece of paper in plain view. The guy behind the desk wasn’t sure what to do, and checked with the Chief Data Librarian (or something like that). She seemed pleased that I was doing everything by the book, and actually smiled. A few minutes later I had a couple of stamps in my passport, and I was legal for another year.

I got out of the building and noticed my hands were shaking. I know they’re just a bunch of bureaucrats, but the INS always scares the crap out of me. I called sara, and suddenly realized I’d left my umbrella in the building.

Back through the security scan I went. I dashed back to the waiting room and retrieved my umbrella, and started mentally checking I hadn’t forgotten anything else. Wallet—check. Palm—check. Keys—uh…

I ran back to the security checkpoint, and told the guard I had left my keys there. Since this was my fourth visit, chances are he was starting to recognize me. I got the keys back, and did another inventory. All articles present and correct, I left the building for the last time.

After that, not much. I had lunch with sara then returned home to finish some work.