As you know, I don’t live in the U.S. any more. I’ve lived in paradise off and on since August of 2011. One of the requirements of living in this beautiful country is that I renew my Visa every two months until I can get a permanent one. This involves traveling through hideous amounts of traffic and congestion to the downtown area office and filling out some paperwork.
Once you get to the office, it’s usually not a big deal: you go in, fill out one form, pay the fee and get another stamp in your passport. But yesterday, there were many, many Expats and their wives there renewing their permanent alien Visas. My usual pattern of getting in and out within an hour was ruined by this January rush of extremely rude foreigners.
Then it happened. I had all my attention on the immigration official in front of me when I noticed the noise level got remarkably louder. I turned to see a mass of people lined up behind me waiting to talk to the lady I was talking to. There was literally not one open space in the room behind me, it was filled with a growing mass of humanity.
My poor sick mind did the only thing it does in a situation like this: it PANICKED! Instantly I started to sweat and my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. My vision got blurry and I felt as though I might faint at any moment. My hands were shaking uncontrollably and my voice failed. I felt like everyone was pressing in on me, breathing their breakfast smells up my nostrils. My fight or flight response kicked in and I just turned and ran out of the room into the cool uncluttered hallway.
There were one or two officials sharing the space with me. I could see them looking at me as if they saw a dead man standing before them. I must have looked awful. They stared at me a moment or two longer then went back to their conversation.
I picked my way slowly down the steps, gingerly placing my feet on each step in case my legs gave out. Once downstairs, I could see outside the building and that calmed me down a bit. I leaned against the wall and took deep breaths, one after the other, until I didn’t feel the need to faint anymore. The lady I had been talking to inside the office passed me and I could see she was carrying my paperwork and passport to get approved and stamped. Thankfully, my wife must have stepped in and paid the Visa fee when I left the room.
It took the better part of 15 minutes for me to calm down enough to go back upstairs and peek in the door to make sure my wife was okay sitting in the packed waiting room. She looked up and saw me there and I waved to tell her I was okay.
Another 15 minutes later the room had cleared a bit and I was able to go back in and sit next to my wife. I looked around to see if anyone noticed my quick departure, and it looked like everybody was engrossed in what they were doing and not talking about me.
I survived another panic attack with nothing to show for it but a sweaty shirt and shaking hands.
I finished my business and left the crowded office and walked outside into the cool but humid air. I took a deep breath and kissed my wife as we got in the car and left that horrible place for home.
We have reached the one week mark on the Daily Posts’ Zero-to-Hero Challenge! Today’s assignment was:
Create and upload a simple header, or test out a few different backgrounds.
I changed my theme on day 5 of the challenge and the new one does not allow you to change the header image, it just adds it below the title and headline. I tried to add several different pictures in that area, but nothing looked right so I gave up trying to add something in that spot. I also played around with background colors and images, but everything I did ruined the clean appearance of my chosen theme so I set everything back to default.
Well, at least I tried and I think that was the whole point of this exercise.
See you tomorrow!