Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Immigrant's Tale

Every morning my boss picks Sarah and me up at the Home Depot which is only a short walk, a pedestrian bridge, and a hop, skip and jump away from our home. The Home Depot reminds me of a friend of mine, Ems in Austin who works for immigrants’ rights. Just so you know the Home Depot in Austin is where day laborers hang out and wait to find work, thus it’s not uncommon for Ems to visit and talk to the immigrants there, find out what’s going on. Immigrants’ rights are no laughing matter, and I admire her diligent work organizing Latino migrant worker vigils, fundraising, and more. However, naturally my whacky sense of humor likes to jokingly tell our boss that we’re like his little day laborers who he picks up at the Home Depot every day.

Despite fact checking and even calling the embassy before arriving to St. Lucia – Sarah and I recently found out we’re only allowed in St. Lucia for 6 weeks. As of Sunday, technically we were illegal aliens. Because we don’t want to be illegally doing public service here and we are working on a fantastic project, Alleyn, Sarah and I decided to extend our stay officially at the immigration office. No big deal. We called ahead of time and were told “someone responsible for us” would have to write a letter to the government that we were in their care. Alleyne wrote a beautifully worded letter and we merrily went on our way.

We arrived at the immigration office proud to show off our letter that Alleyne declared in writing that we were his guests and working here on a school project. How could we go wrong? Well apparently you can go wrong if you don’t also arrive with a print out of your departure flight, a receipt of payment of rent where you’re staying, and a passport photo of you. More work to do? Ok… I thought. This takes a few extra steps, but still no big deal. So we walked over to the mall and wandered into the photo shop between the shoe shop and the bridal shop situated on the second floor of the Blue Corral building. We asked for passport photos.

The two guys working there managed to tear themselves away from Facebook for a minute (kids these days!) and attend to our photo shoot. I was not exactly prepared for such a photoshoot and by this point didn’t care what I looked like, as I really needed this photo to stay in the country (ironic since I travel almost everywhere with my Canon camera and never like taking photos of myself). I sit down on a stool and smile for my photo.

“You can’t smile for your photo.”

“But… but… I can’t not smile.”

“NO teeth!”


If that weren’t enough, Sarah’s turn for her headshot came up. The guy looked at her and said, you can’t take a photo not covered up. I’m telling you though she was wearing the most modest tank top ever. It was basically a blue shirt with no sleeves. Really! The photo guy at this point looks at me and says, “Give her your shirt.” Wait a minute. What?!? I said, “I don’t have a shirt underneath this.” He pointed me to a door and said I could take my shirt off in small room.

If we’re going to stay in the country I thought… then I guess I could make this happen. So I went into the small room which apparently was a broom closet, and next to a bucket with a mop I took my button up shirt off and threw it to Sarah all the while hiding behind the door wearing underwear I wasn’t expecting to see the light of day.

Sarah didn’t quite know how to incorporate this into her ensemble. To be fair it didn’t go with her outfit and the shirt just wasn’t going to work out. At this precise moment in time Alleyne enters the photo place sees Sarah holding my shirt I had worn to work earlier that morning and me hiding behind a door.

Sarah says, “Alleyne, I need your shirt!”

I yell, “Alleyne, they made me take my shirt off!!!”

Sarah catches him up and luckily he did have an undershirt on, so we did a clothes switcheroo where I got my shirt back, Sarah got Alleyne’s shirt, and Alleyne is there in his undershirt. The photo was taken. Success!!!

And on top of that we’ll receive our extension!!! All in a day’s work guys. ::dust off hands::

So as you can see from my awful new passport photo -- worst photo ever. Now that I’ve posted it on the interwebs my hopes and dreams for running for president have come to an end. If I ever become a famous actress, leader or role-model I’ll cringe at the day this photo will pop up forever freezing this day where I was shirtless in a broom closet hoping to have my stay extended. On the other hand, this might just be the best souvenir ever. Ever!

So the moral of the story is… never joke you’re a migrant worker because you never know when that might actually become true. Also, always find a boss who will take the shirt off his back for you. That’s teamwork!

In the words of Genesis "It's no fun being an illegal alien."


Cory Biggs said...

I'll be honest. I couldn't pay attention to anything in this post beyond the first sentence once I realized you did not employ the "Oxford comma," as in the way you said "a hop, skip and jump away" as opposed to "a hop, skip, and jump away."

Yeah, I'm a dork.

Alex said...

Cory, you just scored major points for referencing the Oxford Comma (people don't use commas, what's up with that?!). Colbert even referenced the Oxford Comma on a show this week (he's mad that people type "red, white and blue" and not the correct, "red, white, and blue". Score you CBiggs...I hope you get a Jeopardy question on the Ox-Comm. Nice.

Stay legal, Island Servants! -AT

Debbie said...

Whatever. I was laughing out loud at your post because I could see myself doing that and then I was remembering my first post about Betty and the airport and then I thought I should tell you that she is at the vet right now because my brother had to take care of her when my parents went to Pittsburg, and by the way they golfed their way there so they could put more smiley faces on their map, whatever that means, and since she was locked up she clawed a hole in the carpet in my room so my parents (mom) took her to the vet to get declawed and she won't be back until tomorrow because my brother will be taking care of her again when my parents are in Singapore and here.

Take that grammar. ;-)

Justin Dove said...

So, when I got my passport photo taken the other day, I asked the official U.S. passport adviser person about the "no teeth" thing. Short answer: those guys are full of crap. It's perfectly acceptable for you to show teeth in your passport photo. However, the teeth oversight was clearly not the most pressing issue in the story.

Cheasty said...

i love you, judy!!

Captain Judy said...

Cheasy, I love you too!

Justin, woohoo on getting your passport taken care of. My real passport has a very smiling picture of me. So take that immigration!

Debbie -- best run on sentence ever. ; )

Alex and Cory, apparently you are not familiar w/ Vampire Weekend's song... "who gives a $%&
* about an oxford comma". I suggest you become familiar with it.

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