Welcome to Hell

This is hell, conveniently located on Bateman St, Soho. I am ticket no. 908

I’m going to Espain in April. So I need esvisa (groan)

My bank decided not to tell me they had stopped posting me my bank statements.

It took 2 months to find this out. Then another 2 weeks to actually get the statements.

Lloyds TSB, people.

Statistically the most complained about bank. So proud to be one of those millions and millions of people.

So I had to take the morning off work to get the visa. I felt guilty, even though it’s not my fault I have to jump through these hoops and frankly I haven’t even visited a gynaecologist or a doctor in years. (Well I’ve never visited a gynecologist. I’m scared and I don’t want some strange person up in my vajayjay)

Fucking guilt. How am I not a catholic? To placate myself more than anything else I tell my boss it wont take long.

Fortunately this visa place is in Soho. Unfortunately my work is across town.

Some improvements to the visa system have at long last been made. You now can book an appointment online. This is free. In the past you had to call a premium number, at a pound a minute. That’s worse than comic relief.

The online booking system said choose a time slot.

Then it only gave me one option.

This is bureaucracy at its best.

I waited for 30 mins at the Visa place to get my number called – this is actually efficient. I once waited 7 hours in Croydon to get my student visa renewed.

I got to counter 12. The guy doesn’t bother to look up at me, he just takes my papers and goes through them.

“How old is this photo?”

It’s quite a few years old. So naturally, I lied immediately.

“Uhm…I don’t know really…maybe a year?”

The moment the lie left my lips I regretted it.

I realised I’d used that photo for more than one visa, more than a few years ago.

He knew it too.

“Don’t lie to me. I’m serious.”

He meant business this guy. So I said look I don’t know. I guess its old.

“This photo is invalid.”

Panic.

“Uhm.. Ok can I take one now and give it to you?”

“Yes. Do you have your travel insurance coverage plan? This is not enough. I need the terms and conditions.”

“Uhm I have this piece of paper with me that’s all. I left the terms and conditions at home. Do I just go to this booth to get you the photo? Shall I do it now?”

“That’s not important. We are not talking about the photos. We’re talking about your travel insurance – I need the coverage plan or I cannot process your visa”

Oh fuck.

I left that at home. I seriously don’t want to have to trek all the way back home.

“Ok so what can I do? Is there a computer I can just buy insurance from here?”

“No. You can try a post office.”

Fuck. Ok I guess I’ll have to go home. Arrrggghhhhh!!!!

“I can go home I guess and get this. I live in Angel. It should take 15 mins to get there.”

“15 mins?”

He’s skeptical. Clearly he doesn’t trust a liar.

I was exaggerating. It takes at least 25-30 mins on the tube. But whatever.

“Ok fine”

He raises one eye brow.

“I’ll give you 2.5 hours to get there and back. I’m putting a time on this paper to let you back in and if you are not back before 2:30 your visa will be denied. And since you said it only takes 15 minutes you should be able to manage that.”

“Do I need to que up again or can I come straight back to you. What is it that you need me to bring?”

“You will get it wrong. Just bring all the papers.”

I laugh in his face at this direct insult.

“No seriously, you will get it wrong.”

I nod. He’s probably right. I’ll just bring everything.

So I double-check

“Today? Today? If I come back today? Today seriously today?”

This guy is thoroughly unimpressed with me

“I have already told you have 2 hours.”

“Ok.”

Pressure pressure. Mission Impossible.

So I first go to the photo booth and pay 4 pounds to take a photo that makes me look like I’ve just left a Charlie Sheen all-nighter.

Then I run home. Scarf flying, sweater getting sweaty. Everything seems to be taking longer. Why are tourists so annoying? Can’t they walk at a pace that is not a crawl??

I get home. It’s nearly 12. I’m exhausted. I should have been on my way to work now.

So I take a cab back to the visa place. This is an expensive visa.

I walk in to find that fucker has just gone for lunch.

I wait there for nearly an HOUR! I was flipping the fuck out. I need to be at work! An hour ago!

I read nearly a whole Barbara Cartland in the time it took to do all this commuting and waiting. (That’s how I register time now, I don’t look at clocks, no minutes and hours. It’s a 1.5 Barbara Cartland. 45 past Barbara Cartland. Page 98 Barbara Cartland ‘o’ clock.)

I keep looking at the door, hoping he’ll be out. When will he be out?? What is he eating?

He finally walks by. Looks me dead in the eye. Then turns around and goes back into his visa hiding hole.

I know what this is. He is showing me how much power he has. These visa people are power-hungry bastards.

The worst part is most of the people in that place were Indian. This guy looked and sounded proper desi. Like what the fuck? Help a sister out. Jana Gana Mana man.

Eventually he comes back to his desk. I’m looking at him, staring him down, with intent. I want my eyes to bore into his fucking soul.

He looks at me, mildly puzzled. I’ve seen you today?

“Yes! You gave me this note and told me to come back before this time!”

I remorsefully tell him I’ve been waiting for an hour. I look at him with blame. More intent.

Also I can’t actually believe he’s forgotten already. What happened to Mr. Mission Impossible? Be back in 2 hours and no more or death?

“Oh if I had known you were waiting I’d have seen you straight away. You should have told me.”

Told him? Told him what? I’m fucking waiting to see him. The whole room is waiting. This place is purgatory. Everyone is waiting. What tell him? I can hardly go to the back to the kitchen and insist he sees me. What drugs is this guy on?

“You looked right at me and walked away!! I thought you were ignoring me because you were in your lunch break!!”

“Oh no, I see so many people I didn’t even remember you.”

Sigh.

Maybe I should show more cleavage in future.

Good news is at least I got my visa.

Espain here I come.

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7 thoughts on “Welcome to Hell

  1. “You will get it wrong.”

    I’m going to tell you straight… your visa man sounds excellent. I didn’t think London-livers would be capable of such banter. I have a new respect for Londonites, visa employees and people who serve people in the order in which they were given a number (like butchers and pharmacists).

  2. hahah well i dont know about excellent but he got my visa so thats all that matters.

    But what do you mean “I didn’t think London-livers would be capable of such banter.” ?
    what do you think londoners banter like?

  3. I previously held the view that, aside from actual Cockneys (and market stall owners), there was zero banter in London. This terrible prejudice has been exorcised! But compared to Glasgow? hmmm…

  4. Yeah probably not so much banter as up there, but then I’m not good at casual banter with strangers. This guy above wasn’t bantering. He said everything with a dead straight face.

  5. He was definitely laughing under that steely facade. I am sure of it. He’s a big fan of The Office. He has a slow cooker in the house. He cycles to work on a Brompton. He is a conspiracy theorist.

Deranged comments preferred

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