Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I Love I-R-E-L-A-N-D!
Tickets in hand, I thought there was nothing left to worry about other than what to pack.
Perusal of the fine print brought me bolt upright (from a relaxed, no worries posture.) Who knew that our destination requires that one's passport be valid for six months after one's return? Realizing that one is short of that mark by two months, one began to feel faint.
Some deep breathing was deployed to restore one's equilibrium and attempt some logical thought.
What to do? Brainwave incoming ----Google, Google, Google!
Obtained phone number for Irish Consulate in Atlanta. Logical, right? Called said consulate. Listened dejectedly to recorded message directing me to call consulate in NY instead.
Had I really hoped, expected, a human being to pick up the phone? Actually, yes. I'm Irish.
An eternal optimist.
Called NY. No human beings available. Leave a message.
Left a message, being careful to b-r-e-a-t-h-e so as to sound cool, calm and collected, not frantic, which is how I felt. How many weeks would it be before a Leprecaun called me back? In my mind's eye I saw a long list of phone messages from Americans eager to travel to the Auld Sod and dig around for their roots. I figured my message was # 347 in the lineup.
Pulled my thinking cap down lower over my ears, the better to hear any Plan Bs my brain might suggest.
Silence for a while, then a humming sound as an alternate plan slowly took shape.
Back to the web site and e-mail the blighters.
I then busy myself deleting old e-mails and general in-box housekeeping, when, quick as a blink, there's a reply! Addressing me by my first name no less, and instructing me to send my address asap so they can send me the necessary application.
I'm tempted to send hugs and kisses.
Instead I reply with the requested information, adding that, being used to the bureaucracy and the slow movement of great bodies, I'm ecstatic at their speedy response.
I'm just pushing send when the phone rings. I glance at the caller I.D. All that registers is "Consulate..." My heart jumps into my mouth from surprise and delight as I pick up the phone.
Charles is his name. His accent solid Irish. He sounds a little bored, like it's been a long day and he's beyond ready to go home for his dinner. He tells me they will send the application and instructions as soon as I send them my address. I'm so full of plawmawss I think it cheers him up a bit. He laughs outright when I tell him he should be grateful I'm not there in person as I'd be hugging him.
"Don't worry," he assures me, "We'll get you a fast track renewal and you'll have it in plenty of time."
I am especially impressed, since, a few years ago, I tried to renew my green card on line and was scammed out of my fee by some fly-by-night organization, sounding very official but being, in fact, a bunch of thieves. It was a tortuous tangle and a thoroughly unpleasant experience.
Have I mentioned how much I love Ireland?