Lost Among Europeans

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You're a guest in our country

After the ferry back to mainland from San Juan Island, there was an inspection, with ID check. The officer asked for my ID, and I handed her my Washington State Driver’s license. I didn’t have my passport. Not good. I got reprimanded. I wanted to explain that one thing I fear more than being reprimanded is to misplace my visa (and the passport in which it’s pasted) so that I usually take it with me only when I have to fly or cross borders. I wanted to say that in seven years living in the US, ID had never been a problem. But one thing I’ve learned from my few brushes with the law here, is that “but” is not a word they want to hear from you. They just want to make sure you’re aware of what you did wrong, and that you’re not trouble. Say “but”, and you can almost hear their thought: “Oh, a feisty one”.

There was a lot of work for the officers, a lot of people to check coming back from the long weekend. No time for debate. To drive the point that I should be glued to my visa, the officer said, twice: “You’re a guest in our country, and therefore you need to carry your visa at all times”. It took me a while to realize that I was upset. I have lived here since 2003, I have been working, paying rent and taxes, since 2005. At times I have worked to the detriment of my health. Guest my foot!

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