Yesterday I lamented about the refusal of the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington, DC to take my visa application package when I showed up 20 minutes after scheduled closing. How about 30 second before scheduled closing?
“The Amazing Race: Matthew Edition” took off this morning from Georgetown Law at 11:42a after a rousing discussion with former Solicitor-General Gregory Garre. The meeting was supposed to conclude at 11:30a, but went a little over—as I raced down New Jersey Avenue and made a beeline for Union Station, I flagged down a taxi. Under a District of Columbia mayoral directive, cab drivers are now required to accept credit cards. In practice, though, most have ignored the rule and continue to insist on cash, as this one did. I had cash, but only Euros and Hong Kong Dollars..
So on to Union Station to the Red Line Metro. The escalator, of course, was broken, and upon reaching the station entrance I saw that the next Shady Grove train would not arrive for another six minutes, so it was back outside to hunt down a cab. Cabs were lined up outside Union Station, but one after the other said no when I asked about credit cards. Finally, five cars back, I found a driver who accepted credit cards. I dislike most cab drivers, but this Nigerian-born man named Mike was great--I have his number if you are looking for an honesty cabby in DC and will use him in the future.
The time was now 11:51a. He pulled out of Union Station as quick as he could (the station is under construction) when I told him I had to be at 16th and O St by noon, telling me not two worry while berating his colleagues who refused to abide by the credit card rule. But as we wheeled down K Street, we hit every red light. Literally every signal. That didn’t stop the driver from holding down his horn for most of the journey and weaving between the special loading/parking lane and the through-traffic lane.
I think the driver was enjoying himself, and at 15th he took a sharp right turn and made a beeline up the street before taking a sharp left followed by another sharp right onto 16th. By now it was 11:59a and things did not look good. We hit one more red light at Scott Circle before pulling up to the embassy, just as the church bells across the street were striking noon.
I grabbed my belongings and made a beeline for embassy visa office. Like last time, the gate was open and door unlocked. Inside—and I swear this happened—as I ran inside the same man from Friday looked at me, then lowered the “gate” (like a store closing at night) between the visa lobby to the small hallway just inside the entrance.
His colleague was still behind the window and I asked him politely if I could hand in my completed visa packet. NO was the quick answer. By then, my friend from Friday had walked over and with a little grin on his face gave me the “no” sign with his hands and told me it was too late.
It was either now or never—I quickly responded back that it was not too late—I had arrived at noon and the Embassy is open from 9:00-12:00 (meaning until the clock turns to 12:01p). That didn’t work convince them, so I ratcheted up the drama.
After groveling for mercy, in rapid-fire succession I pulled out the contents of my application envelope and said, “I just want to turn this in! Everything is here! Stamped envelope with return address label, completed application, photo, copy of itinerary, money order.” I dramatically raised and lowered each item as I named it and told them I was leaving town that evening and again asked them to please just take it.
The new guy just shook his head, but my “friend” from Friday said a few words to him Kazakh, they looked at each other, then simply said, “Ok” and motioned for me to hand out over the items.
Whew! Now for all I know they will shred the passport, for I did not receive any receipt, but figured if I asked for one they would have handed back the package and told me to come back on Thursday with everything. Plus, had I just mailed in my whole application (which certainly would have been less stressful and expensive though not as adventurous as my cab ride), I also would not have had a receipt.
Oh what a day.