Try the Russian Embassy, Ma’am?

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Try the Russian Embassy
Tags: , ,

cec477bbc5396f6e3fa5a23aa73d50e22There are times when you simply cannot avoid overhearing other people’s embarrassing conversations.

No matter how much you desperately shuffle around in your handbag, pretend to frantically text or hum nonsensically to yourself while avoiding eye contact at all costs, the very air you are sharing seems fraught with humiliation.

Banks, post offices, hairdressers, supermarket check-out lines, public transport; we are assaulted daily by a constant barrage of misfortunes.  Most are instantly forgettable or serve as amusing anecdotes over the dinner table, but if you are lucky, you may find yourself rooted to the spot

Such a conversation was overheard this week.


Visa & Immigration Dept., U.S. Embassy, Brussels.


A large room with eight or nine individual, bullet-proof glass booths.  The interviewer communicates with the applicant via a microphone, thus causing the interviewees to bellow out their replies.  Excellent.


Frumpish, elderly lady (early 70’s or so); blue rinse needing a touch-up, Aldi eco grocery bag, undetermined European accent ( maybe Swiss).  Possibly like this, but minus the pearls.



Passably handsome, mid-thirties, American male; gelled hair, small shaving nick on chin, pen twiddler.  Obvious boredom with Civil Service job hugely alleviated by the encounter.


INT:  Good morning, Ma’am, (ruffles through sheaf of papers).  You are applying for an Immigrant Visa to move to the United States?

APP:  Yes sir, yes I am.

INT:  And you are retired; no longer working?

APP:  For five years now, yes.

INT:  Ma’am, (leans forward to glass, twiddling pen, staring intently). I see you have checked the ‘yes‘ box of the ‘Have you ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime‘ question.  Is this correct?

APP:  (Slight glance around, nervous shuffle).  Well, that would be correct, sir.

Everybody in room concentrating HARD on cracks in floor tiles.

INT:  How long ago was this?

APP:  Umm, about…oh, about seven years ago. *cough* (Nervous fiddling with hair).

INT:  And you were convicted for how long, Ma’am?

APP:   Five years.

INT:  Of which you served?

APP:  Two and a half. (Brightening), I was released on good behaviour, you know.

INT:  And what, exactly, was the nature of your crime?

APP:  Um…embezzlement, sir.

INT:  I see, (visibly excited but trying to remain stern).  How much did you embezzle, Ma’am?

APP:  Oh, let me see, um….about 91,000 Euro, I think…

INT:  *Pause*  (increasingly rapid pen twirling and seat shifting)

Even the flies are agog:


INT:  *Ahem*  Ma’am, the Government of the United States of America generally do not take kindly to convicted embezzlers looking to move there.  Do you have relatives in the country?

APP:  No.

INT:  Anyone who can vouch for you at all?

APP:  Em, no.

INT:  *Perplexed sigh*  Why do you want to move to the U.S., Ma’am?

APP:  Sir, I feel that Europe no longer has anything to offer me….

INT:  (Large stamp in hand) – APPLICATION DENIED.

Overcome with incredulity and mirth, my trusty eavesdropper made her way directly to the nearest Brasserie to knock back several kir vin blancs and reflect on the amount of ‘crazy’ in the world.

Me, I like degrees of crazy in all their variance.  We are, each of us, well equipped with it; only the way in which we choose to display our crazy differs.

And, between you and me, I think embezzling lady had balls.



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