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Joined: February 11, 2012, 5:52 am
Location: Lima, Peru

Post by ycaruthers8 » September 2, 2012, 3:37 pm

I arrived at work yesterday morning at seven, about a half hour early. I’ve found that that little extra boost means that by the time everyone has arrived, I’ve already had my morning coffee, pulled my case files, and am diligently working with some momentum.

I dropped a coin into the coffee machine, only to hear a loud CLUNK of the coin dropping into the return tray.

“What? My 50 centimos isn’t good enough for you?” I said loudly, enjoying another advantage of being in the office alone.

“Se Necessita Servicio,” it taunted me with its LED display.

Not willing to engage in further conversation lest I start swearing at it, I went back to my desk, a little grumpier for the wear. I jiggled my mouse and my computer sprang to life.

Or at least it pretended to.

I soon discovered that the software I normally used for casework locked the second I tried opening a case. Thinking it was perhaps a temporary glitch, I checked a few e-mails and tried to give it a moment. I discovered that one of the only messages I ever wrote that ended up being forwarded to Washington contained an embarrassing error – I had referred to a “Marine from the Special Forces Group,” but I must have been asleep when I wrote it, and my Army friends already know why. Special Forces Groups belong to the ARMY. I spent 20 years in the Army, and I have known this fact for at least 18 of them. The desk officer had kindly brought this to my attention, and ironically, he and I chewed some of the same dirt in Iraq in 2005. At least the error would have no consequences other than my own embarrassment. My decaffeinated morning was trending further downward.

To clarify, I work in immigration. The mission is to facilitate nice people who want to go to the U.S. and live, legally, working, paying taxes, and contributing to society. At the same time, I also want to keep out terrorists, criminals, drunks/druggies, and most importantly, deadbeats. In the course of a day, I meet a lot of really nice people who I am proud to help on the path to a better life. I meet a few of the other variety, and I am equally happy to keep them out. Being able to tell the difference is impossible without a computer.

A half hour passed, and still no systems. Some of my staff with more time on the job tell me that this hasn’t happened in several years. Eventually, we were forced to tell our applicants that they have to come back tomorrow. For those applicants who lived far away, we gave them the option of calling back in the afternoon to check.

In the midst of all this, a family is stranded at a port of entry, without some of the required paperwork. Some of my energy goes to trying to find out whether it was our mistake or theirs, but more of it went to providing copies of the documents they needed to enter. Detention should be reserved for dirtbags and smugglers, not families with valid visas.

In the midst of all this, I answer a couple of congressional inquiries, and try to make sense of the court records in another file, written all in Spanish, which since less than two years ago, I only knew “Hola” and “agua,” I think I’m doing pretty well.

I sent an e-mail to my wife, telling her I would take her out to lunch. Two minutes later, the systems came up, so I sent a second e-mail, cancelling our date.

By that time, there were certain things that couldn’t be done as it was late in the day, but I did interview a few applicants who had ridden buses up to eight hours to get here. I told three others that they weren’t eligible to immigrate for the reasons previously listed. I’d sent an e-mail to the Center for Disease Control, responding to an issue that we have been working for some time, politely informing them that things weren’t moving as fast as we had been hoping.

Five o’clock took forever to arrive, yet came and went much faster than it should have. I started the automated report process on my computer, and picked up a blue folder from my desk, an international adoption case.

A girl about the same age as my youngest had been left on the orphanage’s doorstep about eight years ago, filthy and malnourished. She had been there ever since. A missionary family who had visited the orphanage had decided to adopt. I carefully poured over forms, psychiatric exam reports, home studies, and police records. My job is to review the file and give the stamp of approval of the U.S. Government.

As I put my pen and name stamp to the approval letter, I thought of a Wayne Dyer quote, a favorite of my best friend:
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

I had just had the worst day at work that I have had in a year. I would probably go home to read a news report talking about how overpaid government workers are.

This little girl had waited her entire life to get parents, and I was signing my name to make that happen.

How did my day go?

It was glorious.

Yancy Caruthers
Facebook "The Pen and The Sword"

Beautiful Soul
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Post by mwzephyr » September 4, 2012, 12:15 pm

Good job! :D:

Beautiful Soul
Posts: 640
Joined: January 22, 2010, 4:41 pm
Location: Islandia, NY
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Post by Davidf » September 8, 2012, 4:37 pm

It is great that despite all that happened to you, you can still describe it as "glorious".
Have a blessed day!

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