High drama at the U.S.A embassy
The American embassy in Cape Town
This is not a usual topic of mine, but the following incident did awaken in me a contempt towards government institutions in this physical reality of ours.
Three weeks ago we went to the USA embassy in our city, thinking that we would not need an appointment for just a small service of certifying a copy of my Dutch passport. My husband didn’t need an appointment for the same procedure some years ago. We were wrong. We were not allowed to park our car in the visitors parking lot (not being American Citizens) but were told to park at a nearby shopping center about 500 Meters away and walk from there, which we did.
When we arrived on foot we were told by several security people (at least five) that everybody was on lunch, so we waited outside. After a while two gentlemen, who clearly came back from lunch, asked us what we were waiting for. We were told that we needed to book an appointment on line. Without it nobody would see us.
Our appointment was scheduled for 10:15 on the 5th of February 2016. All this for someone to certify that I am who I claim I am and that I live in South Africa.
High security procedures
Fast forward to today and our luck was in. Several security personal discussed among themselves if they could let us park in the visitors parking bay, and it was eventually agreed that we could after we had showed them our appointment letter. Our car was inspected with a small mirror all around and we had to open our boot (trunk), all the doors and the hood so that could inspect (probably for bombs). We both took it all in as a joke.
At the entrance we were met by another security person who asked once again if we had an appointment. She directed us through a heavy door with bullet proof glass and once inside we arrived at what looked like airport security.
“I wish we were flying to Europe” I said after being told to put my bag and hubby’s moon bag on the conveyor belt. They demanded that we turn off our phones and held on to them as well as our car keys to be returned to us when we left the building.
“Do you need my shoes and belt as well” Robin asked with a smile, while my sunglasses and Robin’s glasses were inspected for any hidden cameras, and put in its separated plastic box. We were truly entertained by all this paranoia. As we stepped through the scanner archway, my bag showed a security breach. I had not declared my cannon camera! The two ladies were very friendly and probably glad to have something to do, since we never saw any other people.
We were given a key to a locker where we had to leave our bags including cell phones but could take our purse with money. I realized later why.
Back outside in to the hot sun
More security staff told us which building to go to and when we pushed through another heavy bullet proof glass door, it was as if we stepped into a refrigerator. The temperature must have been at least ten degrees colder.
This room reminded us of our local home affairs due to the row of chairs, except for the cold sterile look to it all. We saw a couple on the seats and one person in front of one of the three interview cell looking like cubicles. When it was our turn to get to cubicle 3 I already knew I had to use the hand phone to speak to the person behind the bullet proof glass. I was still having fun and it reminded me of movies where people visit someone in a prison.
I came prepared and pushed my passport, a photo copy and the W-7 form completed through the split like we see in banks. We were then told to sit down again.
Application for IRS individual taxpayer identification number
I began designing graphics for Print-on-demand products with Zazzle in October 2014, but it made sense to apply for a US tax number (ITIN) so that I would not be taxed twice (once in the US and again here in South Africa). The ITIN number would give me tax withholding status.
So far I have not yet reached my first payment threshold of $50. I’ve only earned $42.66 so far, (after 16 month) so having my own tax number would be a good thing.
A few minutes later we saw someone was waving to us from behind the bullet proof glass to go to the cashier’s cubical. I wondered why since all I needed was a signature from someone working for the U.S.A embassy.
The gentleman asked for $50. I was somewhat taken aback. Did this man really think I had dollars in my purse?
“All I have is R100.00 in my purse” I said out loud through the bullet proof glass without the hand phone. When he told me that I needed to pay him R800.00 before he would even put his signature on my form. In disgust I politely asked for the form back.
My Zazzle payments can be paid into Robin’s PayPal account instead. My earnings at Zazzle do NOT warrant me paying for the privilege of a signature.
Having a treat at the nearest coffee joint
Getting out of the embassy was easy but we were both still shocked at the whole unnecessary palaver we had to go through all for nothing, unless we pay an amount in Rands that would cover a week’s grocery bill!
As we sat down drinking a cappuccino I thought this whole affair could be my first Hub article for the year. I might as well earn something from this ridiculous episode, so I took some photos while driving past the building on the road back home. What was truly funny was the security guard that wanted to stop us when he saw me taking a photo from the car window.
He probably took a photo of our number plate, but that made us both laugh.
Robin and I are members of the Republic of Good Hope, and therefore we both have a totally legal RGH number plate on our car.
Republic of Good Hope
The Republic of Good Hope is a common law country, created through a declaration on the 24th of December 2010. It serves an alternative jurisdiction to people who wish to protect themselves from traditional countries who enslave their people to debt/usury based monetary policies.
Members are free to record their automobiles with the RGH number plate. We do have our South Africa license disk and driving licenses as well, but people who are living in South Africa are more inclined to be mavericks when it comes to man made laws that seem to benefit only a few at the top of the political arena.
We are both pensioners and our book publishing business has taking a hard knock in recent years (due to the world economy and the eBook trade). E books have hit local and overseas bookshops very hard and the result has been that many of bookstores have had to close their doors for good.
My aim has been to improve our financial state by becoming a freelance graphic designer in order to supplement our greatly diminishing income.
Our experiences about fear driven paranoia this morning and the greed to charge R800 for a service my husband received for FREE before made me wonder, do we already live in totalitarian world? For us this visit felt like a 'stage' set for High drama!
Thanks for reading my first 2016 article. My next entry will be on a more thought provoking topic.