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High drama at the U.S.A embassy

Updated on February 7, 2016
Nadine May profile image

Nadine was born in Holland and emigrated to South Africa in 1971. She has always been an entrepreneur and is a self taught artist .

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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.

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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.

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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.

Just Kidding
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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.

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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.

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Brendan-John is a good friend of ours and we are both members and supporters of this movement.

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.

Nadine

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    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 16 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Flourish I'm glad you could relate to my story about the paranoia inside some government buildings.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 16 months ago from USA

      This sounds like my visit to the courthouse last week with my sister who simply wanted to file for divorce. It was a comedy of errors and paranoia.

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 17 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Shyron yes I understand now that you need to show your hip replacement ( card) when going through the airport check in terminal, which I believe has steel elements in it.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 17 months ago from Texas

      Hello Nadine, I am late answering you question, but I think I would need my card to get on a plane. My hubby set off the alarm also, from his medication which was sealed in foil and it was to soon to take before we left the house.

      I hope everything worked out for you.

      Blessings and hugs my dear friend

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 18 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks Larry for reading this post.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 18 months ago from Oklahoma

      Very insightful.

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for reading my post Sandy. The sad part of all this is that when they approved of our ITIN form at Zazzle, they paid me out but withheld 30% tax! I do NOT understand why I should pay USA tax? its interesting to experience the corruptible system some huge cooperation's seem to be supporting. Other USA businesses we are both designing for have never charged me any tax?

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 19 months ago from Frozen Tundra

      What an experience you had to go through. Glad that Zazzle will allow Robin's ITIN number after the hassle you went through.

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for reading our experience Shauna. So far I have to admit that my graphic design venture is not yet lucrative at all, but I have not given up on it, and most importantly, I love doing it! Telling stories through graphics posted on products.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 19 months ago from Central Florida

      What an ordeal! My goodness. I sure hope your new business venture is more lucrative for you and Robin.

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Hi Martie thanks for reading my post and the compliment . I have used Robin's ITIN number and info instead and this morning I got the OK from Zazzle. Payment will go to his Paypal. So it was all for nothing.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 19 months ago from South Africa

      Oh my! What a damn rip-off! Something has to be done about that. Those who implemented the 'rules' have no idea about reality in SA.

      Well, we can't blame the Americans for being so paranoid. So sorry you and Robin had to endure all of that crap, Nadine.

      Your designs are beautiful!

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for reading my article Marisa. We both stayed very calm but were clearly not pleased when they wanted to charge me R800 for a signature.

    • profile image

      Marisa 19 months ago

      OY!!

      I may not have been as polite as you.....I would have done something more provocative......like slowing down to take pics but moving off just as they reached my vehicle then stick my tongue out....Even though South Africa has a corrupt ruling party the Souh Africans are still humanity bound.....When leaving for Switzerland we had to show our ID books.....I left mine at home....I was let through with a stern shrug....

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks Genna for your reply to this post. What I learned that day was to not diligently just follow rules when they make no sense, Or they feel wrong. Man-made rules, no-matter who makes them, if they do not serve every human being, then they must be questioned.

    • Nadine May profile image
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      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Ha ha Shyron yes that must have been an experience. Were you allowed to get on the plane without the card?

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 19 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What a tale, Nadine! "I was still having fun and it reminded me of movies where people visit someone in a prison." Your description of your surroundings are spot-on, because that is exactly what the reader visualizes. The fee demanded was outrageous. You exhibited much patience and grace, however, in a situation that would probably have had me barking in protest. Thank you for sharing.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 19 months ago from Texas

      Wow! Nadine, I know how you feel, when I went to our court house and walked in my hip replacement set off the alarm. I forgot that I needed to show the card showing that I have an artificial hip. That was an experience, but nothing like yours.

      I hope you can get the signature somewhere else, and I hope your business picks up.

      Blessings to you and your hubby.

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your comment Jodah. It does amaze us that there are people who feel that these security measures are valid. Those are the people who own guns and heavy alarm systems around their home, but naturally enough they then also attract the very thing they fear!

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks Ruby for your nice comment. We will always get on top of situations because we keep inventing new possibilities. Cheers

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for reading my post right to the end. Yes do learn more about the Republic of Good Hope. The video I included tells a lot.

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Ha ha better not. I might get into trouble. Today we never know who wants to abuse their controlling need for power

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Its was all like a joke to us until we were told to pay $50.- for just a signature. In our currency that meant R800.- which buys us a weeks groceries. Totally out of balance.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 19 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This was terrible Nadine. I hate to think what would have happened if my wife and I had to go through that. I hate just going through security gates at the airport because for some reason I always get "randomly" chosen for a separate body scan, even if I'm not travelling.

      This security seemed totally over the top just to get a signature at an Embassy. Thank you for sharing.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 19 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I am sorry you and your husband had to endure that. I guess the terrorist situation had something to do with the security, but the money charge was a greedy action. I do hope business picks up for you. Cheers.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 19 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing this interesting tale, Nadine. What a strange and frustrating procedure for getting a signature! I was interested to read about the Republic of Good Hope, too. This sounds like it's definitely worth investigating further.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 19 months ago from Norfolk

      Actually, it did cross my mnd that you should post this on the American Embassy facebook page, in America for a response.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I avoid government institutions like the plague. It's amazing you are still sane and able to speak rationally after that experience.

    • Nadine May profile image
      Author

      Nadine May 19 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Sally thank you so much for reading my first post of this year and for sharing. I'm now glad that I expressed my concern about the created fear and distrust through these over the top security measures.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 19 months ago from Norfolk

      It is with both a mixture of sadness and disappointment that I read this having left South Africa about 18 years ago. I hope that by tweeting this and by putting your article on facebook that it will aid your coffers rather than the greedy people who make money out of others who are unable to change the situation.