Sometimes, days are just plain sailing. Up early(ish), breakfasted, dressed, and out and on with the rest of the day, and in what seems like a flash the day is coming to an end once again.
Most days, it could be said, are generally like that.
Some days, however, are so far removed from the truth, they are, well, unbelievable.
The other morning, I’d set off for a little drive between 8.30 and 9.00am. Within half an hour or so, I’d entered into Somerset, a county that is actually miles and hours away from Cheshire, where my journey started. And, in a matter of mere moments later, I had entered the United States of America.
Without a passport to boot – and as a guest of the country!
A man in a green suit was waving for me to get out of my car and walk over to him, which I did.
“Good morning, Tom!” he smiled, temporarily making me forget about all of the other people who were milling around with arms and ferocious dogs. A clanking noise caused me to look behind me, and the gate at the border between the US and the UK had been closed again. I could see the back of Hal standing in the centre of the road (Hal was the officer who had opened the gate for me seconds earlier).
I realised that I hadn’t replied to the man in the green suit, so I did so apologetically, also letting him know that I was a little disorientated.
“I’ll fetch you a pitcher of water!” he said, helpfully, and spoke into his radio. Shortly afterwards, a lady dressed in a military uniform brought me the jug of water, which had ice and lemon, and a glass. It was very refreshing, so I helped myself to another glass.
The man in the green suit handed me a clipboard with a piece of paper attached to it, and a pen. I had to complete the form, with basic details about who I was, and he then signed the form and stamped it. It was really strange that they knew me, and I had no form of identification on me to prove who I was.
Once the form was put away, the lady who had brought the water returned, took the clipboard, and asked me to drive over to a large white building that could be seen at the end of the road. I would be able to collect my temporary passport from there. She also said that she would follow me down, and escort me to the correct office in the building.
The man in the green suit had returned to stand by the gate behind me, but waved once again at me as I got into my car.
I was completely baffled as to what was happening. Some days are like that though, when it seems that everything is going on around you, yet you’re just in the middle watching. This morning, though, I was doing slightly more than watching, as I seemed to be the centre of whatever was going on around me.
I drove to the building, and found a parking space right outside the door, conveniently. The lady in the uniform drove her jeep into a space further up the road, and smiled at me as she walked to my car.
“I’m Lydia,” she said. “I’m here to help you with anything. First things first, though, you must get your passport, so follow me into the lobby and we’ll get that fixed.”
Inside the building was very cool, with air conditioning that was as comfortable as it was chilly. It was, I’ll admit, very pleasant – not that it was that warm outside. Lydia walked into a side room, and a couple of seconds later emerged again carrying a small blue passport. She handed it to me, and I had to look at the photo straight away. It was hideous. Goodness knows where they got that one from… it must have been taken by one of the CCTV cameras back at the gate. My hair was shocking on it.
“It’s not that bad!” Lydia laughed, quite boisterously considering we were in a quiet lobby. Her laughter echoed around us. Her radio came to life after the echo had stopped reverberating, and I instantly recognised the voice that came across it.
“Come up to our floor as soon as you get here, Lydia…” Walpole E. Epstein’s strong accent was now echoing around the lobby. I looked around, and on the far wall noticed an elevator door, with a sign above it. A sign that had the initials A.I.F.M.S, clearly advertising where the door leads to…