Monday, November 12, 2007

San Francisco International Ariport

Dear insansapinas,

Travel tips-The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.

We landed at San Francisco International Airport at exactly 8:00 in March 8 that year. I left the Philippines 6:00 am same date. If I am going to write this in my diary, I have travelled around the globe just in two hours. Hindi naman ako si Darna. Amazing, these time zones.

Every time the aircraft stops, there is a commotion in the cabin. Eveyone wanted to be the first to leave.

Since SFO was my destination, I remain seated and let those other passengers who may be in a rush to catch their connecting flights in another gates get their stuff and make a line towards the exit. Besides, I was also excited. I am now in the United States. I pondered on what life awaits for me. That was the end of my flight but my journey in life continues. A little ray of sun sparkled on the blue-gray clouds..

The knight-in-the-shining-armor (not) guy had disembarked at LAX. I looked around. There was a guy coming towards my direction. I stepped on the seat, reached for my suitcase and as the man got nearer, I made a loud Hmmmmmpppp. " Let me help you." He came rushing to unburden me with the load.

Tip # 1

According to my friend. Timing is essential in getting the help needed during travels.
See to it that there is always a man around when trying to lift a heavy luggage. Make him feel you needed some extra hand with the proper facial expression and little sound of distress.
Ang mga suplada bawal dito. Yon yon eh. Don't forget to say tink yu with a smile.

So I said thank you to the man and smiled the sweetest I could muster. The man smiled back. The lady behind him frowned and showed her displeasure. Might be the missus. Oh well.

After putting on the leather jacket that I bought from Pakistan for 1,500 pesos (I did not know that it costs $ 300 in the US), I took my small mirror and checked if there was a need for me to dab my face with pressed powder. Checked my teeth too for some lipstick smears. I supposed there will be a brief interview in the immigration.

Tip # 2

During orientation, we were advised to wear something decent and appropriate for your profession. When I heard the word appropriate, I asked mentally what's appropriate for a dancer? Like a ballet dancer? Like a chef? But it is just the humorist in me asking. The lady doing the orientation asked me if i have a question. Can people read my mind? Or they are simply amused by my facial expression. I will try to avoid that brow-knitting and raising habits. Promise.

I shook my head to tell her, none. I liked to finish the orientation fast.

She continued with a story that affirms Melanie Marquez' witty saying, "Do not judge him (his brother Joey Marquez) by his cover. He is not a book.". mwehehe.

One Pinoy engineer ' holding a working visa was almost denied of entry because he did not look like an engineer. This time, I raised my hand and asked, so how does an engineer look like? Like me for instance, I am an accountant, do I have to appear grouchy because I could not balance the books or do they have to expect numbers in my face?

The lady did not give me a straight answer.She continued her story about the engineer who was wearing a denim jacket over a shirt emblazoned with some Gothic designs, denim jeans and Rebook shoes. He was shorter than the average height. Filipinos look younger than their age , so the immigration officer must have thought he was a stow-away slash pinabili slash ng suka slash sa kanto slash guy. No brainer but the lady swore to her neighbor's death that it really happened. ' key.

I joined the line of non-immigrant visa holders. It was a slow processing than those with green cards and blue passports.

Then I came face to face with the first Caucasian I met in the US. I remembered my friend's story that she was looking for someone in uniform when she came to the US. She was fond of watching COPS and other police stories.

The immigration officer scrutinized my passport. "Hmmm, so you're an accountant." I wanted to
answer back, "hmmmmmmm so what do you think?" But I just kept quiet. I remembered the other tip.

Tip #3

If the question requires, yes or no for an answer, then respond with a yes or a no. If there is a follow up question, then reply accordingly. Never volunter to offer any information unless asked. I took note of that. Sometimes when I was in my jovial mood, if you ask me my name, I would even tell you the story how my mother changed my name so I would enroll in the first grade.

He looked at me from head to foot. I did the same to him but it was only from head to chest.
He was sitting inside a cubicle with only half body in view.

He looked at my face again. He must be searching for the numbers in my face to prove that I am an accountant? *heh*

Tip # 4

Look straight to the eyes of the person talking to you.

He looked at me again. I look straight into his eyes. I was wearing my prescription glasses. He was wearing a tinted one. Madaya.

I was thinking he would ask me questions just like what they do in the US Embassy interview.
Remember, I skipped the interview for the reason I do not know. But I theorized the following explanations:

1. Probably someone got enamoured to my photo in my passport. Ahem;
2. Someone got scared of my photo that if he will not approve my visa, something bad might happen;
3. Someone got off in the right side of the bed, went to work humming and just stamping the passport with a visa;
4. my passport fell in an inbox tray marked FOR VISA stamping;
5. or they must have seen my work-related travels in my resume.

The immigration officer handed me back my passport and said WELCOME to the US and have a nice day.

I said thank you and with that I walked past the gate. The suitcase felt lighter.


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