Visiting the Embassy

You might find it necessary to go to your local Embassy or consulate.  It isn’t likely to be pleasant.  Modern embassies are fortresses.  Local guards surround it, carrying automatic rifles, maybe flanked by armored cars.  Surveillance cameras watch every approach.  Inside, Marine Security Guards stand duty behind thick glass, shotguns at the ready, with buttons to release tear gas or barbed wire, or to lock all exterior doors.  You might be visiting just to register the birth of a child or to renew your passport, and you find this inhospitable gauntlet.  You’ll have to pass through a metal detector.  They’ll open your handbag and go through it, and you’re a citizen!  For crying out loud!  Who do they take you for?  Osama himself?!

To make matters worse, the “teaming refuse” and “huddled masses” (from a poem at the Statue of Liberty) are all around the Embassy, applying for visas, holding protest signs, selling drinks to people in line, hoping to use Embassy resources for business links in the U.S., etc.

Don’t be put off.  Press on.  Go in.  The Embassy is there to serve you.  They need all the security features.  It doesn’t have to be in a hotbed country.  Embassies have been attacked almost everywhere.  I once asked a security office why I needed to wear my picture ID even after I was inside the Embassy among people who knew me.  This veteran of the Beirut bombing, with the scars to prove it, said without hesitation, “It’s so we can identify your remains if a bomb removes your face.”  Eeew!

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