There are ten people waiting to pick up their passports at the work permit & visas office. We have all dropped our approval letters, passports, reference forms & deposits off earlier in the week and been assigned this time to return. We hand our receipts to the man with the massive stack of passports from all over the world on his desk, and we sit.
I am there 20 minutes before the first name is called. At 20 minutes per name I will be here past closing time, and certainly past the time my bank closes. Perhaps he is gaining speed. Perhaps there is hope. The next two people go while I am typing that last sentence. And then another lull.
The wee British man who looks like an accountant asks the large Jamaican man beside him if he knows how long this will take. The Jamaican shrugs, ‘Soon come, man, soon come. No worries. No telling how long.’ He laughs and adjusts his too large body in the too small chair. The British man twitches and taps his watch – he is the White Rabbit.
It seems Emmanuel has given up, or perhaps he stepped out for a smoke or to use the loo. His name is called 4 times before the passport man moves on. He will be sorry to go back to the end of the queue when he returns – except that there is no queue, just the giant stack of passports and the full waiting area. There are 6 other officers sitting or standing at their desks not serving anyone. I guess they aren’t qualified to assist with this job. They did their work when we came in earlier in the week.
Suddenly I am up. There is no rhyme or reason. I don’t hear my name at first, but I hear a mention of blondeness and look up. The small British man is still sitting beside the large Jamaican man. Their stamps of approval are still ‘soon coming.’ It’s all a part of learning to slow down.