Saturday, 31 December 2011

One way to finish off the year

Well, yes, I suppose technically me and my three kids are illegal immigrants. If you actually insist on that permit-to-stay thing.

That thing in the passport. The date-stampy thing I completely misread as 1 December 2012 when actually it reads 1 December 2011.

Consequence of which, over-staying visa, we spend three hours in queues down the Hong Kong immigration department.

Imagine offices as you would expect in a run-down UK local tax office, last decorated in 1979, and here you are. It is not the most exciting of places to pass a New Year's Eve morning, but Dig says if I implement Plan A - make a run for it via Macau to obtain a reentry visitor visa - then I will be arrested and deported. Better do grown up grovelling instead.

Words like extremely sorry are used with horrendous frequency. Honestly, I wouldn't apologise so much if I'd had an affair and nicked ten thousand quid.

And I did my humble look.

There was no need for the immigration officer to stare, horrid fascination, like at a car crash. It was meant to be my special meek and pleading face. Admittedly I do not use it very often, but still, I should be given credit for trying.

It was either my face or my other calculating strategy. Shove Tiger at an officer in a uniform. Tiger usually can be relied upon to look terrified at anyone in a uniform. I thought maybe seeing a distraught child would help bring out the soft and cuddly side of a Chinese Immigration Official. Children have to come in useful for something, and weeping and snivelling to get their mama off the hook could be it.

And don't ask me why Tiger looks traumatised by uniforms; maybe it was that time she was made to sit in the back of a riot van while I was cautioned, I don't know. Perhaps she thinks they're going to cart her off to prison.

But my plan would never have worked today. She is 110% pissed off at being prodded out of bed at 6.30am to arrive at miserable peeling tax offices before they open, and she's showing it with her enormous scowl, bigger than all Europe, and by growling at anyone who comes near her, uniformed or not.

In the end neither she nor my sad face plan works. I just use the words sorry sorry sorry. We have to write a letter on the spot as demanded with more grovelling apology and, proper Hong Kong problem-solving method, pay a wodge of cash to an officer with a till.

Thankfully, when they have extracted the letter and the cash, I can go relax in Starbucks, rather than in cells round the back. We have two weeks not to forget about it, otherwise I'm in Big Trouble.

But I haven't any defence. I simply have a chronic problem with understanding time.

2010? 2011? 2012? The way I live my life, it's all the same to me.


sharon said...

Starting the year on a low note - it can only get better . . . :-)

Nora said...

I hate to think of you and the girls as being illegal aliens so I hope this mess is soon sorted out. I'm sorry you had to humble yourself. That's so demeaning. Hopefully the rest of the year will shine brighter. Happy New Year.