Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Conversations with the FBI of a non-productive nature

Last week, I received a letter from the FBI saying something I already knew: I am not a criminal.  Nevertheless, I was overjoyed.  With this letter, I could finally return to the Spanish consulate and shove my (finally!) completed visa application in their face (I might even be tempted to yell, "In your face" at this point even though I have never used that expression in my life).  I was so excited to receive this letter, that I was about to break open some champagne (or white zinfandel if I was in a crunch). I was about to cartwheel around my living room. I was about to jump up and down and screech with my hands waving about. I was about to post the stupid letter on my blog.  I was about to do all of these things until a thought hit me:  Where was the Professor's letter?  Why did I get mine when he didn't get his? After all, we sent in our background checks in the same envelope so, theoretically we should have gotten our letters at the same time.  

After briefly considering that my husband may be a serial killer and the FBI had finally cottoned on, I decided to call the FBI and find out why his letter was missing.

A brief disclaimer: This is not an actual conversation. During the actual conversation there was a lot more cursing (albeit with my hand over the mouthpiece).

Me:  Hi. My husband and I sent our background checks to be processed in the first week of July and yesterday, I received my letter of good conduct but my husband's letter has still not arrived.

FBI:  Oh, I see here that your husband's background check was sent along to another department to be authenticated.

Me: Authenticated? Does that mean that the official letter from the FBI that I received was not authenticated?

FBI:  Well, does your letter have a raised seal on it?


FBI: Well, I'm afraid your letter has not been authenticated.  We're going to need you to send that back to us so we can authenticate it for you and then we'll send it back to you.

Me: (passing my hand wearily over my eyes)  Okay.....and how long will it take for you to send it back to me?

FBI:  It should take no more than two weeks.

Me: WHAT?!  This whole process has already taken over ten weeks and it's not MY fault that the FBI didn't authenticate my letter in the first place when I clearly stated in my initial application that it needs to be authenticated.

FBI: Right. Well ma'am, we can't predict how long it should take. You see, once the mail gets to the FBI-

Me:  Fine, but why can't you just print another letter and THIS TIME actually authenticate it?

FBI:  Well, but we need to have the original first.

Me:  Okay, how about if I send in the original but in the meantime you go ahead and start working on an authenticated letter.

FBI:  Well, it just doesn't work that way.

Me: (grasping at straws. Note: straws mean logic in this metaphor) Look, I'm pretty sure that everything is computerized over there.  So, why can't you just print-

FBI:  Actually since the seal is official, that part is done by hand not a machine.

Me:  Right, but the letter itself was not handwritten. So....why can't you just print----Can I speak to your supervisor please?

As you can see, after hitherto living in a world where logic and reason can solve any problem, I came unceremoniously crashing down to a world where being on hold and being spoken to like you're the one who is not making any sense, is the norm.

What is the upshot of this post?  We don't have our letters yet so our visa applications are still sitting untouched in the consulate.  Oh, and in case it wasn't clear, if I never hear the words "FBI background check" again, it will still be too soon.


  1. Gotta love U.S. red tape! Do you suppose people from other countries face the same when relocating somewhere else?

  2. Sheesh...I've had mind numbing bureaucratic conversations similar to that...I feel your pain!

  3. Raise your hand if the FBI is giving you indigestion!

    **Both hands up**