I am too sleepy to do any research or finish editing any drafts…and too busy for anything like that, in any case. My two weeks in the States are going to zip by very quickly, so I have to make the most of my time here. And that is why today, while waiting for my parents to wake up, I am going to write about something amusing (in retrospect) that happened to me in the Zurich Airport just a few days ago. Zurich, incidentally, was where my parents and I caught our connecting flight to the States.
Our flight from Florence had been delayed, so we were in a bit of a hurry to change terminals in Zurich, as soon as we realized that our Boston flight was already boarding. But we had to go through security checks and passport control again. Mom went through passport control without any trouble, and then it was my turn.
The customs official opened my passport and looked through it very carefully. She scrutinized every single page. Precious minutes went by. Then she looked up at me and asked: “Do you have another passport?” I managed not to come back with “Oh sure, doesn’t everyone?” (I should note that I am only a U.S. citizen; that is, I do not have dual citizenship) but responded instead, “No, I don’t. Why?” She said, “Well, in that case, we have a problem.” “A problem?,” I repeated, frowning. “Yes. Your last entry stamp to Italy is 2004.” “Ohhhh,” I said, relieved, “That’s because I am a permanent resident of Italy…married to an Italian, you see.” Curling her lips as though I had told her that I lived in a muddy hole and ate guano ten times a day, she enquired, “Do you have proof of that?”
Luckily, for some reason that I cannot explain!, I had made a copy of my permanent resident visa the day before we left. I had also made copies of my medical records. I have never done this before…But, as it turned out, I was, and am!, mighty glad to have ‘em!
I whipped out my trip folder, found the photocopy of my visa and handed it to her. She looked it over and asked, “Do you have the original?” “No, I don’t. The original is in Florence; I don’t travel with it, for safety reasons,” I replied. Again, a scornful lip curl.
She finally raised her head and asked, “When you return to Italy, will you be passing through Switzerland again?” Her tone implied that, should this be the case, I would run into trouble…again. I smothered the desire to utter something snappy, such as, “No, you silly cow, of course not. I will be flying over Switzerland on Harry Potter’s hippogriff…” What I really answered was: “Yes, I will.” She handed back my passport, without further comments. By then her face was covered with smirks…
In her mind, I am certain, she believes that I am probably going to end up like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal.”
I say, what about all those welcoming posters hanging everywhere in the Zurich Airport…the “Welcome to Switzerland” ones, showing idyllic views of snow-capped mountains and cows grazing happily in flower-filled meadows…but, mainly, showing smiling, friendly people offering chocolate bars to tourists ? 😉