LonDumb – Part I

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Border Control

Unbelievable – EMF

Cab’s outside. My clothes are still wet. What. The. Funk. Dryer mysteriously died the night before. Damp garments strewn all over my abode. Dry, funkers, dry!! Need to pack you, you and you. Need ye all for my trip to London. Vital I have that white t-shirt and that white t-shirt and that pair of socks, vita– Actually. I’ve over packed as is, so, I, don’t. Ha. Cab man’s beeping. Com-ing! And out the door I go. Flustered little whure. Still on time. Just leaving packing until the very last minute. But. Not to worry. On the road! Just swing by Kailand’s house. Swoop her up. My mighty London trip partner in crime. Honk honk. Out comes Kailand and her smaller suitcase up. How is hers smaller than mine? Maybe a more ergonomical packer? Is ergonomical even a word? Who knows, who cares, I’m sweating, lugging luggage, my top’s now off, panting in the back off the mini bus, Jesus, L.A is hot today, and now we are actually on our way. Off to England for a spot of tea and crumpets. LonDumb, here we… Ahem.

Sweaty Boy

Check in. Air New Zealand. Bumped up. Premium. Oh Betsy. Mighty. Notice Mischa Barton checking in one ahead. Moving up to the C-List of the world. Security. Sandwich. Wait. Board. Dancing. Suss out our seats. Appears we have done well. Premium means pod. As in instead of a cramped row of seats in the mule class behind, we are now swimming in space in a pod like container. Buckets of room. Kind of like First Class. But just not quite. Still. Pod class all the way. Flying like winners across the Atlantic. Mighty. Highly recommended!

Pod Air New Zealand

Like all good flights, this one flies by. Watch a bit of The Holiday. Watch a lot of The Office. Finish off with The Adventures of Tin-Tin. Served some nay too shabby food. Real cutlery. Almost reminds me of the private jet. This flight is kind of a laugh. Kailand is loving it too. Both of us pumped for London! There for a week or so. Holiday. Sight seeing. Few meetings. See our buddy in concert. Gibber. Gabber. Bit of a Buck. Check out the Palace. Say hi to my family. Lond. On!

Pod Almighty

Last five minutes of Tin-Tin. Feel a bump. Look out from my pod. Thanks be, to God. We’re in Heathrow. Pod class is so mighty you can keep watching the movie until the end no matter what. Tin-Tin saves the day. Solves the mystery. Good man yourself. Mighty adventurer! Collect our hand luggage. Stroll out. Feel the chill. London air. See the rain. Those big grey clouds. Oh no. Haven’t seen them in a while. Thankfully, I have a secret weapon… Kailand! If you ever get the chance to travel with an American who is brimming full of joy and happiness, I highly recommend. Not only do you get to see the places you go to through excited eyes, but that same joy will even make you forgot about rain, cold and clouds. It’s mighty. Next time you go home for a visit, grab an enthusiastic American. It is waaaay better.

Anyway. No Ireland this time. Just London. But it shall be mighty. Kailand is pumped. Wanting to go to London since she was 14. Favourite bands are all English – Coldplay, Queen, the Beatles. Now we’re here, just off the plane, excitement overload. Grey? Cloud? Cold? Wuu!! She can finally wear some winter clothes!! Amazing!!! So we’re strolling through the airport corridors. Heading towards visa control. Sussing out the best way to get to where we’re staying. Wondering where my scarf is. Kailand goes for the US visitor line. I go for the EU visitor line. Lady at the desk looks at my Irish passport. Looks at me. Waves me through. Almost as tough as getting through the passport control back home in Cork (no one ever at the desk at all so you just walk through, tight security). I make my way towards Kailand’s exit. See that she’s still at the desk. Talking to the passport woman. Talking. Smiling. More talking. Confused. Perplexed. Talking. Woman (who I’ll now refer to as The Wagon) hands Kailand a slip of paper. Points to go sit down. Hmmm. I look at Kailand. Shrug my shoulders “What’s the jam?” Kailand shrugs back “Not sure. Not strawberry though.” Hmmm. This is odd. Especially as that woman has now left. And then returns about fifteen minutes later with a two security guards. What. The. Funk?

All three escort Kailand through the gate. I’m literally about thirty feet away from Kailand the whole time, so can just watch it all very confused. Kailand is a singer/model. Well dressed. Good looking. Full of life. Here for a week on holiday. No weird skeletons in the closet. No convictions. No arrests. No record. What’s the hold up? The Wagon comes over to me… Excuse me, what’s going on, where are you taking my friend? “We’re taking her away for further questioning, we must go get her bags and search her stuff, she might be a while.” Ehh, what now? What the- Why so? “We have suspicion that she is here to work for substantial money and stay in the country for longer than she claims.” Huh? But she’s not. We’re here for a week. Going back to L.A. The sun shines in L.A! Why would we not be? She’s not staying to work here.

“Well, that’s none of your concern now. You have to leave. Go wait outside.”

From here on in, it all went a bit surreal. Ridiculous brutal kind. For the next ten hours I sat in Costa Coffee right outside the gate, waiting for Kailand. For those ten hours, Kailand was locked up in a small bare white room with nothing but a telephone. All her luggage was taken away and searched. All her hand luggage was taken off her. No real explanation of what was going on was explained. Just that Kailand had told The Wagon she was a singer when asked what she did. The Wagon asked was she going to perform, presenting it like she could be interested in going to see Kailand perform. Kailand said yes, might be playing one or two nights, small venues. The Wagon then made this into a case of Kailand coming to the U.K to perform and make thousands of pounds earnings from this small, non-paying gigs which were lined up. Basically show casing a few songs for record companies and the likes who are interested in her music. Not a penny being paid. All for free. But the Wagon decided this was not the case. And then went on a rampage. As if Kailand was a terrorist. Seriously. It gets more mental.

So I’m outside. Chugging coffee. Confused. Surprised. Sure it’ll be OK. Although where the funk did they take her? Like prison. Whisked her off. No questions answered. Time for sussing. Find a number. Find a pay phone. Out with the credit card. Ring the number. Operator comes on to ask me a few questions. Then informs me my bank just canceled my card. Thinks it’s been stolen. Even though I rang the day before and told them I’ll be in England. Good work, bankers. Bank. Hole. Wall. Money. Cash. Shop. Change. Back to the pay phone. Phone the number again. Customs office at Heathrow. Ask who I’m phoning about. Tell me they’re busy. None of my business. Don’t I have something better to be doing. Hang up on me. Phone back. Realise it’s me. Hang up again. More change. More calling. More hanging up. Finally one person gets fed up. Gives me the number of the room Kailand is in. Phone that. Kailand answers. Fills me in. What. The. Funk?

Six hours in, I’m telling Kailand it’s OK, they’re just doing it to freak you out, realise soon enough they were wrong. Seven hours. Kailand’s freaked. Tired. Drained. Sick. Eight hours. Another interview. Wagon of a woman lies. Claims she spoke to the venues. Told her Kailand is going to be paid a fortune for the gigs. In reality the venues emailed Kailand to confirm they told the Wagon that she was there for a small promotional appearance, no money involved. Wagon, some weasel, continues with Kailand. Just confess, she knows, tell the truth. Kailand tells the truth. Not. Getting. Paid. This is all a mistake. Wagon says it doesn’t matter anyway, all down to her first impression. Kailand is brought back to the white room of nothing. Knows now she’s goosed. Nine hours. I still think they’re going to stop being so dumb. Any minute now. Kept telling Kailand, you’ll be fine, they’re just trying to freak you out, it’ll be grand, they can’t be this dumb, stay strong. Ten hours. Phone Kailand again. In tears. Just got told she’s being sent back home to USA. Denied. Detained. Deported. Are you funking joking me?? Some joke.

My money runs out. Have to go off and get more change for the pay phone. Phone back the number again. No answer. Phone phone phone. No answer. Jesus. Pick up! Phone back some of the numbers. Eventually one guy answers. Asks me who is it I’m phoning about… “Oh, right, I heard about that case. I don’t know what to say…” What to say? Say it’s a joke! Surely you can reverse it? “I can’t do anything about it, all down to the judgement of the officer in charge of the case, her decision and she made that one, somehow.” Can you put me through to the officer please? In fairness, he does.

Finally on the phone with the Wagon. Tells me the decision has been made. Nothing she can do now. I fill her in on what is the actual situation, not whatever she’s conjured up in her head. Here for one week, back to L.A., Kailand just got a new apartment, she has to be back for a modeling job, these venues in London aren’t big or paying gigs, just small things, here for a holiday, see friends, not here long term or to make lots of money touring like you think. Wagon: “Oh, well, if that’s the case, hmm, I might have made a mistake but there’s nothing I can do about it now.” There is, you can just reverse the decision and let Kailand in and it can still be fixed. “I can’t, I just stamped the paperwork, it’s official.” Just fill in new paperwork! Change it!! This is a joke, you can fix it still, you just said you made a mistake. “Well now we’re just going around in circles, don’t you have something better to be doing?” And then the Wagon hung up on me. Called her back. Asked for her name. Hung up on me again. Called the first guy back. No longer as sound when I asked for her name. “Can’t tell you that.” Hung up on me. Phoned the funkers back again: Where’s Kailand now? “Oh, we’ve taken her to a facility off the airport grounds where she’ll stay overnight before being put on a plane back tomorrow.” What do you mean, a facility off the airport grounds? What kind of facility? “Detention centre.” Like a prison? And then he hangs up again.

So now Kailand is on a bus to a detention centre. I phone another number in passport control and find out the name. It’s about half ten at night and I’m pretty goosed. Arrived at about ten in the morning. Adrenaline made me plough through any jet lag but the lack of food and water starts to kick in. Not sure what I can do. Just head to the hotel and see what I can do from there. Off I go. Jump on a tube. Raining. Wind howling. Bitterly cold. Not sure where I’m going. It’s brutal. Meant to be pumped. Now just spaced. Worried. Where is Kailand? What is a detention centre? Why did that Wagon do this??

Get to the hotel. Up to my room. Google the name of the detention place. See that it’s basically a prison. Jesus Christ. What are they doing?? Almost like shipping a terrorist off to Guantanamo Bay. So I start phoning the centre. No answer. No answer. Click. Get an operator. Tells me it’s too late. Tell her it’s not. She curses down the phone at me (it’s odd how freely these people cursed at me “For f**k’s sake, would you just f**k off and leave me alone”). Eventually she puts me through to a number. Ring ring. Somebody answers. I hear a “Heh?” Ask for Kailand. Hear another “Heh?” Phone is put down on the table. And then Kailand comes on the phone. Found her. Fills me in. Windows all have bars. Men’s detention centre but they’re in the women’s section of it. There are five other women, three Indian and two Vietnamese, none of whom speak English. All the guards are confused as to why Kailand is in there. No one is sure what is going on. Except that the Wagon took a dislike. And then truly screwed Kailand. Dirty Wagon.

On the upside, Kailand says the guards at this place are really nice. So are the other five in there, even if they don’t speak English. They all seem to like Kailand’s clothes and hair. They’ve all finally been given food too. So Kailand is sipping on a glass of milk while eating a banana, like a hardened criminal would. Imagining that while all the other women are sitting around was the first funny visual I got all day. I think Kailand is now addicted to milk ever since. One plus.

After about ten minutes they’re told it’s lights out soon. Dose. Hang up. Go to sleep in my hotel spaced out of it. Wake up early. Phone back the prison. Kailand is sipping on more milk. About to leave. Won’t tell her what flight or when it leaves back to L.A but has to go to the airport now. Balls. I try to suss out when it might be. See if I can change my flight back. Feel brutal for Kailand. Tells me don’t. Stay. Get my stuff done. Next minute I hear her name called. Followed by five non-English speaking ladies all saying good bye. After that Kailand was escorted back to the airport, put on a plane, finally given her stuff back onboard, and then sent back to L.A. Some joke. Brutal. Still can’t understand it writing it now. But. That’s what happened. Dodge. Disgrace. Gutted. Kailand!

Ever see the movie Conviction with Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell? He was wrongfully jailed. One policewoman got the hump with him and went out of her way to make sure he was punished for some reason. Power tripping wagon. Kind of reminded me of that. Obviously being in jail for years and years is way worse. But still dodge how these people get stuff so wrong. (Also, if you watch that movie, don’t Wikipedia what happened after it ends.) At least Kailand got to go back to L.A. Not some remote part of Vietnam. Although I hear it’s a nice place and all. Anyway. Now. As for the rest of my trip…

Howdy

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22 thoughts on “LonDumb – Part I

  1. crazy how they can deprive you of your liberty at the drop of a hat, and under a wrong impression, scary world my man

  2. That’s absolutely awful. I’m always worried I’m going to say the wrong thing to US immigration officers (I once made the horrific mistake of admitting to them that I was “unemployed” en route to NYC—that was before I felt like I could say I was writing full-time—but got away with it, probably because no one would be *that* stupid…) but never thought about what Americans have to deal with when they enter the EU. I hope your friend gets to see London eventually. Fly to Ireland and take a ferry! 🙂

    • Awful all right. I made a few blunders coming into the US as well before, managed to talk my way out of them, probably got away with surely he’s not that stupid as well. London will have to get a rerun. Ferry on, mighty call!

  3. Wow, when I began reading I was thinking, (this is different). Not your usual writing style. But then it turned into a suspense thriller. I can see why your writing changed with this.

    Sorry about your friends adventure with UK immigration. I always have the fear of something like that happening to me. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Hope all is well back in Los Angeles.

    Anyway, it’s good to read a proper blogaruu.

    • Different buzz indeed. Weird all right how they can just pull you aside at whim and go to town because they might be having a bad day.

  4. A scary read. Agree with Cary above… this blogaruu has a different tone to it. Compulsive reading as ever, but in a horrifying way. So sorry to read of Kai’s misfortune. An awful time for both of you. Hope it doesn’t put her off coming back another day. Bring on Part 2… things can only get better!

  5. Some advice for Kai from friends who are professional musicians who tour a lot. Don’t list your profession as Musician on your arival/departure card. Always raises red flags for drug searches and visa issues. “Managment” is fine.

    Also if she is playing advertised gigs, that will raise red flags. It’s unfortunate.

    I’ve been through the same thing as her at Heathrow (shipped back to New Zealand) but I overstayed my visa.

    • Know now about what to put down and not, cheers for the advice. Disaster to be shipped all the way back to New Zealand as well, some flight. Was it along the same lines, treatment wise?

  6. I hope you realize that from now on your friend will have to note that she has been deported – nearly all countries ask this on visa paperwork; this also automatically disqualifies you from most “on-entry” visas. She will want to fight this one and get the record straightened out…

  7. At the same time, do not lie. They can and will do a Google search for you. And then you are truly screwed if they find out who you are. Plus, she is in the system now. Hope she received voluntary return and not an expedited removal. If expedited, she is screwed for returning to London and much of the EU in the future – she will have to get a visa, no longer VWP eligible, and no way to ever fix it. Suck!

    Not as brutal as going to the U.S. though, now that is bad. And next time, ask for the supervisor, always go up to the supervisor as soon as an officer admits an error. “Hi, your officer admitted she made an error in her finding, but says it is already stamped so it cannot be changed. Could you please review her decision?”

    Yes, I advise people on this professionally. This is not legal advice and you are not my client, and nobody else who reads this is either. After all, you cannot tell what or who I am on the internet. I could just be some crackpot.

  8. All I can do is apologise for my country – the increased level of paranoia is due to the right wing governments obsession with decreasing immigration. You should be thankful you’ve got Obama again ….

  9. Pingback: LonDumb – Part II | Enough Talk, More Writing!

  10. Pingback: LonDumb – Part IV (Or… Kneed A Dwarf In The Face.) | Enough Talk, More Writing!

  11. Pingback: LonDumb – Part V (Or… Why Did I Eat Paper?) | Enough Talk, More Writing!

  12. Pingback: LonDumb – Part VI (Or, Am I Being Deported?) | Enough Talk, More Writing!

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