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الخميس 11 ديسمبر 2008

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Our Embassy in Washington
سفارتنا في واشنطن

I declare to all, that I am the worst procrastinator of all, in fact, if there is an association for my kind of folk, I would like to offer my name to become, the president of said association,

you see, my wife had left me many written notes on my desk, that is after all the verbal reminders, and funny emails, and even voice mailing, just to get me, to get my paperwork in good order so that she and I, can go on our cruese vacation, come January, and as usual, I made some sort of a reason, or two, as to why I did not get to it.

Well , here I am sitting and wandering, what in the name of heaven am I to say to her, our departure date is just around the corner, January second to be precise, and my Libyan Passport has expired some six months past.
So, I had to approach this situation with the at most deplomatic savey that I can possibly muster up, because my wife " God Love her " is very punctual, very detailed, and very much in control of every hour of her day, and you might say the whole family as well.

Just think how long it would take to get a visa, or to renue a passport in the USA!
Why, back in April, it took my wife four weeks to get her passport renued, so now you can see why, I was shaking in my boots. So I got on the good old enternet, and found the phone number for the Libyan Embassy offices in Washington.
A very lovely female voice answered the phone, in less than five rings, I pleaded my case to her, and, I am sure she ditected some sense of worried urgency in my old raspy voice, I must say, she had a very calming effect on my hopeless case, she transferred my call to a fellow Libyan in the Consulate, truth to be told, I did not give me a chance in hell.
I began to explain my case, and my need for an urgent assistance, then he started conversation, as if we have known each other from back when, he had applied a very assuring tone of voice, as if he was hinting that he, is very accustumed to my kind of procrastinators, he took the time to ask me about things that one would ask of a friend, to create a casual setting, to put you at ease, all that worry, and sense of urgency have disappeared. "Diplomacy at its very best" one might say.
Then with all the assurance that a diplomat can give, he said to me, if you send me your passport today, I will get it done and mail it back to you today... Today... I thought, this man is very " slick" smooth talker, as we say in America.

At long last, this lifelong procrastinator has found his challenger, so, I had to get off my " " , for in less than two hours, on Wednesday morning, I had all the documents and my passport in an overnight mail to DC.

Late on Thursday, and before the end of business, I thought I would call the consulate, just to check if they have receiced the documents, truth is... I knew they did get them, by my tracking number, well, the very same fellow took my call, regrettably, I could not remember his name, I stated to him, that I was only making sure, that they have received my papers, and to be sure, that everything was in order, the Libyan diplomat said, oh yes "Adulhamid" , in fact your passport is on its way back to you, as we speak.... for real,... I said, oh yes, he told me, very confident ... very assuring, as if this is the norm of doing business in our Embassy in Washington, and why not, as far as I am concerned, it was a very pleasent experience, it gave me the distinct impression, given my sircumstances, the service was very commendable.

Oh, one more thing, the fellow libyan Diplomat, did not want to put me to shame, or embarress me, for he did not call attention to the fact that I , neglected to send the required self addresses, self stamped envelope, so, he was very kind to send me back my passport the very same day, in an overnight delivery.

So, from a fellow Libyan, to all those servent leaders in our Embassy in DC. many thanks for job well done, and special thanks for saving my neck, when my wife posed that nagging question, with her glarrig eyes, I, very assuredly and casually said to her, but of course... my dear, it's done, aftr all... I have friends at the Embassy!!!

Before writing this peice, I took the time to contact six other foreign Embassies, just to ask about visa requirements, one Embassy has four of its offices in four states disconnected, and I had to stay on the line for fiteen minutes to get to a voice recording, the only other Embassy that was as prompt and occomodating was ,the Mexican Embassy in Washington, and its Consulate in Chicago. As for me... why change now...!

Abdulhamid Mustafa ben Hameda
Former correspondent
News America Group

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