Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Coming to America. With thanks to the US Embassy.

(Pic from National Geographic, link embedded)

This blog has been ambling along with no particular theme - an aide memoire of things that make me go aha or err. But I have noticed within me in the last few weeks an urge to reach for the keyboard when confronted with especially good service. And for regular readers, my Heathrow inspired frenzies suggest that I love documenting bad service too (if only to save on medical bills). So, this blog is developing a service-related theme, and that suits me fine. More about that in future.

Well today's experience of submitting my US visa application was a case in point. I have been transferred to the USA with my employer Nokia and need to get a US work visa, with a view to heading over to US in the next few weeks. So goodbye London, hello New York City. Should be a relatively easy transition with Big Co supporting me, but I had mentally prepared myself for turmoil and trauma - from the lawyers processing the case in the bowels of our corporate bureaucracy to the steely faced unflinching staffers behind perspex in the Embassy who would rip your painstakingly created application to shreds for not documenting every single country you'd visited in the past 10 years, or for not including the middle name of your former boss's labrador.

Well, I was wrong. First our lawyers delivered reams of paper work in short order, with no obvious typos. And second, and most surprisingly, the officials at the US Embassy were courteous, efficient and welcoming. I did try dot Is and cross Ts ahead of time, but still I was expecting some resistance. A probing examination of my motives; a frustrating queue to be told I needed to be in another queue. Not a bit of it. I went to Belfast since the London Embassy had a month wait, and apart from the initial 2hr queue, the processing and interview process took approximately 2 minutes. A nice American lady asked me one question about Nokia, cut me off as I was getting long and boring about Nokia's impending strategic shift to Internet services and my role within it, and said Welcome to America, your visa will there in a few days (now my faith rests on the slightly less broad shoulders of Royal Mail. Hmmm).

God Bless Uncle Sam. Here I come, America. Land of the Free. And now, me.


cschick said...

Welcome. I hope work doesn't take you away too much. NYC is a lovely city. A Polis like London, but with a shorter past, a lot happens on that little island and surrounding burroughs.

Now that you are officially living there, immerse yourself full-time in the history, culture, and quirks of the Big Apple.

Stefan said...

good luck with the transition! i was raised in NYC, but i bet you're going to be living somewhere a bit more north, closer to the whiteplains office.

if you're ever in Brooklyn check out grimaldi's pizza, best in the world, and don't forget to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art at least once a month. Not only for the new pieces, but I've met so many interesting people there it isn't event funny.