playing hard-to-get

Another capital-visit was due last week; this time to Europe’s financial capital and ECB-headquarter Frankfurt. But my trip had nothing to do with EU-finances. Instead, I was headed to the U.S. Consulate General to apply for my visa. Having heard enough scary stories about people who had to wait for hours and hours, only to be informed that they had been forgotten and should come back the next day, I was  understandably anxious. Never before did I check my bag and my papers more thoroughly before leaving my appartment.  In the end, however, it was not the visa that was hard to get.

It takes approximately 4 hrs to get to Frankfurt, so in order to be on time for my appointment (and fulfill the German stereotype at least once in my life), I had to take the bus at 6 a.m.  And this is where things started to go wrong. I didn’t oversleep, if that’s what you’re thinking.  Although I must say that after only 3 hrs of sleep, it was rather my zombie-alter ego that was sleepwalking to the bus-stop. But at least it had my passport. No, first thing that prevented me from reaching Frankfurt was, that halfway to Aachen the bus broke and we all had to get on another line. Reaching the station way too late for my train, I was informed that my high-speed connection to Frankfurt Central Station was 50 mins late. Realizing that I would never make it in time for my appointment, I wanted to call the embassy. Unfortunately, I had left my phone and any other electronic communication devices at home, since they’re forbidden inside the consulate. So I tried to use public payphones and believe it or not, they’re actually still around, even though they seem to have become invisible to most people. But did you know that service-hotlines such as the one used by the embassy are blocked there? Very helpful indeed. It turned out to that Frankfurt was much harder to reach, than one would think.

Eventually, I got on a different train and I guess it was thanks to my sleep-deprived mind that I was not totally freaking out about missing my appointment. I have to admit though, that I had quite a wrong idea of how this whole visa-procedure would go about and did not expect the degree of mass-processing where it hardly matters whether you arrive in your designated time-slot or half an hour later. After some more interruptions and delays, I did make it to the consulate though, where I queued with cohorts of soon-to-be au-pairs and highschool-students. Drawing a service-ticket at the gate, I turned into a three-digit number and entered a universe of bureaucracy.

By now, I have my visa safely waiting for me at home, but next time, I’ll probably try a different city. Because as Frankfurt showed us, at the end of the day playing hard-to-get does not always lead to more affection.

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