Entering the United States is more difficult than trying to get into Lady Gaga’s dressing room! I have not yet landed in the States, I’m still in Toronto and already there are the first problems of immigration, emerging.
Upon landing at the airport, the U.S. customs made me fill out yet another form, where I had to write, even the address of where I was staying, and they wanted to know if I was carrying goods or products to sell and references for accommodation in case it was not a hotel or hostel.
I barely remember where I have to meet, with my Couch Surfing friend. I open my agenda and I read where the meeting place is: Subway Lower East Broadway. My friend didn’t give me his address, but only the coordinates to reach it.
So I write down in the address space, the subway name. In Toronto, who knows the streets of New York?
Wrong. I just noticed, the policeman who has balked on the address. I noted that “Lower East Broadway” is a neighborhood and not an address! Hell, the subways of New York are all roads. I’m so unlucky because I have taken the only subway station, that indicates a neighborhood.
The controller returns the form to me, warning me to call my friend and to get him to tell me his address, so I can pass through customs! I go out for a moment from the customs. I feel trapped in the airport. I’m feeling stressed. I try to call Rafael, the guy who will host me in New York, these coming days. Obviously being in Canada and not considering this obstacle, I have to change the currency U.S. dollars to Canadian dollars; I hadn’t signal in my mobile phone, so I call him in a cab.
I exchange U.S. $ 5, but despite trying to call Rafael, all I get is the answering machine and the money dissolves with less than a minute remaining. Without any more Canadian dollars and the problem not solved, I am in limbo. Where I can neither go forward nor back. And what can I do?
In the end I don’t care. I open the CTS guide ( Centro Turistico Studentesco, Student Tourist Centre), and write the first address; that of the Metropolitan Museum! Perfect, I’ll state that I live there. I’m sure that they won’t certainly check now, as to where I’m really staying.
I come back to the policeman, he asks me a few questions, and checks carefully, the form that I filled out. He talks to me as if we were friends, “Hey mate, what’s up?” But I understand the question and despite the informal conversation, he probably thinks that I am a poor immigrant. So, comes the first question: “Why are you in the States?” I answer that I am a journalist and I’m writing a report on New York and the East Coast. After many more questions, which I thought so ridiculous , he lets me pass, and puts the stamp of control on my document. I take a deep breath of relief and head out of that airport – that a few seconds ago, I thought it was a prison.
After eight hours flight I don’t feel the Chanel perfume on my skin. So I go to get a replenishment at the duty free shop. I also spread on anti-aging cream and change perfume: Terre d’Hermes! Meanwhile I go to the next gate, and I find a penny on the floor. I remember in the Stockholm airport, too, I found a penny, so I pick it up and I feel better.\It is a good omen and I hope it will bring me luck, just like the penny I found in Scandinavia.