Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Monday, March 30, 2015

My Card

A consular manager of Madam's acquaintance, who is otherwise strongly averse to personal publicity in public, actually clipped, saved and even considered framing an article from The New York Times that mentioned her by name in the woeful tale of a well-justified NIV refusal. "They summarized the details of the case accurately," she has said admiringly, "and, being the Times, they repeated the lawyer's complaint without stepping, themselves, into the trap of making an incorrect judgement. And they spelled my name right!"
Bravo Times!
 That an NIV case could make a major American newspaper is remarkable. That the newspaper could get the issues right is surprising. That the article's author, who never spoke directly with the officer, could spell a strangely-spelled (although single-syllable) name correctly is no less than eyebrow-raising.

And how did this miracle happen?

This officer, like nearly all FSOs, orders business cards on arrival at every new post. Unlike nearly all FSOs - and especially consular FSOs - she passes those cards out generously to:
local authorities she meets on her official rounds; more important, she says, the staff members of those local authorities, who - flattered and delighted that she notices and respects them - will sometimes call and give her a heads-up about something ugly that's going to happen; local Americans who blithely swear that they'll never have a problem because "these people all love me;" visiting Americans who seem headed for the ditch; disgruntled friends, relatives and lawyers of 214(b)s; and anyone else who asks - either gently or threateningly - for her name, believing that she will back off and refuse, and so lose both face and credibility. Especially to that last category, she accompanies the card with a kind but firm, "When you write your congressperson, please spell my name correctly."

Does the generous dispersal of her name, job title and phone number sometimes result in cut-and-paste forgeries, as local folks try to intimidate other local folks by pretending that they're her friend or confidant, or that she's on their payroll? Yes, of course. But, as she says, "We're US consular officers. We expect and are prepared for this sort of silliness. We are not paid to hide in safe dark places and pass out decisions through the bung hole. And besides, the power of freely giving your name to someone who wants to threaten you can seriously deflate those threats."

How sure is she that this is the right thing to do? Sure enough that when she received a call from a man who told her simply but very firmly, "If you don't (XXX) we're going to kill you," she responded, "Fair enough. Just make sure that you send your bomb or your hired murderer after the right person. My name is spelled (XXXXX)." She never heard from him again, and is still alive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is pretty cool when your visa decision makes national news. I issued this Chinese widow a visa. Never found out if she went back to China or not, petitioned for asylum or whatever. Don't really care. My bosses liked me a lot for doing this. Good bosses in Guangzhou, back then.