Sunday, July 03, 2011

How Sven Got Home with an Expired Green Card

After my post a week ago on getting adjusted, everyone has been asking about Sven's return from Sweden, presumably eventful, since his green card had expired. How did he get into the country? Even my kids want to know the details. So, without further ado, here's the story, in his own words ...

SVEN: In some ways I knew that I had no one to blame but myself. And, it’s kind of typical for me, ending up in a mess. Then, getting out of it, to everyone’s surprise. So, here we go. Chapter 1. I showed my Green Card when I left the USA, and no one said a word. The day before leaving Sweden, by accident, I discovered that the card had expired. So, I called my wife and tried to have some kind of comfort in my angst. Well, it didn’t turn out that way. She simply said, “I’m not sure they are going to let you back in the country.”

I took my chances. I went to the airport. When the Icelandic air personnel realized my green card had expired, they refused to give me a seat on the airplane. So, I used my charm to convince a young woman to help me get a three-month visa.

She said, “I’ll help you, but I have no idea what you will do if you end up having problems at Logan.”

Chapter 3. I get to Logan, and the passport control guy looks at my passport.

“What are you planning on doing here?” he asks.

I reply, “I hope to see my loving wife.”

“Do you have a return ticket?”

The answer to that was, of course, no. So, he sent me to another official, a guy with a freshly shaven head, someone who was very proud of his uniform, not to mention the power he wielded.

I ended up with a bunch of other – what? Questionable illegals of differing skin color and origin.

I immediately recognized one nice guy among the INS officials and crossed my fingers that he would handle my case, along with a woman who seemed very reasonable.

Note that two hours have passed by now.

The nice guy says, “Come in please.”

I show my passport, and my expired green card.

When I pull out my expired driving license, the guy exclaims, “Jesus Christ!”

I say, “That’s not the only one. Want to see my Swedish driving license? It has expired, too.”

The two officials start laughing.

“Don’t be angry with me please because I have a wife, and she is always saying can’t you ever keep your papers in order? So, I am going to have my share of scolding once I get home, if I get home.”

Meanwhile, our conversation has attracted attention.

After checking my papers, the nice guy’s colleague says, “We can let you in if you pay $500. Do you have the money?”

“That’s no problem,” say I.

The nice guy looks at me: “Well, well, well. How do you explain this mess?”

I start with a long explanation and they ask me to sum it up fast.

I say, “I must have been very sloppy.”

“You don’t have to pay anything,” the nice guy decides. “Please leave. Oh, and, one more thing. When does your passport expire?”

“I have no idea.”

He says, “Jesus Christ. 2014. Make sure to get a new one by then!”