I was so upset about the likelihood that I would spend the next six months (or probably longer) trapped in a bureaucratic cesspool of confusion and conflicting information whilst spending thousands of dollars on rent, penalties and veterinary bills, that I was ready to do something drastic. So I called USFWS.
The USFWS computerized telephone voice warned me that they are experiencing “significant delays” in processing CITES permit applications for birds, so I expected I’d only be able to talk to a real person after appealing to my congresscritter, Charlie Rangell, who is under investigation for criminal activities. But astonishingly, after only five minutes or so of pushing buttons and navigating the USFWS computerized phone system, I found myself talking to a real, live person: the biologist on duty for the day.
I was so flabbergasted that I was momentarily unable to speak. But once I started, my whole story poured out .. four, five, sentences — one sentence per dilemma — and I ended up angry at this ridiculously complicated process that reduces a rational person to tears and angry at myself for being so weak in front of a total stranger.
When I stopped, there was dead silence on the other end of the phone. Had the mysterious stranger hung up on me? I held my breath, wondering if the phone had died on me yet again. Finally, I heard him exhale and he told me that I also have to get CITES import permits from the Germans — something I never knew — and I need to have a German veterinarian to work with (I am working on getting this set up) and then he told me my agent’s name — Katherine — and her phone number so I could call her directly and ask her to expedite the process.
So I called Katherine. I listened to her very long voicemail greeting that warned not to use profanity or threats and not to call ten dozen times per day and half a dozen other unacceptable behaviors. I ended up leaving my message, telling her my PRT case number, my name and my phone number, my situation and then begged her to please please please expedite this process, and I would tell her anything, I would do anything — I’d bake her cookies! — if she could just please speed up this process.
And that was all. After I hung up, I realized that even though it was only noon, the holiday weekend had started. I would have to wait at least three days before Katherine even hears my message, and I wondered how many other dozens of messages like mine she has to listen to and would she even care about my situation?
And then I waited for the most reliable part of this relocation to happen: the moving company representative, Wayne, was coming out this evening. But he never showed up, nor did he call or send email telling me what the problem was.
I am starting to think that unless I jump on a plane and leave with just the clothes on my back, I’ll never see my spouse again, and I’ll never escape my miserable dead-end existence in this country.