DIARIES OF AN INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION. EPISODE 3. SMOKEY AND THE SWISS BALL

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By The Informant

The visa request desk used to be manned by a gentleman who unapologetically smoked at you like it was the good old days when quotepeople simply got out of the way of the hot burning thing and didn’t act like they were owed an apology simply because you had found a way to experience pleasure in a kind of fatal manner they were too scared to try. It was subsequently manned by a gentleman who appeared to have bought all of his clothes when he was still a member of the National Powerlifting Team and hadn’t yet discovered the joys of coffee and doughnuts.

“Smokey”, on the 3 days per week the visa office would open to the public for 2 hours at 10 AM would poke his head round the door waving the smoke out ahead of him. He would pause for a moment, remove the cigarette from his mouth and subtly wave it at you as if to say,

“What’s your rush, son? You’ll be allowed in once I finish this fag. I’ll only be another minute (or so)”.

Then he would cough that hallowed cough only a man with a lifelong nicotine addition can proudly claim as his own. Smokey was old school. Bless him. Reports of his demise are spurious to say the least. Some say it was of ‘natural causes’.

The human punch bag subsequently charged with the role had a huge meaty head the size of a deflated Swiss ball and greeted you with the kind of expression you would expect from a man who has slam dunked larger men from a standing overhead press. He kept a measured distance from the kiosk window ensuring no actual contact could take place without his express intent and with a nonchalant gesture fired from the hip like a gunslinger indicated you might place your petition before him that he might peruse it should he see fit. He was a man of few words. None of which were, “thank you for coming”. If your first page displeased him, with a flick of his gargantuan chin, he would gesture for you to show him a further page and you had better get it right this time as he was not a ‘three strikes’ man. His justice was swifter and exercised in two.

Upon acceptance of your petition, you were presented with a credit card payment machine followed by a receipt. No words were exchanged. You did not ask when you can come to collect the Visa. It is wise to allow not less than ten working days before attempting to do so either. If you need your Visa quicker than that, you will need to write to the relevant Ministry of Foreign Affairs but Smokey hated when his authority was circumnavigated and when he cottoned on to what we were up to, he smoked at us really hard, his eyes squinting accusingly behind the smog of nicotine smoke and contempt. No such circumnavigational endeavours were ever embarked upon with balloon head and had you done so you would have been advised to go get it yourself.

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