31 July 2005

Proof of Non-Gangsterism

There really is such a thing, a ‘Letter of Clearance”, available from the county Sheriff’s office. I got mine yesterday.
My fingers had cracks in them. The technician questioned if I did cleaning without gloves. No, never. Turns out that if you get enough cracks in your prints, they can’t be read. Seems some people burn their finger tips to get just that effect. But then one day they realize that they need a clearance letter for one reason or another and go to the Sheriff’s office.
“I’ve had guys come in here with scabs on their fingers”, the tech told me as she rolled my left thumb on the scanner. “And let me tell you, they don’t always smell so good.” I noticed she was wearing gloves.
As she continued scanning my fingers, she told me about this marginal-looking dude who came in to check on his criminal record. She ran his name and prints and found that he had a warrant out on him. He was promptly cuffed and carted off, forcing him to leave his belongings on the counter. Another officer came to retrieve the items, which included a paper bag. He opened it and found a snake. I asked if the critter had been taken to the animal shelter. It had, but the girlfriend was allowed to reclaim it the next day. Personally, I think the snake should have been kept in protective custody.


25 July 2005


"Your ticket for August 2nd will be mailed to you tomorrow, but it might be changed to a different airlines because of turbulence".
Turbulence? But my flight is more than a week away.
"There are some storms over the South China Sea. But don't worry, you can go on another airline".
So I'll be going with another carrier?
"We don't know yet. The flight was cancelled, but we have the back-up. You'll get the ticket on Wednesday".

At least I have the visa. Everything else is kind of crazy. My living room is sorted into piles of "take"/"ship later"/"who knows?" The "take" pile is getting awfully big even taking into account my two extra bags. And just maybe I won't even be flying out on the 2nd. Hopefully, it won't be any sooner.

After the ticket situation conversation, I moved on to questions about the course books the school uses.

"For the younger children -"
Wait, I said, I thought I was to teach in the college.
"Oh, you will. But you will also teach in the public schools."
OK. What books do you have.
"There are some photo-copies and we will get a new book with a teachers manual so all you have to do is walk in and teach".
Fine. And what are the hours?
"7:30 -9:30, 2:00-4:00, and 7pm-9pm".
I teach from 7 in the morning until 9 at night?
"No, no. You'll teach in the morning and then later teach in the evening".

Our conversation lasted about 15 minutes, and I still don't know when I will be leaving, what age group I will be teaching, what hours I will be working. That's OK. It just makes it an even bigger adventure.

Back to packing


16 July 2005

Visa Hang-Ups

"I need your justice record from the city Hall nearest you because Vietnam government wants to have a copy of your biography record. Since you will work in Vietnam and earn an income, thus they need to have a look at your historical record I think."

I think I should be off to Vietnam in about 2 weeks. Then again, every time I think all is in order, I receive another slightly confusing, not-so-straight-forward email from my prospective employer. Last week I got part of my visa papers in the mail. I called the Vietnamese consulate to find out what else I needed to do. I was asked for the fax number listed on the form. "But it's in Vietnamese", I said. Then I took another look at the paper. Fortunately, 'fax' is 'fax' in Vietnamese, I was able to find the number and relay the information, and It seems I have been approved.

Meanwhile, I will try to concentrate on sorting and packing. In all my years of moving around, I still don't know how to pack or how to decide what really is essential. I know I won't get it all into the 2 bags I'm allowed. I know I'll take things that I will never use. I know I will forget to take something that I need and can't get in Vietnam.

So I am in a holding pattern until the next email, or phone call, or letter arrives that will hopefully contain info about my date of departure. Time to return to the packing.