Thursday, April 12, 2007

Step One

I was thinking of a title for today's blog as I walked around the neighborhood. Since buying a pedometer, my daily goal has been to make 10,000 steps. I normally average 7,000 to 8,000, so when I get home, I just walk some more to reach my goal.

Walking helps clear my mind. And relaxes me. Today, I walked 12,154 steps because of this morning's events. I almost entitled this blog, "Discrimination at the Gate".

I arrived at the US Embassy in Manila close to 7AM. It's located along Roxas Blvd. Long lines are to be expected at this place... year-round. I get there, and am herded to the end. Normally, US citizens are allowed to enter without having to line up at the first stop on embassy grounds. For some reason, today was different. Not wanting to make a scene or expect preferential treatment even though I am American, I obediently go to the end of the line. Filipino guards are shouting, "American Services, DHS, SSS, Veteran's, Non-Immigrant Visas, this line."

I make eye contact with a guard and smile. I wave my blue passport hoping to be told I'm in the wrong line. Nothing.

Fifteen minutes later as the line starts moving, I notice Caucasians and African Americans are being waved through after showing their blue passports. At this point, I'm already five people away from the head of the line. I interrupt said guard waving all the foreigners through, look him in the eye and say, "You told me to line up. I showed you my blue passport. Why didn't you let me through this way?"

He defends himself and asks, "Where are you going?"

"Inside the embassy. I'm a US citizen."

"What department are you going to?" A question the foreigners are not asked.

I was thisclose to blowing my top. I opt for calm. "DHS." He waves me through.

The rest of my time inside the embassy is spent reading a book I'm glad I brought. After ninety minutes of waiting and one minute at the window with an officer, I'm asked to bring another document that's not on the list. Tomorrow.

How anti-climactic. Discouraged, I head to work to clock in and re-file my morning leave for Friday. A pastry from Bread Talk provides comfort for the cab ride halfway across town. At the office, I poke around the blogosphere and am pleasantly surprised to find a new blogger, my pastor, with this post - about his eight year old son's death, and his coming to terms with letting God be God.

I repent for my heart's condition: its pride, its selfishness, its discouragement.

So I had a bad day. A guard gave me a little bit of attitude and I didn't get to accomplish what I set out to do. My friend and pastor lost his only son at the age of eight. I kick myself in the butt.

Job's words of how God gives and takes away have always been my sobering reminder when I let ugliness into my soul. It is a privilege to even be allowed to live and breathe on this earth. Who am I to think anything is ever owed to me?

Getting my daughter to the US is irrelevant. It's the journey of my character that matters most to God. Hopefully when, or if, we get to Hawaii or Florida, I will be more like His Son.

song playing in my room: the soft rumble of the airconditioner


Kevin said...

My, that's not cool at all. People still make such prejudiced assumptions based on absurdities, and it is really sad.

Your reflection on this event though, is uplifting. It's only when we take the bad along with the good can we really begin to appreciate and understand either.

And you are so right that it is the journey that's important. People forget that far too often. Even I do, sometimes, so thanks for the reminder.

Thelma said...

thanks, kevin. appreciate you stopping by!