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With my actors set, I decided it was time to go down to the immigration office and get my visa extended so it wouldn't run out in a few weeks and I could stick around and edit the film using the film centrum in Malmo as my friend Steve had promised. It seemed like a logical thing to do considering I had just recently found steady work and had what I felt was enough money in my bank account to represent justifiable means to stay. So I packed up my passport, my bank statements, a letter from my workplace stating they were ready to hire me and a book to read in the waiting room and headed across the river to the Department of Immigration.
     I made it through the first checkpoint with flying colors, having all the required materials and a bountiful supply of patience and gratitude. I had actually been this far before, which is why I came so prepared this time, but when I opened up the door to climb the stairs to where the real madness would begin, I was completely emotionally unsuspecting.
     The waiting room was stark. A couple of chairs lined the walls with two tables in the middle. A family consisting of a man, his wife and her mother, all looking as if they were of Middle Eastern descent sat at one table, the man playing with a large and complicated toy made of wires and beads put there for any youngsters waiting to have their residencies approved. It was clear the time they'd been waiting was weighing heavily on them. Nobody but the young woman broke their concentration to peak up to look at me as I entered the room.
     There were large windows on one wall but all the blinds were closed and the buzzing lights overhead turned on. A young lady, also of middle-eastern descent sat in front of the windows. I took my place on the opposite wall and opened my book, "Destructive Emotions and How We Can Control Them".
     An hour and a half later, an attractive young woman came out into the waiting room and approached the family in the middle table. She spoke all in Danish so I wasn't exactly sure what she said but I could tell the family was very pleased with the ruling. They did not hesitate to show their emotion, standing and hugging and raising their fists in the air while the young Danish representative tried to suppress her repulsion, hustling back into her inner sanctum.
     Moments later, another woman came out and approached me, inviting me back into her office. She sat down behind her desk and I made myself comfortable in the chair opposite her. She took all my materials and looked over them quickly, asking a question or two here and there like how long I'd been in Denmark and where I was staying and when I intended to leave. She seemed satisfied with all my answers and gathering all my materials, she escorted me back out into the waiting room and instructed me to wait there while an official reviewed my file.
     At this point, I was still very confident. It was a simple case of putting that stamp of approval on the glowing display of cultural chameleonism that was my file of immigration materials. However it was in the waiting room where I began to feel slightly uneasy about my chances due to my being a party to one of the more gruesome displays of a lack of diplomacy I'd ever experienced.
     The young lady by the window was greeted by an official not long after I'd made myself comfortable with my book. The conversation was in English so I couldn't help but overhear the verbal onslaught unleashed by the official on the young lady for working illegally in Denmark. I hadn't heard that kind of a reprimand since grade school when teachers expressed their extreme disappointment in the lack of maturity and intelligence displayed by a particularly bad student by telling them they expected something far more responsible from them. My heart went out to the young lady, who appeared, by what I could pick up of the details of her case, to be a victim of circumstance, caught between what was right by the Danish government and what her employers were telling her was right. From what I could tell, she was some kind of nanny for a Danish family who had been telling her to relax about her working visa situation until they could find time to take care of it. She apparently took matters into her own hands and now was crushed at the decision this official was relaying to her in full view of the rest of the world here in this waiting room. The young lady was told to quit her job immediately or risk being arrested and thrown in jail. The young lady broke down and began sobbing as the official quickly packed up her things and removed herself as far away from the situation as she could get.
     It was around then that my official came to retrieve me from the waiting room. I tried to read something in her face but no luck. She carried the same bored and emotionally removed expression she'd had when she invited me in the first time. We sat down once more in her office and I listened to her say, "We've made a decision . . . and it's not very positive." For some reason, this made me laugh. She did not like the laughter. "What's so funny?" she asked. This made me laugh even harder. Apparently grade school teachers and Danish Immigration officials are trained in the same place.
     "All I'm trying to do is stay in Denmark," I explained. "It's pretty simple."
     "Not simple," she said. "You've been working here illegally."
     So what she'd found apparently was that the people who had promised to hire me in their letter had already hired me and I'd been working there for around two weeks. When I explained to her that I wasn't being paid for that work, she told me it didn't matter. I was working without a permit. When I tried to get into a discussion about the existential constitution of work involving no pay, she handed me back my passport, already stamped, and explained that I was to be out of the country by midnight.
     Continuing to plead my case futilely, I told her not to think of that job as work. It was more of a project. She countered saying that projects weren't allowed on tourist visas.
     Stunned, I stammered, "So you're telling me that all I can do with a tourist visa is come to Denmark and . . . . and . . . . and go to museums?"
     "Yes," she said. "That's all."
     I didn't have the heart to tell her that you'd have to go to every museum twenty times to justify the three months on a tourist visa in Denmark.
     She went on to explain that I could launch a formal complaint against the ruling at the Danish Department of Integration across town. I tried to glean some idea of what that would do for me but she had no information for me.
     The last thing she had me do was sign a document stating that she translated the letter the official ruling on my case had written. After I'd signed it, she handed me the letter and sent me on my way.
     On my way across town, I tried to phone everybody I could think of. I couldn't get a hold of Teo but I was able to SMS my actress, Mette who didn't believe me at first and then was angry at me for getting caught. She wanted to meet me but there was just no time. It was already 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I had nine hours to get back to my apartment, pack all my things including my cat and be on a train out of Denmark and I hadn't even figured out where I was going. My next call was to my friend Skittles in Dresden to see if I could come down and stay with her. She wasn't home.


 
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