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A SIMPLE REQUEST
9 June 2006
It seemed like such a simple request when it came in e-mail more than a year ago, but our poor former exchange student has fallen victim to crippling emotional roadblocks (mine), incredible lack of support (other people's) and now stupid red tape.
Jose was here as an exchange student and graduated from Davis high in the 1980s. He now lives in Central Europe with his wife and he teaches English in the local high school. In order to make his job permanent, he needs a transcript from the high school here.
In contemplating how I have handled this request, I am forced to admit that I am not the person I once was. There was a time when I would have had this transcript in his hands within a week. Instead, the project has dragged on for more than a year. There is something preventing me from taking care of it, and I don't know what it is. It's the same thing that prevents me from finishing (or starting) the psychiatrist's work in a timely fashion, or doing most other things in a timely fashion. The sensation that wells up inside of me when I try to think about getting it done literally paralyzes me. It's not that I don't like this guy. He was one of our "special ones," so why has this become such a horrendously difficult task to do?
Well, for one thing because there are several steps which make it complicated. First I procrastinated and procrastinated and procrastinated but eventually called the high school and found out that they would not issue the transcript to me, but that it would have to be ordered by Jose himself and couldn't he come by and do it? I explained several times that he was not in this country. Finally, they agreed to issue the transcript if he would call them and agreed to let me act on his behalf. He did and I still didn't get around to doing anything about it for a long time.
I finally ordered the transcript from the high school (which is 2 blocks away). The next step was to take it to the Secretary of State's office in Sacramento to have an apostile attached, and then I was supposed to send it to the embassy for his country in Los Angeles, which would (Jose told me) translate it, attach their own apostile, and then return it to me so I could send it to him. But I didn't get around to going to the Secretary of State's office for so long that I ultimately lost the original transcript, which pushed us back to square one again and Jose had to call the high school once again to give me permission to order his transcript for him, and once again, I delayed actually ordering the thing.
When more and more anguished emails came from Jose reminding me that it was his life I was holding in his hands and should he just ask someone else to do it for him (I'm not sure who he'd get), I finally ordered another transcript. Again, after it came I was paralyzed with imobility and just didn't want to go to Sacramento to complete the next step. I would literally sit here, holding my head in my hands, my stomach one gigantic ball of butterflies and scream at myself for not just doing it, but I couldn't bring myself to get into the car and drive to Sacramento for this particular project, though it's not like I'm afraid to drive into Sacramento.
I finally called the embassy in L.A. to find out if I really needed the apostile from the Secretary of State or if I could just send them the transcript directly. That's when I discovered that they won't translate it after all. They will give me a list of people who I can pay to do it for me. Another step added (another fee to pay--Jose is going to pay all of this, so it's not like it's any out of pocket expense I don't want to pay). The person I spoke with at the embassy seemed extremely angry that I would even ask him to help get this one page document translated.
I even called the Secretary of State's office to see if I could mail the transcript to them, and that's when I learned that before they would deal with it, it had to be notarized here in town.
That meant I had to actually leave the house and go downtown (horrors!) and go to a notary office. After several weeks (and a few more e-mails from Jose), I actually did it. But there I learned that the notary couldn't notarize the transcript just because I said it was legitimate. At first they insisted that they wouldn't notarize it unless Jose came to Davis and showed his identification to prove that it was his transcript. They were adamant that Jose needed to stand in front of them, even though I explained that he had no money for a 5 minute trip from Central Europe to Davis. They finally agreed that they would notarize it if they were in the presence of the woman at the high school who had signed the thing.
My local Assemblywoman's office found a notary who would do it if the high school counselor could go to her office, and I knew that there was a notary who would travel the 1/2 mile to the high school for only $20 more. But the woman at the high school was out of the office for a couple of weeks and I had to wait to speak with her.
I finally called her today. She can't leave campus, not even for 10 minutes, not even on her lunch hour, to help me, but she would let a notary (for an additional $20) come to campus for 5 minutes, even though at first she said that this is her busiest week and she didn't even have 5 minutes to give me from now until June 30, and that she would be gone after June 30.
Oh yeah--and because I opened the envelope that the transcript was in (there was nothing to indicate that I should not), they will now have to issue another transcript (for a fee) because I might have tampered with it. The damn thing is printed off of microfiche and all but illegible and it has the school's stamp imprinted on it, so I don't really know how I could possibly have tampered with it. But for another fee, they will issue a new, acceptable, one.
I now have a tentative date of Monday at 10 a.m. to meet with the notary and the high school representative to get the damn thing notarized and then, since I'll be out of the house anyway, I will drive it in to the Secretary of State's office. They have said they will mail it for me to the Embassy and Lord only knows what will happen when it is out of my hands and in the office of a Central European embassy which has already indicated that they have zero desire in helping me with this project.
Jose may have to buy a cart and start life over again as a street vendor.
I feel so incredibly guilty about all of this. I know how important this is to him and I simply can't understand why I can't bring myself to do even the simple steps necessary to help him keep his job and what this incredible paralysis is that comes over me when I contemplate doing it.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Yes, of course I'll help you...