There are most certainly some things I am going to miss about this country (if) when we leave. There are the usual things like some really dank Arabic food, the ability to have anything delivered if I desire (even Burger King), and this morning, I discovered another: the option to pay a designated amount of money for the pleasure of being treated like royalty.
Kaden and I are almost through with the process to get our residence visas here. The only thing left was my medical exam. Ok, those who know me know I would rather die (almost literally… ask Marcia about a certain blood infection I ignored…) than get stuck with a needle. I definitely could never be a junky. Anyway, as part of the screening they do, blood work is required to check for AIDS. I had literally been dreading this aspect of the visa since we got here and Stu had to have it done. The other thing they do is a chest scan to make sure you don’t have TB.
Anyway, so we get there at 8 in the morning thinking it will be smooth-sailing (people here don’t wake up till noon); no biggie, right?) Wrong! There were hundreds of men waiting downstairs for their screening. I was picked out of the crowd by one of the administrators and told that women go upstairs. I was thinking, “Yay! There won’t be any women waiting and I can get right through.” Wrong, again. The same situation as upstairs, so I get in line (ahem, “Queue”) to get a number and then the guy at the desk does a double take (I imagine at the English I’d used and the blonde ponytail) and then says, “Oh… you want to go fast line?” Heck yes I want to “go fast line”, how do I do that? He sends me over to another counter where the lady says it will be 100 Dirham to get in and out in less than ten minutes. I don’t even have to look at the faces of my fellow waiters to know that they have been there FAR longer than ten minutes so I eagerly agree and fork over my 100 Dirham (in addition to the 250 for the exam).
Best 30 bucks I’ve ever spent! One of the guards comes over, grabs me by the arm and shuffles me past the hundreds of waiting women to the front where I am checked in, eye scanned, photographed, and then, tripping trying to keep up with my arm, hauled back to have the blood work done.
She quite literally sits me down in the seat (and we’re talking a “security guard” who was a slight Filipino who was MAYBE 90 pounds soaking wet). I barely have time to tell the Indian doctor that “I don’t do well with needles” before I realize I’m already done and guard-lady is dragging me along to the next station while we leave dozens more waiters to wait in our wake. She grabs a gown as she is almost-running with me to a closet (with no lights) where she says, “Bra, shirt, off. Diss on. Come back to me.” I do as she says; stripping in the dark while she taps her fingernails on the door impatiently.
I am then handed off to the chest-screen-lady and bid farewell by my guard who hands me a 3 x 5 card to bring back with me tomorrow to get my results. The chest screen took exactly 6 seconds and then I had to figure out which was the front of my shirt as I fumbled to get dressed again in my dark closet.
After figuring out there was a “fast” route, we were out of there in less than ten minutes. I feel bad for all of the people who are probably still waiting, hours later, who cannot afford the 100 Dirham to get the heck out. I already have a three-inch bruise from the draw though, which made me scowl and mumble something about how my Mom could have done it way better.
But, in a couple more days we’ll finally have our visas officially and never have to go to Oman again.