The trip up to Vancouver went well enough. The Days Inn was a good choice - just a few blocks from the US Consulate and right downtown. As�I arrived there were police all over the place redirecting traffic. I decided to go for a walk and find things ahead of my appointment and crossed a street that had eight parked cars (center of the road), lights on, all with New York plates. That was odd. A couple of blocks further and there were crowds standing around (on sidewalks, in the street) so I wandered over to take a look. Before I figured out what was going on, a guy on megaphone squwaked 'you can vocalize on this one...ready?' and moments later people were running all over the place, evidently portraying panic; the end of the world was being rehearsed. I stuck around for another take and then decided to get some food. Apparently the film was the Fantastic Four, we'll have to see whether my acting talents meet the bar.
The appointment was a whole different story. I checked out at�6am and decided to get some coffee before my 9am appointment. Nearing the Consulate there was already a queue forming. A quick trip to Starbucks and I took up a spot in line and started the wait. The line moved�a little as the guards came out and explained 'no cell phones or electronics, it's in the letter' and 'you must have $100 in cash, it's in the letter' and a handful of other explicit rules that people had misunderstood. At nine, we had the privilege of handing over the $100 cover charge and the line moved inside to surrender passports. An elevator ride up to the 20th floor and more waiting. Another couple of hours spent watching folks being denied�visas�or being told to come back the following week to try again and there was a definite tension in the room.�My interview was fine - fingerprints,�a few quick questions - and I was given a receipt and asked to return at 3pm. Quick lunch at Steamworks where I'd dined with an old high school friend years before and a stroll around town. My suspicions about the 3pm time were well founded. I returned just after two to find a quick already a block long so quickly took up my spot. This process was much faster and I was on my way to the border by 5pm. A slight delay at Peace Arch to get a new departure record and I was back in Blaine, WA with an immense�feeling of relief.
So, $x000 employer sponsorship and lawyer fees, $100 hotel, $50 expenses, $50 gas, $15 passport photos, $100 appointment fee, $6 border crossing fee and the net: nothing changes. Except, of course,�that I can work in the US until 2007 and that's good.