Every year for the past few, I have taken part in scoring standardized tests for Illinois schools. This is a temporary (usually only a month long) job, but it helps me save a few extra bucks. I recently got another offer for this April, which I was ecstatic about… until I read the fine print.
This year, the company wants me to resend a document to them, and the problem with this task is that they want it notarized. In America, this would pose no problem, but in Ukraine? Where’s a girl supposed to get a document notarized here and have an American company trust that it is in fact real?
At the American Embassy, that’s where!
For some reason, I had myself fooled into thinking this little expedition into downtown would only take 1.5 hours. I’m not sure where I got that number, but I definitely spent that long just in transit. Getting things done here always takes a long time!
As I neared the street of the American Embassy, I started to hear faint shouting noises. These grew into a much clearer megaphoned voice with other voices cheering from time to time the closer I got. “Oh, please, oh please, oh please don’t be outside the embassy,” I hoped, but of course this little gathering was exactly outside the embassy where I was wanting to go. I have no idea what these people were saying overall, but words in reference to Cuba, America, and Puerto Rico were tossed about. A bunch of flags were on display, some for Puerto Rico, and some signs for Barack Obama. It didn’t seem like it was a negative street display, but hey, I don’t mess around with crowds of people armed with megaphones.
I sneakily snuck my way to the guard booth for the embassy with passport on display only to find out that I wanted citizen services, which would actually be at the American Consulate a few blocks away.
So, my trip took longer because I had to trudge through the Kyiv streets to find the Consulate, and I knew I had arrived when I saw the huge line of Ukrainian people hanging around outside. I wandered up to the door area where I was immediately confronted by a Ukrainian guard asking to see my passport. Luckily, I passed the test and was allowed inside to the bag check/body scan area. This is where things started to get interesting.
The two Ukrainian guards asked me to empty my pockets, turn off my cell phone, and give them my purse. They ran my purse through a scanner and quickly started finding things I had forgotten in my bag.
“Is this a flash drive?” they asked.
Yes, I had forgotten that thing had been thrown into the abyss that is my purse many months ago. I had to scour to find it. They then ran the bag through again and found something else.
“Ok, it looks like you have a little flashlight and some batteries here.”
I ended up taking everything out of my bag looking for it until I realized it was probably in the tiny little zipper pouch on the outside. Yes, there was my mini-flashlight.
“Ok, now what about these little things that look like batteries in the scan?” they asked.
I think my heart stopped. Every curse word I could think of ran through my mind as I realized what those little battery looking objects in my bag were. Really? Did I seriously leave those things in my bag for the past 4 months and not remember?! I even think now that I flew to Ukraine with those in my carry on luggage! S^*#! F@#K!!!!
I swallowed hard and pulled out the battery-looking objects from the small zipper pouch of my bag. And, just what were these objects you might ask? If you refer back to about 4 months ago, I was probably in Vilnius, Lithuania. And, what did I do in Vilnius, Lithuania? Oh yeah, I shot hardcore, badass guns. So, what did I have in my bag? Yes, the bullet shells to these hardcore, badass guns that I kept as a souvenir. Bullet shells… at the American Consulate! Oi!
“No, no, no, you can’t have those here,” one of the guards said as he picked up a phone and started dialing a number. I wondered who he was calling. I tried to sputter out whatever words I could to explain myself as I held these things in my hand. Finally the other guard said the word I was looking for – souvenir.
“Yes, a souvenir!” I managed to speak. “I don’t need them. Please just throw them away.”
The guard proceeded to deny my request and tell me that I had to leave this building and put them somewhere else. Eventually, he said there was a storage locker next door that I could leave my bag at if I wanted to. He went outside to get a lady to help me, but I’m pretty sure he was telling people what I had brought with me since they sporadically shot me shocked looks. After a few more minutes of awkwardness, I managed to lock up my bag and go back into the booth where I’m sure the guard gave me a few extra courtesy scans this time for good measure. Fortunately, this time I was let inside.
In the end, I was successful in getting my document notarized and sent away to America. It was yet another simple task made long and interesting here in Ukraine. I still can’t believe I did that, and I definitely laughed to myself the entire way home because I did.