You know, sorry and all, but better out than in.
On the part of the Esta form which reads “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?” Kenyon ticked yes instead of no.
He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel was refused. “I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone,” said the 62-year-old.
The baby was taken from his home in Poynton, Cheshire, to the embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, to be questioned by officials. The round trip took about 10 hours, longer than the nine-and-a-half-hour flight time from Manchester to Orlando.
“Baby Harvey was good as gold for the interview and never cried once. I thought about taking him along in an orange jumpsuit, but thought better of it,” said Kenyon. “They didn’t appear to have a sense of humour over it at all and couldn’t see the funny side.
“He’s obviously never engaged in genocide, or espionage, but he has sabotaged quite a few nappies in his time, though I didn’t tell them that at the US embassy.”
It’s not the lack of a sense of humour. That can, sadly, happen to people of any cultural grouping. Rather, the thing which drives me up the wall about Americans–of a certain type possibly–is their rock hard belief that the rules of the bureaucracy are actually important.
To be possibly hyperbolic about it, the British deal always was that we’d have very few rules but those we did have were both really important and also ones that pretty much everyone agreed with. No murdering people for example–yes, obviously, murderers don’t quite agree with that but pretty much everyone does. The French/Russian whatever deal was that there will be masses and masses of rules but no one is going to take them seriously. Even those supposedly enforcing them are going to be reasonable about it–or in the Russian version slipped a few roubles to shut up and go away.
The Germans had and have lots of rules and they’re important. Socially at least. Move into a block of flats and you’re highly likely to find a schedule for when it’s your turn to sweep he driveway. And it would be a terrible social faux pas, and possibly even illegal, if you didn’t do it. And properly too.
And that’s what pisses me off about America. They’ve that German attitude towards the rules. It must be important other wise why would there be such a rule? And sod being reasonable – or bribeable – we’re going to do everything by that book of rules. Up to and including interviewing a three month old baby about his terrorist activities.
Perhaps the problem is that the US is still too young a culture. They didn’t get ruled by the Hapsburgs for 400 years and thus don’t have the beneficial contempt for bureaucrats which makes for a happy life.