Some days are meant for Prozac, and this is one of them. After three flights and 14 hours plus one 90-minute train ride, we arrive in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland where we will be whisked away to a police station.
This is true. Before we can rent a place, start work, order hamburgers, make our first attempts at yodeling, we have to get our residency permit from the local municipality, as represented by their police force.
The last time I had to visit a foreign police station, it was off a gritty Madrid alleyway. There, migrants waited for hours before getting inside the station where tense, gun-swinging officers patrolled a small waiting room that was jammed with people from nations where underarm deodorant had not yet been introduced, which was a bad thing because it was over 35 C and we were packed in tight.
As one uniformed officer-or-soldier roughly herded a burqa-wearing woman and her startled kids through the crowd I tried to look like I had mistaken the station for the coffee shop next door. I was prepared to blurt out an order for coffee at the first sign of impending arrest or shooting, but my Spanish was poor, so I could just as easily have said, “Take me to your leader,” or “I have a gun.”
I’ve been under threat of arrest before, although I didn’t really believe it until afterwards when I inquired from a police-friend and Crown prosecutor buddy, both of whom said, “Yup, he could have arrested you for (indecipherable legalese mumbo-jumbo).”
But that was when I was a reporter. So while the officer glared, I laughed brazenly, partly because he had once explained how he used glaring to maintain a “command presence” at a crime/investigation scene, but mostly because I had seen him cower when his 12-year-old daughter walked in on an interview and put him in his place for forgetting to let her know he was working overtime. No cop can recover a “command presence” after that.
But I drift. The point is that just when I am at my worst (14-hours of white-knuckle flight-time plus more than 24-hours without sleep), I am going to try to be at my best so that the friendly Swiss police will lift the gate and let me in to their perfect country.
On one hand, I want it to go well, but on the other hand, if it doesn’t, I will have something interesting to write about – for once.