It’s come to my attention that I committed a serious transgression of cultural protocol while waiting to be processed at the immigration bureau. Because of the large streams of people merging from several different flights, I got separated from my wife and daughter, who found themselves two or three groups ahead of me in the cue. There were no ropes, just a mass of people who organized themselves into lines in the middle of the room, and which merged as they got closer to the immigration officers’ booths.
Once my wife and daughter got up to the immigration officer, I went up to meet them as they had only their passports, while I had the rest of their documentation. When I greeted the immigration officer I explained that I had all of the documentation for my wife and daughter, and he gave me no indication that I did anything wrong at that point. According to third-hand information whose accuracy I do not doubt, this is termed “jumping the cue”, was cited as a reason for the officer being suspicious of me, and I am profoundly sorry for this. While this alone probably did not cause our rejection, I’m certain that it did not help. Perhaps I should have waited for him to signal me to come forward, or have them move back in the cue to join me.
In Hawai‘i this act is common. Family members join other family members in line at airports, theaters, restaurants and other venues, and does not result in any complaints. I myself frequently allow senior citizen or mothers struggling with young children ahead of me in the market. It is one aspect of “aloha”, a term known by many but completely understood by few. In the old days, if a passenger was late to arrive for a flight and may miss it, the other local passengers generally allowed them to jump to the front of the line so that they did not miss their flight. The only passengers that would ever complain were visitors who were not familiar this practice. Since 9/11 things have gotten much stricter, and I’ve noticed that TSA officials do not allow anyone to “jump the cue” in the security line. As more and more people move to Hawai‘i from the US mainland and Asia, this courtesy may soon be as extinct as many of our native animal and plant species.
I have witnessed several instances of attempted cue jumping here in our short time in New York. The very first was at the US Customs booths at JFK, and the offender, seemingly unaware of his behavior, was berated by an African-American woman with a strong opinion regarding the offender’s lineage. Just two hours ago it happened again at Queen’s Center Mall, specifically at the New York and Company store. We were second in line waiting for teller. At one point an employee waived to someone five or six people back in our line, and that individual moved toward her at the cashier. The customer in front of us was furious, and berated the employee. It turns out the person at the back of the line was an also employee, and could only be helped by the one that called him. That did not satisfy the woman in front of us.
I’m wondering how much my language, body language and other mannerisms may have affected our encounter with the immigration official in Dublin. As I explained earlier, our trip had begun 36 hours prior to our encounter in Dublin, during which I had about two hours sleep. Perhaps there was something in my body language, mannerisms or voice that made the gentleman suspicious. I was completely honest with him, and perhaps I seemed to be trying to hard to be sincere. I really don’t know.
What I do know is that we were not allowed to speak to this individual’s supervisor, who we were informed endorsed his decision. My daughter later told us that she asked him if there was anyone else we could possibly talk to, and he replied he had already talked with him. We were never allowed to fully present our case or explain the details of our plans, or present all of our documents. Folks at UCC and other friends have apparently talked to others in the gardai who have repeated the information given to them by the officer we encountered. They know no side of the story but his. Perhaps they feel no need to. I assume that he is a well-respected, experienced immigration official who has the confidence of his superiors. I’m hoping that there is an open-minded individual in the immigration office who could read all of these posts, hear the sincerity of my thoughts, understand the goodness of our hearts, and help our family return and reside in Ireland soon.