An Unjustified Fear

When worrying is worse that the event

Listen to Larry read his story

I like to avoid things that cause discomfort. It could be a visit to the dentist or telling someone a painful thing. Every time I think about the need to do something distasteful, it causes a reaction inside. A little twinge.

The strange thing is that it doesn’t go away. I could put something off for years and it still causes that twinge, a little flip in my stomach whenever I think about the thing I have to do. However, I have found that the anticipation of the event can be a lot more painful than the actual event itself.

That happened to me recently. Living in Peru as a resident, I have had to renew my permission to stay every year. For me, this was a difficult experience. I don’t like to be in crowds, and it was not only crowded but chaotic. To complete the procedures, I had to stand in line at certain places, but it was unclear where these were.

It was also difficult to get any information or help. I was on my own. If I made a mistake, I would be punished by having to go stand in another line. Worse, they might send me away out of the building to get another paper or another stamp.

It was usually hot, crowded, noisy and very confusing. The workers in Immigration also spoke rapidly and did not take into account that Spanish was not my native language. They were overworked, impatient, and frustrated with the conditions. Also, there was a tendency to arbitrarily apply any rule. If a comma was out of place, or a signature was incorrect, they would reject me.

For a while, I was so frustrated by the system, that I employed a person to do my paperwork for an outrageous fee. Hernan had worked with Immigration for 40 years, and he admitted that he still didn’t fully understand the system. But he had some contacts on the inside who helped him out.

All this has changed. The last time I went in, expecting the worst, with months of worried anticipation, I found Immigration functioning in a new, pleasant location, well ordered, courteous and fast. I was out in ten minutes. On leaving, I thought to myself:

“Things do change after all!”

I took a breath, enjoying my freedom from worry, and went to take a celebratory cup of coffee.

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