Special, But Not Special Registrant

(continued ...)

Pulling a gold medallion out of his shirt, Bramlett asked, "What does this say?" There was a Chinese character on the necklace, and I squinted to read it.

"It says 'love'."
"Good, and why do you think I wear it?"
I glanced at him and noticed a ring on his finger.
"Love for your wife? Your kids?" I decided to skip the "grandkids" part -- you never want to over-assume someone's age, particularly when they control your entry into a country where your car is.
"Right. My wife." I detected a smile.

Clearly, I had all the necessary documents and things in place. The worst was over, moods were picking up, and conversation flowed better. He rattled a few nearly-undecipherable Chinese sayings, and relayed the story of how he got the 18k pendant in Shanghai for $100USD. And of how his wife is Chinese. And of how the US government rents a huge house for him in Richmond, completely with a gardener, who normally comes on Wednesdays, but for some reason didn't this Wednesday.

And about how his wife is the only Asian resident on the US Virgin Island where he really lives, and that she's almost an object of awe there, like a local celebrity.

strikes fear into the hearts of mortal (foreign)menIn all this dialogue, Bramlett stated, "Well, I deem that you are no threat to the security of this country, and will authorize your entry into the United States." Then he stamped my I-94 with various things.


"Hmmm, that's not right. You're not a 'special registrant'."
"What's a special registrant?"
"Usually Middle Eastern people."
"No, that I'm not." I didn't know what else to say. Certainly, it wouldn't have been smart to go, "Duh, look at me, moron!"

My flight was coming up, and I was kind of hoping to get on it. He re-wrote my I-94 completely, taking his sweet time, and fumbled around looking for the stamp. After looking through the ink-stained drawer, he produced the right one; the one I had been staring at all that time.


I paid him the $50USD, chatted a little longer while he figured it out. He never questioned my previous TN lapse, and finally let me go. By the end of our conversation, he invited me to look him up if ever I were to visit the Virgin Islands.

As I threw my luggage on the moving belts outside, I whipped my phone out and gave his voicemail the short version.

"Hey, Kev. I'm in. Later."

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