Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In Los Angeles

I’m in Los Angeles to give a three-hour briefing to my client’s lawyers in their 55th-floor ærie downtown.

This is my second stay in downtown L.A. in a month, and I’ll admit I rather like the mix of old and new skyscrapers. I’m staying in the Checkers Hotel (pictured), which is now operated under the Hilton label. It’s listed as a “four-diamond boutique hotel”, which bodes well for a luxury stay, but it’s under $200 a night, and the room is nice but not spectacular. It doesn’t seem a lot different than the Hilton I regularly stay at in unglamourous Burnaby, British Columbia.

As always, work-outs suffer. Yesterday I didn’t get a chance to get out at all before I headed to YYZ. Part of the problem was that I set aside an hour or so to get my TN visa renewed at the U.S. Bureau of Customs & Border Protection’s office at the airport. I guess I should’ve read the Wikipedia article I link to; for the first time in almost ten years, my routine, well documented petition (sic) was the subject of a somewhat aggressive interrogation. It wasn’t that the officer was probing my petition that bothered me—that’s happened before—it was that he was needlessly aggressive, cut me off as I tried to answered and told me what I was trying to tell me, and accused me of trying to pull a fast one on him. It was all rather sad and irritating because, for strong personal and professional reasons, I want to keep my U.S. entry status totally clean. My petition is almost three pages long, full of detail, and I seem to have gotten into trouble by giving him so much information he took a hook and told me I didn’t understand my own business.

It was clear, however, that he’d painted himself into a corner: if his interpretation was correct, I qualified for a visa-free entry! He decided to grant the visa because his colleagues had already granted me one for the same work; but to do so with “notes on my file”. He reminded me of the incompetent cops you can see on Cops or sometimes run into, who jump to conclusions, are aggressive whatever the situation, and assume everyone has a secret agenda. (Let me hasten to add that I’ve often enough run into cops—and CBP officers!—who do listen, don’t jump to conclusions, and do their duty in a helpful manner.)

So now I’m in my hotel room, my daily review done. I have two conference calls, my client is coming over to preview the presentation, and of course I have my big briefing this afternoon. Will I get to work out? Let’s hope so!


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