As my passport saga draws to a close (I picked up today the new 10-year passport, replete with 48 extra pages to last me through 2017), I thought I would comment one more time on the US Embassy experience. This time, notwithstanding high expectations in terms of efficiency that were entirely met, I turn my attention to the population that waited with me in the large hall. This Monday morning, it was a busy day. By 9:15am, all 100 seats in the waiting area were filled and there were about 100 more people milling around, looking at the small electronic board announcing whose number was next (accompanied by a recorded voice). The lack of an announcement board in the lower section of the hall, where there were another 30+ empty seats, meant that everyone preferred to stay in the large room, even if it meant standing. A few observations. First, the composition of those waiting. Bearing in mind the people are nominally either French people seeking to go to the US or US citizens, it was quite interesting to see that between 60%-70% of the crowd was a visible minority, specifically Black, Latino and Asian. Secondly, I was very agreeably surprised by the repetitive courtesy that the various “people behind the window” showed to the visa seekers. There was visibly an effort to smile and be receptive to each candidate. This was a far different experience from our visits to the US consulate in Montreal over the last few years. I wonder who is responsible for managing this “disposition” and whether it is left up to the personnel in each Embassy or whether this is a general “order” to all Embassies. Of course, I don’t think that the satisfaction level is miraculously high, but it was still nice to see. The third comment was how the line was drawn down with great speed. At 9 o’clock, there were just 4 “official” windows open. By 9:15, there were 6 and by 9:30, there were 11 windows cranking through the crowd, whose sides kept swelling. Contrary to a prior post, I came to the conclusion that there is still a thriving demand to visit the US. And the comment of the guard at the outside security gate confirmed it, “Monsieur, c’est comme ça tous les jours.” I am now the happy owner of a fully valid passport. Bad news is that each time I enter the US, for my sins of having lost my passport, I will have to go through the song and dance of proving it is my authentic passport.

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