Life is what you make it. I recently moved from a quiet town in the country to chase my big city dreams. Nothing ever goes smoothly, nothing is ever what it seems, but everyday I am getting closer. I am yet another slightly less-than-average girl trying to find her way in London, and in life.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Confessions

In August 2013, I was arrested for drink driving. I had always wanted to be arrested, it was on my bucket list, but it wasn't actually that great. Ironically, I got to tick a major to-do off my list, but the next day I had never felt so disgusting. I had never wanted the ground to swallow me up, to die, as much in my life. I went to court, had my license stripped away and generally had a fuck of a time. In December, I moved to London. This may have inspired the move, it may not have done. I don't really know. It's impossible to look back on these things without bias.

At the time, it was the end of the world. I could not imagine ever being ok again. I honestly thought my life was over: I'd lose my job; my parents would hate me; I would forever be branded 'a criminal'. At the time, I worked in the NHS. My biggest fear was telling my boss and losing a job that I loved. I think the turn around moment came when I told her, crying profusely, expecting to be removed from the premises. Instead. she looked at me with acceptance, told me that I wasn't a bad person, and that everything would be okay. If I needed a lift or had problems getting to work, then I could let her know. I will remember that feeling of relief until the day I die. I was always intimidated by her and always terrified of her authority and professionalism, but in that moment she was my favourite person. I will always hold that as the moment I started my life again. Until that point, suicide was always on my mind. I was a coward, I still am a coward, and couldn't handle the judgement that would inevitably come from my indiscretion. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime, people. Safe to say, I will 100% never have a drop of alcohol before driving again. I haven't driven since, and I really do miss it, but now looking back I can see that that incident may have been the best thing to ever happen to me. If it hadn't, I may have done it again and killed someone. I may have killed someone I love. 

The point to this story is that nothing is as bad as it first seems. However, it does still have its repercussions. In my current job, I travel a moderate amount around the world. Mainly Scandinavia but occasionally the US, and in February last year I went to San Francisco. I was so excited. I text my parents and then casually said, "I'll be fine as long as they don't kick me out for drink driving". I said it jokingly. I didn't really think about it. Then, the dread and the panic set in. What if I got to San Francisco, with my (new, unaware) boss in tow, and got told to piss right back off where I came from? I started Google-ing. I didn't get the answer I was looking for. It turns out no one could tell me for certain if I would be allowed to cross the border or removed back to the UK - unemployed, ashamed and suicidal all over again. Drink driving is deemed to be a criminal offence in the States, and official sources would tell you that you need to go to the US Embassy in London and apply for a non-immigrant visa. Given the nature of my work (read: disorganised boss), I was going to San Francisco in 2 weeks. Nowhere near enough time to go the Embassy, shell over a few hundred pounds and get a visa. So, I spent the next 2 weeks reading a variety of stories online, some where people said you would be fine, others where they said you'd be turned away at the gate. I contemplated cancelling. I contemplated coming clean to my new boss. In the end, I got on that plane, travelled for 11 hours, practically shitting myself with nerves. And then, miraculously, I got to the gate, saw the smiling Latino man stamping passports, went forward, and he let me through. No questions asked. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. 

Now, when I returned home, my mum said she found out just before I got on the plane that her friend's son went to Florida on a family holiday, and was immediately rejected entry for his drink driving history. Just one small offence, like mine, that held a 9 month ban. Nothing more. Why did I get in but he didn't? Is it dependant upon which state you travel to? Are these just urban myths going around to scare people into going to the US Embassy and paying over hundreds of pounds? I don't know. I still don't know. I'm in the position that I will again be going to San Francisco in February, and I am again pondering what to do. Do I get a visa? Do I go to the Embassy and spend about £400, perhaps unnecessarily, but just for peace of mind? 

At the end of the day, drinking and driving is so not fucking worth this.


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