So here we are.
I know that America’s birthday isn’t until next week, but I have an early present to give to my country: the assurance that I won’t ever commit treason, and if I did happen to commit treason by accident (say, if I knocked over something at the Smithsonian), I promise not to flee overseas.
I can make this bold statement because I’m pretty confident that I would have no way to navigate the complex waters of international political asylum. At all.
I wouldn’t even know who to call. After hours of just staring at the phone with my finger hovering over the keypad, talking myself out of just dialing numbers at random, and talking myself out of calling Information (could I please get the number of someone in a country that could grant me asylum? thanks, I’ll hold…), I would give up and stay home, eat whatever ice cream was left in the freezer and wait for the authorities to come a’knocking. That’s how bad I would be at being an expatriate traitor.
And even if I did know who to call, I’d feel really awkward about it.
Maybe this is just me, but whenever I’m in a situation where I’m asking a friend if I can crash with him/her for a few days while I’m in town, I feel a little uncomfortable, but it’s usually okay because this person is a friend, someone with whom I have broken bread, someone with whom I have shared laughter and conversation. Also, being a friend I am aware not to overstay my welcome, and also that dinners are my treat. But I still get very self-conscious when I make a request to invade anyone’s home and life for any length of time.
So imagine, then, calling a total stranger in a foreign country and asking if it’s okay to crash there. Yeah, um, hello, is this Russia? Okay, great, hi… you don’t know me, but I think you know America, right? Right, the America with the United States. That’s the one. Well, I’m from there and now I really can’t be there anymore because I did something that could be seen as not-entirely-legal, so, I was just wondering if you could take me in for, oh, I don’t know, a few decades? Would that be okay?
And even if I could pass that stage, what happens after the plane lands? I don’t know how that part works. How did Edward Snowden get the cars to be there waiting for him when he landed in Moscow? Whenever I land in New York City - my sweet home, mind you -- even if I’m not on the run from the law, I still have to call the car company after I pick up my bags and then wait for the text confirmation, and half the time you’re waiting forever, or the car they send you is really old and smelly, or the driver goes to the wrong doorway and yells at you for not being in the right place. It's a crazy mess. They never drive up to the tarmac. I bet if you asked, they’d laugh at you.
Is there a special International Asylum Car Company? Can you find them on Google? Do you have to already have an account with them beforehand? You probably do. So if you’re fleeing without a lot of lead time, well, you could be fouled up by something as simple as the lack of a ride.
These are the things you have to seriously think about before you commit treason. You really have to have your ducks in a row beforehand, and you have to know the right people. Don’t get me wrong, I know some very entertaining people. But they are only the right people if you need a bunch of performers to raise money at a Monday night benefit, or if you have a puppet that you want brought to life. None of their character shoes have phones in them. None of these people puppeteer regimes.
So, happy early birthday, America. You can rest easy, knowing that the only asylum I will probably ever seek refuge in is of the rubber-room-n’-straitjacket variety. I bet that's much easier to Google. (And hey, you’ll be the first to know when I do Google it!)
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.