My route home from Doha was a trial, literally a trial. It turns out the paperwork that was supposed to have been done back in January in regards to the settlement I had to agree to or be stuck in Doha for two years fighting fraudulent charges on my credit card from 2006. I picked the path of least resistance and paid the fee, went through the court system (which was all in a language I can neither speak or read) and was told all was taken care of back in January. Flash forward to March 1st at 5:00 AM Doha time and I’m at the airport trying to get through passport control and them telling me I was black listed because I had a court case against me… You can imagine the anger I felt. I was ready to puke, punch someone, and torch the country all in the same second. Of course I abstained from doing all of the above and instead I went to the source. I missed my flight to DC and instead went to the bank where the court case started. They swore up and down it wasn’t their fault, I found out later that it was, but I will leave that for the moment.
My journey on March first took me from the airport to the bank to the police station to the court (which was all in Arabic) I originally visited to cancel the court case against me, something the bank should have done and didn’t, back to customs and then back to the airport.
The moment at the airport when I went to passport control and the lady, dressed in the traditional garb, sitting behind the counter said to me “You can’t leave” was one of those moments that you don’t want to have. Not to say that being in Doha was bad, but I was just done with the country and I needed to leave. I was done, dusted and packed. Ready to leave and get home! But that wasn’t to be, Doha had other plans for me and I wasn’t very happy with them.
I was shunted to the side, told to follow a man in a thawb; he took my paperwork and had me follow him to a small office. After a brief conversation with some other official type person I was told I was “blacklisted” and I couldn’t travel. I was sick to my stomach, wanting to punch a wall or someone, but how could I get angry and these people, they were just doing their job. It’s not their fault; it’s never someone else’s fault is it?
Given no choice and no information I had no option but to go to immigration, I asked what the issue was and they said that I had a court case against me from the bank in question. It was supposed to be done in January, but it appeared someone didn’t check a box or call the right person or whatever happens when a government official doesn’t do their job as their supposed to. I was the victim of someone not doing what they’re supposed to do, but again who am I to blame? I don’t speak their language and I’m just a visitor in their country.
I went to the arrivals terminal next, had to pick up my bags, thankfully they didn’t get on the plane without me, and head back to the apartment I had been staying in, something I didn’t’ want to do, but had no choice.
During my time at the arrivals terminal, about two hours, I had a cup of coffee and stared researching what had happened, thank god for free Internet. I ended up calling all the people I could think of that could help me, not a long list given the nature of the issue I was facing. One of the people I ended up calling was the banker that had helped broker the settlement I had to pay for credit card charges that were not mine, but again what am I supposed to do? After calling him at home (waking him up) and asking him what the hell happened, he gave me the advice that I needed to go back to his office and get a copy of the letter saying that I was free of all charges from his bank, which I did. After my time running to the bank and trying to figure out who fucked up, I found a great deal of peace, I don’t know where it came from but I managed to find peace in all the angst I felt. I was able to center myself and go through all the issues of the day with less anger than I feel I should have had.
After the bank and then going to the police station to check my record I discovered that the court case I had thought was complete and done, was not in fact. Someone had not checked the box indicating that I was supposed to be able to travel again. Years ago if this had happened to me I would have put my fist through someone’s face / wall / torn someone a new asshole. I managed to find myself delving deeper into a peaceful calm, no matter what happened to me in the fucked up place I was in, I was determined to not get angry. I was prepared for the worst, as I always am, but in this case it was not the worst I was thinking about.
I managed to make it back to the court I had originally gone to get my court case canceled and had to go through the trials (no pun intended) of trying to navigate a place where I don’t’ speak or read the language and try to get something as simple as canceling a court case done. I got all my files in order and it turned out someone in January didn’t check the box stating that they needed to cancel my travel ban. That mistake cost me an extra 50 QAR in fees to get people to type my forms in Arabic and some fun times following my court file around the building. I didn’t let that file out of my sight; I felt that if I kept it in sight it would get taken care of.
Now keep in mind it’s still the same day I was supposed to travel and it’s now getting towards the end of the day for government and I’m looking to get the fuck outta dodge on the same day.
I ended up sitting in front of a Qatari judge and he looked at me, looked at my paperwork and then back to me and said “You come back Monday”… Given that the day I was sitting in front of him was a Thursday and I was less than thrilled about staying an extra day, I was less than thrilled with his response. I asked him nicely how long would this take really and I had a ticket for this afternoon so I couldn’t come back on Monday as I needed to travel today. He was a nice enough guy to recognize that I was ready to leave and wasn’t ready to wait any more. He managed to stamp my paperwork and get it ready for the guys who had to tick the box saying I could travel.
After all the fucked up things I had to do to get the hell out of the sandbox, it took only a few hours of running around to get myself on a plane. Granted it cost me an extra 3500 QAR to get the first flight out of Qatar, something I was willing to pay to get the f’ing hell out of the sandbox. I was done, dusted, ready to leave and ready to get back to the cold and shitty weather that is Seattle in the late winter.
When it was all said in done, someone forgetting to check a simple box on the form (I know it was a simple check box because I have copies of the forms, not that I can read them, but I can tell they are the same forms with the only difference a simple box being checked) cost me 1000 USD. I’m still keeping my cool, not getting angry about the whole situation, but I’m planning on getting even….