Turning the Tables

My mother has given me a wonderful example how to turn the tables on some powerful bureaucrat.

This happened sometimes in 1983. I have left Romania in 1980 and did not plan to go back as long as Ceausescu was in power. I missed my parents and they missed me. Finally, my mother decided to apply for a passport and come visit me in United States.

Getting a passport in Communist Romania was not easy. For any application for passport, the initial response was NO. However, my mother insisted, and she had a chance, being an elderly woman. As part of the process, she had to be interviewed by an officer of Securitate (Romanian Communist secret service) who would try to persuade her to give up, or at least guess her intentions. What about if she decided to stay in US, or return as a CIA spy?

So my mother came to the Securitate building and was invited in an office to talk with the officer. This was supposed to be an intimidating experience. Secret police officers were powerful, and people were afraid of them. The following dialog ensued.

OfficerMadam, what do you want?
MotherI need a passport to travel to United States and see my son.
MotherBecause he is my son and I have not seen him and my grandchildren for a long time. I really miss them.  
OfficerFor how much time you did not see them?
MotherFor about three years.
OfficerThat is no reason to go. Three years is not a lot.  
MotherI believe it is. Maybe you do not know what a mother feels.
OfficerLook, my mother lives in Moldova and I have not seen her for ten years. So what? Nobody is dying.  
MotherYou did not see your mother for ten years? SHAME ON YOU! This is the woman who gave you birth and fed you and raised you. How can you abandon her? SHAME ON YOU!  
OfficerAll right. Here is your paper signed by me. You will get your passport.

You find out that people in high positions are humans after all. Do not be afraid!

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