Dear Mr. Frank S. Monster, Ph.D.—
We received your official appeal for a reinstated passport (although you could not supply your old passport so I struggle to see how a form for a “reinstated” passport was the right form to send in) as well as all of your supplemental documents. We read your letter in which you relayed to us how you have been handed down a rather severe ban on all your travels. I regret to inform you that the Department of Transportation in conjunction with the Police Force and—might I add—European Union International Security has decided to deny your appeal to lift the ban on your travels. My duties do not require that I write this letter to you. Our protocol is to send an acceptance or rejection as it were. Yet—and this is quite personal (not at all on behalf of the already stated departments)—I felt that it was such an extraordinary case that I am not sure protocol applies anymore. I will make the letter brief.
Far too many concerns were raised in the examination of your documents. The main of which, as well as the sole concern worth a mention because it raises enough red flags to reject your appeal outright, is that your record shows you were seen in France, where we assume you filled out your appeal. Yet, you claim you are from Germany. We have searched and searched and we find no record anywhere in our system of how you traveled from one place to the other. We had to conclude that you either lied about your home country in your appeal—which, I should warn you, is a felony—or you took illegal means of travel from one country to the other. Either way, you can see how you put us in a situation where we had no choice but to reject your freedom of travel.
Let me tell you in extreme brevity (because I have lots of important work to do and we at the Department of Transportation do not have the time to respond to each appeal with a personalized letter like this) the abundant number of issues that we found with your appeal. For example, you did not provide a valid birth certificate with your mother and father’s birth town included. Now, it would be one matter if you just happened to send in a photocopy of your real birth certificate. This phenomenon is a frequent issue despite our multiple notices on our website (all of which are underlined and capitalized; one or two of them are even bolded). Not that this would have been accepted, but you see what I mean by how that would at least be an understandable mistake. But I see that you failed to send us any paper related to the matter. That did startle us!
Your birth certificate was not the only item absent from your appeal. To name just a few more—in order to help you better understand why you are banned from national or international travel (although I should get back to my main duties at work)—you could not provide proper documents to ensure us that you are in fact a Ph.D. in Fiction Literature as you claimed. I read your attached essay on the nature of Satan’s solitude in Paradise Lost. (Let me step a little out of my official character here and say that I have never encountered such a sophisticated approach to Milton’s magnum opus. I myself was a renaissance enthusiast throughout my university years. It seems you have rekindled my love for the old passion. I dug in my records to find my senior thesis, which disputed T.S. Eliot’s critique of Hamlet. He said the play falters from the lack of an objective correlative, and I disputed the validity of his observation. I would welcome the opportunity to talk more about Milton over a cup of coffee if you are free in the near future.) Unfortunately, your essay (though it was the best I have ever read) does not hold up as proof of your academic achievements. We need a professor’s confirmation, a photocopy of your degree, or a picture of you at graduation.
While on the topic of a picture—that is another item we did not receive. Now understand Mr. Monster, I assume the picture was somehow lost in the delivery of the envelope to us because I cannot imagine it was your intention to leave out such an important bit of documentation. It seems absurd to have to say this truism but you cannot travel if we do not have a picture of you on file. How can we issue you a passport if we do not have a photo to put on it? You have me in a fit; but I will rest. This letter has gone on long enough. I must get back to my main duties.
I will conclude with this: Given the state of the international community we feel it best to restrict the number of travelers to those who have dire needs and those who have spotless records of travel. I am sure a sensible man such as yourself can sympathize with our caution. We try to do our best to keep the world a safe place.
I will stress again that protocol demands we do not send a letter out to applicants or appeals. The government likes to keep a strict “No Special Treatment” way about business. So do not expect me to clear all mysteries or touch on every subject. I do not have the time to respond with a personal letter. I have much to do.
I know you had mentioned in your personal letter to our office that your temporary arrest was on false claims, and the officer had no other reason for his decision to detain you that night other than your personal appearance. Am I correct in my recollection of these details?
First, the officer discovered you in France in some late hour (I want to say 2 a.m.?)
Second, he saw you and he raised his firearm and prepared to shoot. (This seems outside the realm of proper conduct. In his defense, his report of the incident reads: “I became afraid for my life in the presence of this gigantic man who is best described as uncouth and distorted in his proportions” and he later adds “His hair was long and riotous.” I suppose we cannot blame you for your height and asymmetrical-nature. Genealogy has cursed us all—I have a sixth toe on my left foot—but you did not do yourself any favors when you chose to grow your hair out to the point of a “riotous” appearance. You can send a shock to a man in the late hours of the night with such an appearance. Now does that justify his potential use of a weapon? I am not the right person to decide that. I suppose if you wanted to file an appeal for an official mishandle then you could find the appropriate form and do so. (Although we did happen to update our system and I cannot remember whether we accept the OM-17a or OM-17b version.))
Third, it was (as you specify in your account) your eloquence of speech that convinced the man to rethink his aggressive approach.
Fourth, he asked for your documents. At which you responded you did not have any. (I might add here that your honesty did not help your cause. I have known officers to let individuals go who say they happened to leave their papers at home. We are not some authoritarian government regime. We can let some issues slide.)
Fifth, he told you that he wanted to bring you into the local headquarters for interrogation. At this point you asked him in a polite tone (you said) the reason for which he wanted to do so. Now I must tell you that at this point in the officer’s narrative he claims you displayed an aggressive presence. This does warrant an officer to take you in for interrogation. I imagine he wanted a few of his colleagues to give a second opinion on the situation.
I do very much so understand the frustration of a perceived misdetainment (Is that the proper term? I do not think I would outlive the embarrassment a grammar error sent to a man with his Ph.D.). You did help your case quite a bit when you complied with his order after he refused to tell you the reason for your detainment. That was a test and you passed! Your behavior made such a good impression on the officer that in his report he wrote that he considered your release right then and there—although of course he had to follow protocol. If he does not follow the rules then what structure do any of us have? Do not be dismayed. At least he considered your release. He must have liked you. You see? Do you feel better now? You should be happy that you made such a good impression on the officer. The incident has a silver-lining after all.
I hope I have cleared this matter for you. In my personal judgment, I see no wrong or harm in your actions. You are no terrorist. You seem an unfortunate man who found himself in a sequence of bad luck. In my official judgment, I cannot grant you the right to travel again. I would go into greater detail and explain all the nuances of why this is the case but I do not have the time and I must return to my duties.
I apologize for the brevity. I wish I could say more but I have lots to do—
Mr. John Williams
EU Department of Transportation
+44 9780 811216
P.S. Please do not respond to this letter. It is improper to respond to an official notice such as this. You may file another appeal if you have any unanswered questions