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John Pettitt holding the “Ryder Cup” 1985

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American Diary 2002

I arrived at Lambert St. Louis International Airport, on time, after a very comfortable flight.

Immigration proved to be a nightmare, as they pulled me over for secondary examination. There were lots of very awkward questions as to why I was here as a Truck Driver, even though I was in possession of a valid H2b visa. The ‘First Point’ saga began to rear its ugly head, but eventually I was allowed to proceed. Customs was another nightmare, because I had to put my entire luggage onto another conveyor belt, which was going to Carousel 3 – this was about six hundred yards from where I was being held by Security for a search. My main concern was whether I would be able to get there in time before my laptop and cameras were spinning round baggage control for everyone else to see and possibly remove them. It was a very traumatic time for me, but I arrived at the Carousel – puffed out, just as they appeared. I rented a car from Enterprise and drove to Sikeston MO. – booked into the Ramada Inn and had a good night’s sleep.

Tuesday morning I reported to Pullen Bros and immediately made my way to the “Social Security” to get my Social Security Number. This was not going to be issued straight away and I was told to come back on Wednesday.

Just across the road was the Doctors Surgery and as I had to wait until 1500 hrs for my appointment, I returned to Pullen Bros and spent the morning going through all the necessary forms, which have to be filled in. I have never signed my autograph so many times in one day.

I went round to the Surgery for the Medical examination at the appointed time, and after completing the usual form with all the nasty questions, I then decided to come clean and tell the doctor about my previous heart attack. This did not seem to faze him at all, in fact after asking what medication I was taking, he said that I was probably a lesser risk than someone who smoked, did not exercise, had high blood pressure or was obese. I also had to give a urine sample, which was sent to St. Louis for Drug Screening.

On Wednesday morning I tried to get my Social Security Number, but was told to try again tomorrow. This is typical of Government Departments the whole world over. The day was not wasted though, as I spent the afternoon over at Al’s Reefer Services being given instruction on how all the fridges worked. I learned nothing new, as I have operated fridge trailers for many years. I was later deducted $60 for this little bit of instruction.

Thursday morning I went back to the SS Dept, and finally, received my Social Security Number. Now armed with my Number I was able to go to the driving Test Centre in Charleston where I sat the Theory exam for both a car and a Commercial Vehicle. One paper for the car and three papers for the CDL, which covered “General Knowledge”, “Air Brakes”, and “Combination vehicles”. Managed to pass all of the theory paper’s first time, which was satisfying. Went back to Sikeston and collected my car driving licence and my CDL permit ready to take the practical tests.

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