9:30 am on Wednesday, September 7th at the foreign police office in Banská Bystrica, the police officer is rolling her eyes in disbelief and sighs with a sense of compassion.
Foreign Police Officer (FPO): So close. It’s too bad it didn’t come sooner.
Todd: It’ll be here tomorrow, I’ve got it set up for official translation tomorrow night and we can have it in your office first thing on Friday.
FPO: Good, then we’ll issue your permit to stay in Slovakia and you can reenter the Schengen area.
Todd: There’s no way you can extend my stay by just a few days? See here’s a copy of my FBI ID record. It’s on its way. It’s just two days longer.
FPO: No, I’m afraid not. You’ve been here for 90 days. Today is your 90th day and so you must leave today. You must be out of the Schengen countries by midnight.
Todd: (head in hands). OK (sigh). Thanks very much for your help.
11:15 pm the same day at Schengen’s Slovenia/Croatia border crossing. The border guard is furrowing his eyebrows in a confused expression while he searches through my passport.
Border Guard (BG): Where do you live?
Todd: (not sure what exactly he wants to know) I live in Slovakia.
BG: (obviously not pleased with this answer, leafs through the passport again) Where is your residence?
Todd: (understanding that he wants to know where I reside officially) In the United States.
BG: Yes, you have no visa. (one question cleared up but he is still confused, still leafing through the passport, probably looking at border crossing stamps from 2002-2005) When did you arrive in Europe?
Todd: June 10th.
BG: (stops looking at the passport and looks directly at me for the first time) June 10th!
Todd: Yes. That’s right.
BG: (finds the June 10 stamp. Not sure what to ask, he turns to look at his computer, his eyebrows are still furrowed but now his jaw drops also) What are you doing?
Todd: (not sure what to answer) ummm…
BG: Where are you going?
Todd: (not sure why he is asking this question) To Croatia.
BG: What are you doing?
Todd: I’ve been in Slovakia for 90 days and I still don’t have a visa so I’m leaving the Schengen area. I will get a visa and then I will return to Slovakia.
BG: (still confused) You will go to the embassy or something? How do you think you will get this visa?
Todd: No, I have turned in all my paperwork to the foreign police in Slovakia but I am waiting for one document. It will be delivered to my wife tomorrow, she will take it to the foreign police on Friday and then they will issue me permission to stay in Slovakia. My wife will send me a copy of this permission and I will return to Slovakia.
BG: (still confused) This is the 90th day. You have… (looks to his computer)
Todd: 45 minutes.
BG: (simultaneously, but with surprise) 45 minutes!
Todd: Yes. That’s right.
BG: (pauses, then shakes his head and stamps the passport) Here you go… (looks at me again, shaking his head) Good luck.