Love will find a way

    The real-life soap opera continues. As dedicated readers no doubt remember, my warehouse manager, Bertram, was hauled away in handcuffs by immigration agents about a month ago.
    Unbeknownst to his faithful employer (me), Bertram was an illegal alien for the entire six years he had been working at my company. He had hid his secret well, telling only his true love, Frederika, who also worked at my company.
    Her lips sealed by Bertramís kiss, Frederika had told no one. She harbored her illegal immigrant in her arms, patiently waiting for him to pop the magical question so that she could make an honest man out of him.
    Their love was true, no one had any doubt. As they worked together day after day and then went home together night after night, there was no question that one day, sooner or later, they would be betrothed.
    As can be the case, Frederika preferred sooner while Bertram opted for later. And so they temporized (how did that word get in a love story?), doing nothing, waiting for a signal.
    Soon, as can be the case, some tension developed. Unable to make a decision, an exasperated Bertram looked to the skies.
    "Send me an angel to help me make a decision," he cried.
    Alas, as an illegal alien, itís no surprise that English was Bertramís second language. His enunciation was far from perfect. Answering what he thought were Bertramís prayers, the Good Lord sent not angels, but something close: agents. Special agents, to be precise, from the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States Department of Justice.
    Nevertheless, it was a signal. Bertram now had a much clearer choice. Before the agents came, he could choose between marriage or the possible loss of his true love, who was tired of waiting. As he was led away in handcuffs, Bertram now could choose between marriage and the loss of his true love, his home, his job, his friends and the country he thought of as his. Cutting right to the bone, it was marriage or a one-way airplane ticket to Birthland.
    I was proud of Bertram. Chivalrous to the end, he resisted the impulse to propose to Frederika as she watched him being hauled away in handcuffs to the waiting government vehicle. No, romantic stud that he is, he waited until she bailed him out of jail.
    "Guess what?" he announced to me on the phone three days after his arrest. "Frederika and I are getting married next weekend at Lake Tahoe."
     "Congratulations!" I exulted. "Thatís wonderful news. Iím very happy for both of you. Are you planning a honeymoon?"
    "Well, actually Iím hoping to be back at work on Monday or Tuesday Ė as soon as I can get this immigration thing straightened out. We are having a reception on Tuesday night, though, and youíre invited."
    Ahhh, true love. Sharing their excitement and happiness with friends, family and faithful employers. I always hesitate to get too involved with the private lives of employees because of possible problems in the future, but Bertram and Frederika were different. But stillÖ
    "By the way," he added, "can we borrow some money to pay for the party?"
    I would be there.
    Bertram and Frederika were married in a small, private ceremony at Lake Tahoe a couple of weekends ago. Frederika looked radiant when she returned to work the following Monday. Like the agents, she had caught her man.
    As for Bertram, he had flashes of radiance as well. But his brightness dimmed somewhat after his Monday-morning visit to the INS offices. When he came into my office, he looked a little down.
    "Donít get me wrong," he said when I asked him about the glum look. "I love Frederika and I feel good about being married. Iím just a little upset."
    "What did the immigration people say?" I asked.
    Bertram was sweating, but only slightly. "They said I should have gotten married before I got arrested."
    "No slam dunk for an authorization to work?"
    "No slam dunk. I still have to go to a deportation hearing."'
     "I guess the moral of this story is that if youíre an illegal alien and youíre in love with a U.S. citizen, marry her before itís too late."
    Bertram sighed. "I guess so."
    I couldnít resist. "Party still on?"
    Bertram sighed even harder. "I guess so."



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