Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Facing l'etat de France...

The Kitchen Plumbing Smell has not gone away.  Even with repeated applications of our Upstairs Neighbor's Enzyme Gunk, things remain smelly "down there".

There was no time to Trouble Shoot any further as we are off to la prefecture de police for an appointment and, oh, what's this?, the skies have opened up with lightening and thunder. It's raining so hard that we have soil from one of our window boxes splashed on our glass doors four feet away.  It's so impressive that I make an audio recording of the proceedings.  I sincerely hope these are not Further Omens of Things to Come.

Leaving the apartment early so as to not be late, the rain has let up and our umbrella isn't needed.  A quick metro ride takes us to la prefecture de police.  Just as we make our way from the security entrance into the main building where our Date With Destiny was about to be held, the skies open up again.  Complete with more flashing lightening and huge thunder.

It's almost 11h00 and Jude goes upstairs to see if that's where we need to be while I wait in a line in one of the Niveau 0 rooms.  Jude returns and says it does not look like we are to be upstairs.  Just about then I am motioned to the counter and find that our Date With Destiny is in the room across the hall.

For twenty minutes we stand in line.  There is a Stern Conversation taking place.  A Group of Three in front of us have none, absolutely none, of the things la republique de france requires.  One pushy person in the group is clearly trying to Game the System.  The Welcome Desk Lady is not happy, not happy at all, and we are next in line for a potential Tongue Lashing.  In Finest Rapid Fire Parisianne French, of course.

Shaking as I hand over our documents destined for our new dossiers, Jude explains that we are nervous.  The Welcome Desk Lady gives us a Petite Smile.

We find out there are two documents they are concerned about.  1) Lack of "official" letter from our French bank (even though I included the account information).  2) Lack of "details" page from our health insurance that talks about coverage for prescriptions and hospitals and things like that.  I say our agreement with the insurance company was more like a book than a single sheet of paper.  She say it is needed to be translated into French.  All of it.  Ugh.

After having our documents sorted into two dossiers, we are asked to have a seat and our number would be called.  Jude passes the time talking with a writer who is here for their visa renewal as well.  Politics.  French.  America.  NSA.  Freedom.  Topics of the day.

We learn that it could be a very long wait and the folks behind the desk can be rather nasty.  Well duh!  We'd just witnessed what the System Gamers went through and now we are facing our own Firing Squad of Doubt and Uncertainty.

We wait.  3.5 hours.  Seriously.  Everyone who works there has gone to a Proper French Lunch.  For two Proper French Lunch Hours.  Except for one person, who repeatedly tells the waiting folk to just stay there and have a seat.  The Parisian Gods and Goddesses are sorely testing us.

Or are they really?  The Welcome Desk Lady had photocopied an entire stack of papers saying that we have two dossiers and therefore needed copies for both.  I had only made one copy of the originals based on our experience at the San Fransisco Consulate.  The Welcome Desk Lady could just as easily have pointed us to the copiers sitting outside the entry to the room we were stuffed into.  Small Acts of Kindness go a long ways.  But it is difficult to notice since our documents seemed to not be in Complete French Order.  This, even though there was absolutely no guidance in the documentation we'd been sent as part of our Convocation.  Something about Bureaucratic Arbitrariness comes to mind.

We are finally called to a little cube just after 14h45 when everyone seems to have returned from le dejuner.  We wonder what the hell is about to happen.  After our Document Questioning at the Welcome Desk, we are about to face the Further Horrors of French Bureaucracy and things were not looking "up".

Handing over the documents asked for, passports first when the questioning begins.  Do we have the detail page from our health insurance?  No.  It's a big book.  Do you want it all?  Seeing our future in French fading over the horizon.  Yes, she says.  Our Funcitionnaire continues to organize our documents.  Soon, she gets up and leaves.  Oh.  Now what?

Upon her return, she says "Just be sure to bring the insurance detail page with you next year when you come back."

OMG!  Really?  The Winds of Fortune might have changed.  To be sure, I ask "l'an prochain?"  "Oui", she says.  Now 'er cook'n with gaz!

A conversation about why we are here and what we are enjoying about living in France and Paris ensues.  Jude swears Our Functionnaire has just complemented us on our French speaking abilities, though I'm not so sure.  Our Functionaire mentions how people can be kind and but also are many times exasperating.  Smiles all around and more conversation about what it's like to live here and wonderment that we would leave the States and "come to this".

Surprisingly, our French bank account pages are pulled out and handed back to us.  She says they were not needed.  Huh.  Well.  Would you get a look at that, will ya?  It's one of the only things our Convocation documents seems to be clear on.

The printer is printing and our formal documents are being prepared for review, careful inspection, and signature.

In the blink of an eye, we're in!  Living Large in France!  Like a Cheap Suit!  Damn!! 

Our plasticized cartes de sejour will be ready in mid-August.  We even have a convocation that gives us the date, office hours, and location of where we will retrieve our Increased Level of Official-ness to Live Here.  Until then, we have new documents we hold in our hot little hands allow us to leave and return to France from outside the Schengen Zone without harm nor delay, and possibly even with a hearty "Bienvenu a France!"

Maybe the Parisian Gods and Goddesses were just testing Our Resolve?  Or perhaps they are really there to protect us from The System?

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