Tuesday, November 08, 2005

next time, gadget...next time

I don't work on Mondays (and I work only 3 hours the other four days of the week! WOOOOOO!) so I decided that yesterday was The Day to get my residency card and social security number. Collectively, it's called the carte de sejour -- staying card, basically.

As you may know, the French have a reputation for terrible bureaucracy and nit-picky red tape. Part of the reason I waited so long to get my card was because I wanted to be entirely certain that I had all of the necessary paperwork. I took the early train to Lons-le-Saunier in order to get to the Prefecteur 15 minutes before they opened. To my surprise, there was already a line of 5 people waiting, but I wasn't worried. You see, they office that does the cartes is open from 9 - 11:30. If you've been waiting all morning and your number isn't called, then too bad. Try again tomorrow.

I was happy when we went inside to see that only two people before me were there for their cartes, so I knew that I'd get through quickly. Hah, I thought, everyone told me that you have to wait forever -- I'll be out of here in an hour! Sure enough, 40 minutes after the office opened, my number was called.

It's not difficult to gather all of the necessary paperwork, but the trick is knowing what you need. Everyone will tell you something different, so I brought it all. As I laid out all of my documents -- passport, contract with the school district, contract with the school, my lease, a translated birth certificate, a negative-TB reading from the office of immigrations, and four ID photos -- the woman was visibly impressed that I was so prepared. She said, "Ok, this is everything you need," and started filling out my card! I've got you France, I thought, I'm in charge now.

The final step was to photocopy everything for my file, to be kept at the mayor's office in Poligny. I patiently waited, knitting a sock, feeling sorry for all the other people who had the bad sense to arrive an hour after the office opened. The woman came back, after copying every page in my passport. "When did you arrive in France?" "On the 22nd of September." "Well, your passport wasn't stamped at customs. Do you have your airline ticket?"

So that's it. I didn't get my carte de sejour because MY PASSPORT WASN'T STAMPED WHEN I WENT THROUGH CUSTOMS. Now I have to find proof that I ever came to France, give it to the mayor's office, have them send it to the Prefecteur, then wait for the Prefecteur to send them my card, then have the card given to me. Unfortunately, in a fit of cleaning right before my holiday, I threw out the airline ticket. I do have my emailed confirmation from United Airlines and Bernard has already asked the headmaster of the school to write an official letter vouching for my date of arrival. This whole experience will probably really improve my level of French, considering I'll be stopping in the Mayor's office several times a week to remind them to actually send everything and then give it back to me.

I was SO CLOSE. I can't believe these assholes.

2 Comments:

At 5:28 AM, Anonymous jim said...

i made this picture for you. blogger won't let me post images directly into the comments page, but you can see it HERE.

a pretty close match, i'd say.

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger kelly said...

Woah, buds. I look mad anime. And right after this, my frown started to tremble as I went "Grrrr..." and mushroom-like clouds of frustration sprung from my head.

 

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