Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One and a half hours

That's how long it took me to get what I needed at the police prefecture today. I kind of can't believe it. (Don't get too excited, I still have at least one more step before I get my residency card.)

I got there at 8:50, ten minutes before opening time. I estimated the existing line to be about fifty people deep. That was good news because, based on my previous experience, I knew they would allow about sixty people into the waiting room. I figured I'd be inside before ten. Indeed, I was--I got in around 9:20 and got ticket number 54 (nice estimating, if I do say so myself). Around 10am, number 33 was called and the young man sitting next to me, who had number 33, wanted to exchange tickets with me--he was waiting for someone, apparently. I accepted his offer after showing him how high my number was. He didn't care so I jumped up, earphones dragging.

That was the good thing. The bad thing was when I got to the counter and showed my birth certificate, the woman told me it needed to be translated. I think that was a piece of misinformation because the woman I saw last time (the time of the five hour wait) didn't mention anything about that. The birth certificate information is self-evident and a translation seems like overkill. I fussed in broken French, she grew annoyed and asked for my housing information. I handed it over three items: a current electric bill (in original!), a letter written by my landlord verifying that I live at that address, and a copy of my landlord's id. The lady told me to sit down again and wait.

I'd been sent to a sort of pre-screening counter first. I have no idea why. In another 20 minutes or less, my number was called again. The second lady did not demand a translation of my birth certificate. She took it, my passport and the housing documents and entered a lot of information into her computer. Then she asked if I could come for another appointment on September 4th and which time would I like? I chose the earliest time available: 10:45. Guess I better not make any travel plans for September 4th!

The lady typed more things into the computer. I waited. Eventually, she handed me three pieces of paper. One was a blank application form, to be handed in at the next appointment. The second was the notice of the appointment with the time, date and address--in a completely different part of town! Last, was a four-page list of all the things one might need to bring, with the items that I specifically need to bring check off. Since everything is supposed to be in French, it may be here that I'm supposed to bring my translated birth certificate.

Does that mean I also have to bring translated copies of my bank statements and health insurance certificate too? Geez louise--it would cost a fortune! And for what? I'll only have 3-4 more months in this country by then. Well, I guess I have a month and a half to figure it out! If anyone knows a cheap translation service, let me know!

When I left the building, it wasn't even 10:30am yet. Even more amazing, there was no line. It was about the same time I'd arrived on my last visit…I think mid-month may be the time to go.

I had just enough time on my Velib ticket (I had a week pass) to bike home, so I did. I delayed packing for my London trip until just a few minutes ago. I still should make some decisions and eliminate a few extra items from the suitcase, but I can't seem to focus on it. I don't know why I'm hating packing so much these days.

I'm also 50-50 on bringing the computer. It is nice to have and I probably won't post without it but I could really live without the extra weight. This journey involves a certain amount of tramping about and every pound counts. I have to leave the house around 5:30am (yikes--what was I thinking?) and carrying a heavy bag at that hour is very unappealing. Well, I guess I can wait until the last minute to decide. You can live without me for a few days, right? I should hope so!

Grateful for: a (relatively) short wait.

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