Peter M Howard ::

wintermute.com.au

Once more unto the brink

11July2005 [france]
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Just returned from another French bureaucracy nightmare. My Carte de Sejour needs renewing so I can legally stay in the country; I had an appointment at the sous-prefecture for 1530; arrived on time and the ticket machine tells me there are 39 people in front of me! After the painful experiences earlier this year, I figured I had to wait it out… One particularly annoying pair were holding one window up; only two of the other three were manned, one of which was only sporadic. All three would get up and walk around for a while whenever they wanted to stretch their legs. At 1605, with the queue getting no shorter they closed and locked the doors, ten minutes early. I finally reached a window at 1645, only to discover that their network goes offline at the advertised closing time of 1615, so they were unable to process anything!

Fortunately, this time round I had a rather helpful man, who actually said sorry (!), and made me an appointment for two days hence. I suspected all along that they could make emergency appointments at short notice, but they never wanted to do that earlier in the year, probably because it amounts to admitting fault. Apparently we’re supposed to announce upon entry that we have an appointment (a mistake everybody else in the room also made as it’s not mentioned anywhere); though I doubt anyone that hears such an announcement would care… Wednesday I will be arriving early, and pushing myself in if there’s another queue.

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