Thursday, April 30, 2009

Third Time's A Charm? Not in Paris!

So yesterday was my last day at work in the Paris office because Friday is a holiday here in France (like basically every Friday during the month of May... why am I leaving again?) and today I'm taking my last ever RTT - you know, those extra free days off French people get in order to make the 35 hour work week a reality.

And as such, it was of course fitting that we have a few drinks after work. Some work people came by, some soccer girls came by, and some random friends came by. A nice little evening, all in all. And despite eating more than my fair share of croque monsieur, I think I also drank more than my fair share of red wine, so this morning when we decided to make one last attempt at getting me a carte de sejour (French working and residency permit) I can't say that I was incredibly excited about it.

But we went for it anyway. By 7:30 we were up and showering and by 8 we were making sure all the papers were in order and I realized that somehow one of my photos was missing. First stop, rush to Porte Maillot metro station to take more pictures. At or around this time, any slight impression of what could have been considered a hangover disappeared. The sun was out, the air was cool, and I had pictures to take! Raced back to the house, picked up a couple of chocolate croissants, and we were off to the metro.

The metro? Yep. Last night I left my scooter at work because it was raining cats and dogs and I had two laptops and three bottles of wine to bring home. Precious cargo to say the least and, while it made sense last night, this morning I was annoyed to have added an extra level of complication to the morning's activities.

Never mind, off we went to Line 2. I say "we" because this time Frenchy was kind enough to come with me. Partly out of solidarity perhaps, but mostly because this was to be my third attempt and he really wanted to see in person why I'd screwed up the last two times. We arrived by 8:45 and the line was long, but at least today it was sunny and pretty warm. The first time I attempted this, it was February and I had a plane to catch in the afternoon. It was just above freezing and I waited over an hour outside before giving up.

The second time was in late March. I waited outside for about an hour or so (I arrived earlier that time) and was impressed when my number was called within 30 minutes of getting inside. I had all the papers in order. Or so I thought.... turns out that what they told Frenchy wasn't the complete list. Along with all sorts of other documents, I also needed proof we'd been living together for at least six months. I asked if I could bring my rental contract, and the angry administration lady said yes, and I walked out of there, frustrated to the point of tears, to find my scooter covered in white plaster dust which had been blown from a building under construction.

So today we had EVERYTHING in order. And I had Frenchy. What could possibly go wrong? We waited outside for about an hour and a half, and he disappeared for a while to find a wifi connection in order to do some work. The we finally got inside the police station, where once again the numbers moved quickly. Finally it was our turn, so we went up to the desk and I told the woman I was there for the carte de sejour. She started asking for papers and I gleefully handed over each on in succession, feeling confident.

Then she asked for the proof we've lived together for six months, and I gave her the rental contract for the apartment. Which, she said, wasn't sufficient. She asked for our EDF Energy bill, and Frenchy gave it to her. It was from March. Also not sufficient. Because WE NEEDED EVERY SINGLE ENERGY BILL SINCE SIX MONTHS AGO!

I mean, really?

That's around when I almost burst into tears but instead started smiling strangely at her. She didn't smile back. In fact, quite the opposite. When Frenchy asked her very politely for more info so we wouldn't screw up next time, she snapped at him and then even called the next person before we were finished. My strange smile grew and I started to understand those postal workers who went on rampages ... A very good thing I didn't have any sort of weapon handy. Now I see why they make you go through the metal detector on the way in!

So once again, I walked out of the freaking Prefecture de Police in the 17th Arrondissement empty handed and dejected. It was only an hour later that I realized I should have puked on the woman. I mean it worked in Barcelona...


kazi said...

I feel your pain. US process is not much better, I had to literally bring in a suitcase worth of stuff including every utility bill for the past 6 months as well as dozens of pictures to prove to them that I was really in fact married to my (US citizen) wife. Not a fun process, but hang in there!

NoellieBellie said...

OMG Kazi, are you serious? We are going through the process now for Quentin too... we are waiting for proof he wasn't ever arrested in Spain... could take MONTHS to get that kind of paperwork from the Spanish govt! Hahaha. See you soon!

Joe in Rome said...

I spend a lot of time in Italy (especially Sicily) and it is arguably even worse.

The bureucracry and way of doing things can be crazy and very hard to understand as a non Italian. I share your frustations with that experience!!!
Joe in Rome