Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: Bureaucracy

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Well, the water came back - after four days - both Granny's kids rang her on Mother's Day, and this weekend Zapatero's electorate voted with all its might and he got back in. The red PSOE boxes standing everywhere now have stickers posted on them saying 'thankyou' - and the local mayor here - only would-be senator - can get back to his job of being mayor; whatever that means.

Meantime, Granny and Beloved do what they should have done a long time ago; they have registered themselves officially with the Spanish police; meaning they can get cheap travel and all sorts of useful things. Some of them - like cheaper water and electricity - they had already, Beloved being proud possessor of a residence card: he lost the card a long time ago, but who was to know that. Hearing the hassle involved in acquiring such a card, Granny herself had decided to pass on this one; not least the hassle would have had to be repeated five years on. And she could get her cheap travel with her residence document from the local town hall, so that was alright.

However Spain is in Europe now - and yes, she knows that it has been for a long time now, but, you know, this is Spain, the bureaucracy takes some time to catch up. It has caught up. Last time Granny attempted to get cheap within-Spain travel, her local document was not enough. Time to register - a much less complicated procedure than getting the residence card, she was told, and anyway, if you too are a European citizen this document is a whole lot simpler. But - this is Spain, darlings - not that simple.

She and Beloved headed for the police station down in the main town last week, clutching their passports, local registration documents. All they succeeded in collecting at this point were several forms supplied by a nice young man. To register, they were told, you had to get a 'cita', an appointment, something you could only do between four and six in the afternoon. Oh and all their documents had to be photocopied; several time. This was eleven in the morning and the main town is half-an-hour's drive away. Clutching their forms G and P decided to call this one a day and went home.

Yesterday, clutching their now filled-in forms, their photocopies, they drove back down to the police station. And oh yes, they got their 'cita' - but was it for that day? No, it was not. This morning at 9.15 they went back again - through the rush hour - and after a wait inside, clutching their documents, were called to the table of the same nice young man who told them that all was well - except that they had to pay for their documentation at the cashier's. Was the cashier in the police station? You guessed right: it was at a bank, ten minutes walk away. Oh and the bank didn't accept cash payments for the documents after 10am. It was now 10 minutes to 10. Granny and Beloved drove there - hoping to find a parking space; which they did - and after another wait behind other customers with complicated transactions, got their documents paid for and authenticated at around 1 minute to 10. Loud gasps.

Back to the police station; back - after, you guessed it, another wait - to nice young man, who handed back their documents, asked them to submit them to nice lady with computer on desk opposite: nice lady after a little while, summoned Granny over and said she'd written down the names of her parents wrong on one of her documents; on nice lady's computer (Granny was on it, because she has had for a long time, her NIE number - the financial identification number without which you cannot so much as open a bank account here) Granny's parents were called 'Robert and Carol. Granny's parents definitely not Robert or Carol, Granny can only assume that these names were supplied in an imaginative moment by the other nice young man who had acquired the NIE number for her. She remedied the situation - not without a brief panic she was going now to have to supply her parents' birth certificates - you can be asked to do this in some circumstances; nice lady smiled, fortunately, and saw that all was good. Five minutes later Granny and Beloved were marching out of the building clutching their 'papeles verdes' and with a sense of relief almost as big as if they'd emerged from some police cell to the rear.

After five years in this place, she is now official; far more official, than she's ever felt in England; she doesn't possess any such document there. And now, flourishing her papel verde, she can travel to Spain on cut-price fares. Whoopee.

All she wishes now is that the bloody wind would stop blowing, bringing cold - very cold - air, a plague of flies and a lot of dust. The only comfort is that, except for the flies, things sound even worse back home in England.

Oh and news just in, via Beloved; her car's packed up. WHOOPEE AGAIN.

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