Saturday, November 22, 2008

Miracle in Rome

Two things. My Italian Permission to stay in the country and my Italian identity card both needed to be renewed.

Italian bureaucracy is traditionally a battle, similar to a medieval knight putting on layers of armor to engage his foe in a contest with sabers and shields. After being fully dressed in heavy, hot steel, he must wait for the kings signal to commence. So as the king and his party eat, talk and drink, the poor knight sits for hours in the sun, nearly asleep, ready to fight at the drop of a hankie.

That picture equates well with twentieth Century bureaucracy in Rome. With that anticipation I went today, in this young new century, to the appropriate office for my identity card renewal; well expecting to be sent to many different places around the city, only to return some other month. Today I would begin the quest.

A large crowd had already formed at the office building when I got there. I asked a fellow if the office opened at nine a.m. He said 8:30. I had two minutes to wait. Good so far.

When the doors opened on time I entered with the crowd. They divided to go their separate ways, I crushed ahead, knowing where I was going having been there, done that. When I entered the large office and got my number I was number three for the identity card line.

A guard sent me upstairs where I paid the cashier five euro for the pleasure to play in the game.

Back downstairs my number was due. Then at the appropriate window the lady, already bored, irritated and unhappy to be there, looked at my materials, then sent me to get copies of four documents I had presented and to get one photo. The copy machine in the corridor was broken and a man was shoving coins into the photo machine as he was unhappy with his photos.

I went back to the lady at the window to see if I could get photo copies elsewhere and come back tomorrow. When she saw me she waved and told me to wait. In a few minutes she called me forward and handed me my old identity card. She flipped it over and stamped and dated it for 2013. The laws had changed. Identity cads were now valid for ten years so she automatically gave me another five years on my old card. Unbelievable. One thing accomplished.

Next I crossed the city to the office for my permission to stay in Italy. I had completed the work last March and hadn’t heard anything from them, so I came to inquire. They told me without an appointment I had to return in two days, after three in the after noon, or go have a coffee and try later. I opted for the coffee and came back.

After five minutes they called me forward, did a little work, gave me my new permission to stay and I was out of there.

At home I noticed my permission to stay expires in three months. So I get to do it again before the ink is dry. The card is valid for a year, but was in their hands for nine months. I get to carry it for a few months before the one year permission expires.

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