1. They hate their jobs and you hate to go there = Sloppy results
The odds that something gets done smoothly go down DRAMATICALLY when all the parties involved just fucking HATE what needs to be done. You can read more about our bureaucratic travails here. Yesterday we could add another chapter to our oddysee and Zuzi was NOT amused (see picture).
2. Sometimes you are just screwed no matter what
So yesterday we went down to the Foreign Police office in Bratislava, which is something akin to treasure hunting, because the office is hidden behind trees and rows and rows of appartment blocks somewhere in a back alley way outside the city center… We went there AN HOUR AND A HALF before closing time. At 5.30 they kicked us out. Their ticketing system broke down TWICE. The order of the queue got screwed up entirely. The police didn’t want to believe us when we told them their system was crashing. Only one of four (or more, I really think some of them were hiding, it’s very hard to spot them) was actually working. My future wife overheard them talking about a television soap.
My Slovak mother said we should have gone their earlier, but someone in front of us had been waiting there since 3 pm. How much earlier should we have gone? Should we camp outside until they open up shop next time? Should our lives revolve around nothing but red tape? I mean, the getting married oddysee isn’t the only bureaucratic oddysee we’ve been tramping back and forth on.
They aren’t open today, so we have to wait till tomorrow to try again. I guess they just needed a rest. Maybe the four who don’t work ore required to give massages to the one who does work on her day off…
3. Make the best of a rotten situation
While waiting we gave our business card to a Dutchman who’s been living here for 15 years, spoke Slovak and works for a consulting agency. I read ‘Sapiens’ while waiting. Zuzi blew off steam from work, while I listened.
4. Unless you’re a lawyer you have no idea of knowing if they’re getting it right
We won’t be able to see their computer screen and they have to change my address or my status to be exact. If my status in the Slovak computer system doesn’t match the information we supplied the social affairs bureau in my wife’s home town, our marriage won’t be valid. We can explain this, we can genuflect, we can can try to bribe them with Slivovica or Belgian chocolate, but we will only know if they really did the correct changes when we go back to my wife’s home town, apply again, and see what the civil servant finds in the system…
5. Be flexible
Sometimes it works to go late, because lots of people may think they need to go early, so you end up the only one there. However, if lots of people reason like that you don’t end up alone there, no matter how late you go.
A different strategy is to try and be the first one there. This may backfire if scores of people have the same idea and you are confronted with a long queue even before the office is officially open…
I’ll try to be their first on Friday.
At least I get a lot of reading done.