Monday, March 09, 2009

My Morning at the Questura

I was summoned today the questura (police station) to have my finger prints taken so I can get a new "permesso di soggiorno" (Italian green card). Lo Stato Italiano is getting modern and efficient so I was summoned via an SMS.

Now this is all very embarrassing, because I need a new permesso because I lost the old one. I applied for a new one less than 2 years ago.

I tried to do the fingerprints earlier and was told to come back on the date I was summoned.

Now the really funny part. Thursday I was convinced it was the 9th of March and I went there. They said they don't do fingerprints on Thursday. I assume none of my readers have had the experience of being sure on the 5th that the date is the 9th.

So anyway today I go on the right day. I wait a long time. I notice many nice things about the questura. First there is the same office for Permessi di Soggiorno and Italian passports so actual Italian citizens have to wait in line along with us foreigners. Second they are very non racist with a photo of a police woman hugging to black children and a photo of Toto (famous Italian comedian who starred in hundreds of films) being arrested by a black police officer.

So I'm about to get my fingerprints taken with a new cool computerized machine (like the one they use for foreigners entering the USA even tourists). They ask me to wait for a young women who is actually picking up her actual permesso.

But her prints don't match. She says "That's my mother's permesso." Oooops. Now the automatic response we Italian public sector workers have for such situations is something along the line of "I can't do anything for you. You will have to come back later." The optimal response is to stand there and look sad. Needless to say the woman's permesso was filed alphabetically next to her mothers. She left the office with a shiny new permesso di soggiorno. The new ones are smart cards not pieces of paper with a photograph stapled on (I wish I were kidding).

So my big moment. The person helping me typed my name correctly (ending with double n. Robert Waldman has had the right to live in Italy). Then her face falls. She says "you're married to an Italian." Well yes I am. Following instructions on the wall I noted that fact to a colleague of hers about an hour earlier.

Oh no, I have to go to another office.

Now my cell phone definitely specifically told me to go to that office.

Now I run into an Italian public sector computer system. With Italian civil servants everything is against some rule. However, if you stand there and look sad, they bend the rules.

This approach does not work with computers.

So I thanked the police person and left the questura.

I discovered oddly, that I was ecstatically happy. I mean it was a nice sunny day and this time, it wasn't my fault. Everyone had been very kind and polite.

So why was I so happy ? Well I have long given up on finding an actual human being as incompetent as I am, but, at least, I have found an organization as incompetent as I am.

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