You just wouldn’t BELIEVE it.
Think of the DMV in your local town, how inefficient it is, how long you have to wait, the terrible architecture, the blase workers. Multiply that by one zillion and you will experience what the DeMuth family experienced today at the Prefecture.
The Prefecture is the place you renew your Visas, called a titre de sejour. The first year, we heard if we dressed like professionals and went in the side entrance, we could sit comfortably before the nine o’clock rush came and saunter down to the line. Apparently, that was a no-no, so the next year, we were kindly ushered out, having to stand in a mob line. Seriously. Squished in between folks, toes stepped on. You get the idea. And then when the doors opened, a crazy, crazy rush of runners sprinted full speed to the line for the visas.
This year, we took our kids, but we arrived late. We didn’t run. We sauntered.
So we stood in one line for an hour and a half. We did this to get a number. Patrick said, “You haven’t seen nothing yet.” And he was right. After two hours, they’d gotten through ten people and we were number 49.
So Patrick took the kids to lunch while I waited. The fluorescent lights sucked the life out of me. An old man next to me coughed spit on my arm. The bathroom, when I was able to get away for a moment, had a fading light that eventually landed me in the dark. Not fun.
We tried to remember every Veggie Tales song known to man and we sang them to the chagrin, I’m sure, of the tired folks around us. (We did sing quietly). Sophie and I tried to recount how many memory verses we could remember. We played twenty questions. Julia brought a deck of cards, bless her heart, so we played war (forever) and speed (not forever) and she tried to show us the same card trick over and over.
So, yeah, FIVE AND A HALF HOURS LATER, we were seen. We gave them our paperwork. They told us we needed to use their special photo booth, though we had passport photos already. She pointed to the back. “It won’t stick,” she said. So we got our photos taken, four euros a piece, noting that the back of their special photos were EXACTLY the same as the ones we brought.
But we were seen. And the visas will be renewed. I think we were one of the last people to get through the terrible line, as the place closed at 2:30.
What is IHF??? It’s code for those days I Hate France. I know I shouldn’t, but even my French friends complain about the bureaucracy here.
I have a headache. The kids are crabby. A whole day wasted. Grrrrr.