Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bureaucracy, Italian Style, Part 2

Going to the post office to submit an application for a long-term (i.e over 90 day) stay in Italy was only part one of a three-part bureaucratic drama. I have just returned from playing my meager part in Act 2.  In luxurious form -- Mercedes, driver, and chaperone (to ease the way with the bureaucrats) -- I went out to the kind of place every city has (some more, some less) -- the zone of ugly buildings, warehouses, government back offices, ringed with fences and dirt-lot parking.  It is where Breaking Bad takes place.  My job was to show up with the papers I was given at the post office and be fingerprinted for my permesso di soggiorno.  

Sorry to disappoint:  other than having to go out to this ugly place -- someone called it Guantanamo before I left on this excursion -- the experience was virtually painless.  I may have had the quickest trip there of anyone.  If I had been able to crack even one smile out of the ten government officials I encountered, it would have been a delightful afternoon.  Despite the illicit feel to the neighborhood, and the grungy office, and the waiting room that was no better than any other -- blue plastic chairs, a screen announcing whose ticket has come up, smell of hours wasting away -- all went easily and quickly.

Nevertheless, here are two small details of bureaucratic interest.  First, upon entering I put my backpack through the scanner. Three soldiers got all excited because it appeared I had metal in there.  I had left my pocket knife at home, but I certainly had some metal objects in there.  I was told to empty the bag.  Out comes the phone charger and tin can of mints.  No, that was not the problem.  Headphones.  Nope. Small metal spoon.  Yes!  Everyone relaxed.  I go to pick up the spoon.  Finger wag.  "You must leave it here.  Pick it up after your appointment."  So, I left my teaspoon and, yes, I retrieved it later, feeling all the safer knowing that the building had been clear of dangerous tableware.

And then there was the fact that I had to have all my fingers fingerprinted.  Fair enough.  All done, I went back to a different office....only to have the fingers fingerprinted again.  The funny thing is that both times I was fingerprinted on a digital scanner, which might suggest that the finger prints would be accessible on the office's server.  Alas, no.

Part 3 comes in a few weeks, when I go to retrieve my actual permesso from the Trastevere police station.   Stay tuned....

No comments:

Post a Comment