vendredi 11 juillet 2008
Yesterday I received the yellow paper in the mail, from the Prefecture. My carte de sejour was finally ready to be picked up (only nine months late).
I could have gone alone to pick it up, but we needed to get the file for next year together (the french spouse needs to present themselves once a year with the foreigner to "prove" they are still together). Also, we needed to change our address on the carte grise- it was still listed as his parent's house.
On Friday morning I went and bought the OMI stamps, which I guess stands for Office des Migrations Internationales. This is the way that you pay for your carte de sejour- they don't take checks or cash, you have buy these postage-like stamps. Finding a place that sells them can be tricky though. The second Tabac that I went to sold them, so I bought the 70€ stamps.
I then arrived at the Prefecture a little after 8:40, and went upstairs to the waiting room in hell. There was only one guichet open that gives out the finished carte de sejour, #10. There were already about 30 people in line, and it wrapped around the room. I took out my book and began to read. Alain went to the vehicle registration place, and took a ticket #60, and they were on #20, so it would be awhile for him too. About an hour later, I was about halfway to the front of the line. There were old people, pregnant women, women with babies, the whole spectrum of people who really shouldn't be standing 2+ hours in line.
Finally, another hour later, I was 6 people away from the front. Alain came back and told me that he had gotten the carte grise, so now he was going to go stand in line #3 on the main level, the one where we get the file for next year.
Ten minutes later, I was three people from the front when one man told the employe handing out the cards (who was working incredibly slowly) "Hey, can't you hurry up, there are elderly people and women with babies out here". Well, this apparently was unsupportable for the employe that he should be told to Work Faster, so he pulled down the curtain and left for 30 minutes to teach us a lesson. Lesson: you people are c*** and I am going to treat you like c*** and you will like it because you will beg me to come back and to continue slowly handing out the cards which are yours by right anyway because you have already been waiting in line two hours.
He finally came back and I finally got my card, which I will have for a whole 3 months before it expires and I have to come back for another récipisée de carte de sejour. Oh yeah, and 70€ for this privledge, 5 days of work taken off, and about 20 hours total of waiting.
So I went downstairs to join Alain in the next line. And we waited for another 2 hours. Finally, it was our turn. We got to the front, started filling out the papers (that no, we aren't living in polygamy, and that yes, we are still together) when there was a commotion behind us. A man told Alain "Tell the woman to call the firemen, there is a woman giving birth here!" Now, I don't know about you, but to me, "giving birth" means "On the floor with the head about to come out". The woman helping us (who, by the way, was the one who yelled at me last time for not having the "correct" photos when in fact I did), ran off to call the firemen. Actually, the woman was not quite as far gone as that, she had just started having contractions. They told her to go sit down, but she said no, she wanted what she came for, to change her address on her carte de sejour. Heck, I think I would feel the exact same way- "I came here 8.5 months pregnant because you damn people won't let me do it by mail, I waited in line 3 hours in the heat, and I sure as heck am not going to go give birth before I get my address changed."
They quick gave her her forms, and she left.
Note to self: If I am ever visibly pregnant and need to go to the Prefecture, just start saying "Ah Ah! I am having contractions! Give me my damn card or I will bite your head off!" and go straight to the front of the line.
Though, in all fairness, I don't think she was lying. She had been waiting quite a long time and was only a person or two away from the front. The funniest part was when she said "Oh, I have had several already. It's not a big deal."
We finally got our precious papers and left at around 1:30.
Now I just need to get yet another official copy of my birth certificate expressed over here from the US (really, how many copies of my birth certificate does the French government need? It hasn't changed from the last two times), and fill out all the forms again.
Someone told Alain that if we have a kid, I can get the French nationality sooner. Now if that isn't a reason to have a baby, I don't know what is.

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