December 3, 2012

Rock bottom Expat day!

I believe I have hit rock bottom with my Expat adventures. Over the past 15 years I have never ever gone through so much trouble for a single document.

Either the so-called United Europe is a load of bla or the French are off on a limb. Probably both would be my impression at the moment! How difficult can it be to convert a Swiss driver's license into a French one? We're neighbours for goodness sake!

I have trudged across Paris three times to have some DomTom French tell me I needed yet another document that neither his colleague the day before told me about nor was it listed on the official site of the prefecture de police. Which makes me wonder: if THEY can't get it right why should anybody else bother?

Today - after my third attempt - I am the proud owner of a little number ticket that grants me access to one of the officers' booths. It does NOT mean I will necessarily obtain my French driver's license. The officer who grudgingly handed me my number ticket announced that waiting time was four hours. FOUR HOURS!? So much for cutting public expenses, there are forty people waiting for their turn and only one booth is open. My calculated guess: the other four are out for lunch at 13:47.

Three hours later I get called to the booth to present my papers. The lady does not seem convinced with what I am presenting but keeps on asking me for more documents of proof. I have come armed with papers. I will give you any certificate you wish in French, English or Italian. Just try me. I did not travel out to the suburbs of Paris three times in one week to be sent back home again!!!! I am controlling my temper while staring her straight in the face with a big smile. She takes the entire stack of papers and tells me to go wait!

I am actually feeling quite chuffed with myself since I've managed to comply with the French authority by supplying an attestation from my Passport country that I lived in my License country when my driver's license was valid as well as an attestation that my driver's license IS still valid. All in French of course! A big thank you to the Swiss authorities at this point who managed to send me the necessary certificates IN FRENCH within 30 minutes! Oh, I cannot begin to tell you how much I loooove Swiss administration officers....

After three and a half hours patiently sitting in a cold waiting room I am called back to the booth to be told that I will receive a letter at home and am handed back my passport and my Swiss driver's license.

Is that a YES or a NO??

The lady insists that I will be contacted. I am starting to bubble inside and looking at her squarely ask a third time what this means exactly. I ask her a fourth time but she keeps on repeating the same sentence: "You will receive a communication".

I get up and walk back to the receptionist/gatekeeper who so kindly granted me a number ticket four hours earlier and ask the question a fifth time: "Yes or No"? She deigns to tell me that it has been approved by the French authority but that the whole dossier needs to be sent to Switzerland for their approval as well. Standard procedure it seems. Never mind that the certificates I needed to present were issued by the Swiss authorities stating exactly that fact.

Should I ever meet the French president one day I will give him a piece of my mind! In the meantime I'll be checking the mail wondering if I have won or lost this battle and feeling thankful I don't need to convert a Chinese driver's license?!

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