“You’re living the dream,” is what people say when they learn we’re heading to Europe for an extended stay, but I don’t always feel that way. Hotel-living, travel, sight-seeing, modest cardiac-safe levels of adventure – what’s not to like?
Bureaucrats, that’s what’s not to like.
Yesterday’s discovery that our designated bureaucrat forgot to process my visa application is a classic twist in the overseas-working-holiday picture. In short, whatever you expect the bureaucrat to do, whatever he/she says they’re doing – it is not so.
And the fact that they hold your passport and identity information, plus wield the awesome powers of “the state,” forces you to be your better self when dealing with them, when really you want to be your five-year-old, tantrum-throwing self.
Our friends Al & Nina (not their real names – must shield their identities from foreign bureaucrats who might wreak horrible vengeance on them for sharing this story) danced this dark waltz with Spanish visa authorities who insisted she stay in Canada during her application while sending him willy nilly around the globe fetching documents to feed into their paper shredders (I’m sure this is true).
After sending Al to Japan on a boomerang mission to fetch security clearance from a northern district’s police department, because they had lived there once, and then return immediately to British Columbia, and then back to Toronto to pick up their visas, a Spanish official handed Al his visa, with a dark comment about Al stealing jobs from decent, hard-working Spaniards (Al’s company was creating 400 jobs for those Spaniards, but visa bureaucrats are weak on math).
And then, the official turned to Nina and informed her that her visa had been denied. Nina – who had endured a forced year-long separation from her beloved because of this bureaucrat – is ordinarily a suave, well-dressed, dignified, intelligent and articulate woman.
As she threw herself against the embassy’s safety glass, she reminded the official that while inside the embassy she “may technically be on Spanish territory, but you have to come out sometime, and when you do, you’ll be in MY country and I”LL be WAITING.” Nina managed to say a few more things as her husband physically dragged her out of the building, but I don’t want this blog to get blocked for inappropriate content, so you will have to imagine the rest.
We are waiting for the day that embassy’s security tapes get hacked and put up on Youtube. It’s going to be a doozy of a show.
In the meantime, I’m coping with my own visa-stress by applying generous dollops of Breyers Black Forest ice cream to my thighs,via my digestive system, of course.