|NOT ON THE MENU.|
There's an information desk. It's manned by an expat (ex-patriot) Englishman, aged 70+. A bit crotchety, we thought last time, but nice enough to us no matter how nasty he was to others. He was occupied and another man who does paperwork (but doesn't usually help visitors) looked up at me. I told him in Spanish what we were there for and he, a bit gruffly (I assume because his job doesn't usually entail dealings with the public), directed me to the line for foreigners to pick up the cards. The line was a small mass of confusion with people coming from multiple directions with no apparent order. It was a warm day and even hotter inside, so San Geraldo went to wait on the shaded front terrace. When the Englishman was free, I leaned over and asked him if I was in the right place to pick up our cards. He looked at the form in my hand and snapped, "Not here!" and then busied himself with paperclips.
I said, "I'm sorry?"
He snarled (even curling his lip at me), "They're only up to 57!" The shuffling of paperclips had become frantic.
|THE CHANGE OF ADDRESS.|
I had no idea what 57 was. He pointed to a post-it note on his wall. In pencil was the number 57.
I said, "I'm sorry. I must have misunderstood. We were told to come back in 30 days. Is there a way for us to know what number is ready so we come back on the right day?
"Go ahead and stand in line for all I care. I'm telling you what they told me." OK, then.
I looked down at my form and saw that San Geraldo and I both had number 61, in addition to a string of numbers that followed. I had no idea until then, that we even had "numbers." A very nice guy behind me said, "Oh, I've talked with that one this morning. Turns out I have number 62. I'm just going to wait and see if maybe they told him wrong." He was holding a British passport and went on to say, "I was also told to come back in 30 days, but I just finally read my receipt and it says it would be ready in 45 days." He added with an eye-roll, "He's a real charmer, isn't he?"
I looked again at my own form and discovered the same thing — 45 days. Too bad I hadn't bothered reading it earlier. One demerit for me. I decided to not wait in line; we'd return in another two weeks.
The only thing that truly bothered me was the behavior of the Englishman behind the desk. Why should a rude Englishman be allowed to badly represent Spanish bureaucracy? Surely, Spanish bureaucrats can sully their own reputations if they choose. It made me remember more fondly Things 1, 2, and even Thing 3, our first government bureaucrats in Sevilla. (Click here to see how memories can change.)
|IT'S WORTH ALL THE BULL.|
I wished my neighbor luck and walked out to San Geraldo, who was trying to stay cool, calm, and collected. I started to vent. He was clearly hoping my little rant would end quickly. So, instead of commiserating, he gently patted me on the back, which I thought was patronizing and, of course, that just about sent me over the edge. We walked home and stopped at a sidewalk café for something cool to drink. We had what turned out to be tasteless, poorly made "slushies." But they were at least cold. I became nice again (I think), San Geraldo cooled off, and we both relaxed. A woman sat nearby with a little rat of a dog. It yipped and squealed piercingly at every other dog that passed; there were many. We groaned. Then someone else arrived with a very large dog. It had a booming bark that nearly shook us out of our seats every time something of interest caught its eye. The sun was shining. It was noon. Noel Coward was right.