Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hell on Earth


Wait in a queue when you can make an appointment over the phone!!!

- Your Friendly Bureau :-)
Attention: We warn you that according to valid legislation, it is forbidden to provide, offer or promise officials gratuities or other benefits including any GIFTS (confectionery, flowers, etc.)

Any such actions will always be considered as behavior constituting the crime of bribery under the provision of section 332 of Act No. 40/2009.
In order to deal with the overwhelming stress of the situation and monotony of waiting for three hours in a tiny room, I wrote a diary entry about my experience at the foreign police this past Tuesday morning. The words quoted above are from signs hanging all over the place.  

I am currently sitting in the waiting room of the foreign police. There are ten people ahead of me in line. I am in the "good" section of the foreign police because I am American. I pity the Russian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese citizens who have to wait upstairs. This room is small and smells very musty. It rained earlier today and it's fairly humid, which doesn't add anything pleasant to a room where twelve people are sharing the same air. The woman next to me smells like old, stale cigarettes. She's young, but smells like an old woman. I think she's Canadian because the friend she is with has a Canadian passport. She's reading an easy reader of Wuthering Heights. There's a young man sitting across from me with a terrible haircut. He keeps sneezing and coughing in my direction. He has a smaller chin than William Powell.

I think I'll bathe in a tub of hand sanitizer tonight.

All of the chairs in the waiting room are blue. They're hard plastic and keep sticking to my arms in the same way the vinyl seats in my mom's old station wagon used to on a hot day. It's interesting to see where everyone keeps their oh-so-important visa documents. Mine are in a black faux leather case with a picture of Katharine Hepburn glued to the back flap. It used to be what I kept my film writing/project stuff in. Now it's busting with quite possibly a hundred government papers - business license papers, residency papers, social security papers, insurance papers, the list goes on and on. The black case is in my black and white polk-a-dot Betsey Johnson bag that's falling apart. I would love to buy a new bag. At least I'm not using a a plastic bag like half the people here are.

The fella with the terrible haircut and no chin is storing his documents in a nice computer bag. Looking at him reminds me of what Hannibal Lecter says to Clarice Starling during their first meeting in Silence of the Lambs:

"You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste."

This guy doesn't make much sense. I wonder what his story is. The gal next to me is writing something in Spanish in her notebook. A Canadian-Spaniard? What the hell. Yo la tengo al melo...
Chinoy... That's all I can see.

Oh! The line moved. I have to teach at 2:00 and need to be back to the school by 1:30 to make copies. There are are only three people working in the foreign police office today. All dudes. Only two are working right now because one is on his lunch break. When I was here last time, a nice blonde lady helped me. She was perhaps the nicest person to help me so far in all of my dealings with Czech government offices. She was dressed all in purple, even her eyeshadow was purple. I trust blondes dressed in purple. I hope these fellas are just as nice.

They're sitting in cubicles that remind me of my dad's first prison in Sheridan, Oregon. For the first year of his incarceration, he was in a medium security facility and I could only talk to him through a glass wall on the phone when I visited him. I hated being there. I remember when they wouldn't let me see him because my Grandma took me instead of my mother. How I cried.

An old woman with a brown tortoise shell cane just came in. She's wearing a purple shirt with flowers on it. I'll bet she's nice. I think she's Czech. I wonder why she's here. It's cute how older Czech ladies still wear pantyhose underneath their slacks. She has little black loafers on. I'm wearing boots. Everyone else is in sneakers. God, I hate sneakers.

Someone opened the front door of the building and I got a whiff of fresh air from the outside world. It feels so nice. Down to eight people, no wait, seven! Holy Toledo.


I had to move and it wasn't convenient to write anymore. I waited approximately one more hour and talked to a dude for ten-fifteen minutes, gave him some papers and hit the road.  

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