Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Comune (City Hall) in Rome...only the strong survive.

It's a miracle that I am able to post today. I just returned from the Comune to check on my residency.

Last time I went a nice older lady had given us slips of paper with numbers on them. Once we got inside there was a system. All the people who came after us who were pushing and shoving couldn't jump us in line. I thought it was great. I got there at 7:30 a.m. an hour before the office opened. Why should someone who rolls in around 8:30 get ahead of me? I learned my lesson the last time I showed up at opening hours. The Comune runs out of tickets within five minutes.

Unfortunately nobody was that organized on the line this morning. I got there at 7:20 a.m. Everyone who came up after me asked what number was I? The men at the front said the numbers were finished. That was a bold face lie. There were no numbers. People standing on line were afraid of the intense, heavily tattooed Albanian men at the front. This American guy (his parents are Italian) who was next to me said all their friends were jumping the line and no one dare said a world.

Once the doors opened, it was crazy. People were running to the office. Then folks started pushing, hard. I ended up shoved against a closed glass door. As I was standing there unable to breathe, I asked the good Lord to spare my life. It would suck to die so soon after arriving in Italy.

One of the guards yelled at the people who were pushing and took my arm and helped me into the room. Another employee who always seems to be yelling at people, took my forms. I didn't see the Michael Chiklis look alike today. While I was waiting for information, an Italian woman kept arguing with one of the employees. An Italian man who I believe was a priest or at least a theological student by his attire, slammed his papers down on the counter, said BASTA! (enough) and proceeded to let the woman have it. A few of us had to hold back from laughing. Homegirl really pushed him to the edge. The whole scene was absurd. I wish my Italian was stronger so I could've understand what everyone was arguing about. The employee returned to the counter and said my papers will be ready this week. Yeah.

The downside is I have to return to that office. I tried to ask one of the guards in Italian if there was any special form I should have. He walked me over to another office where there was a woman who was bi-lingual. In English we talked about the madness that happens every morning. I really feel for the people that work there. I'm sure they get great benefits as state or city employees but I know I would lose it.

This morning several immigrants cursed out the security guards when the numbers ran out, others didn't have all their paperwork and then there are folks who can't really speak Italian (like myself). I walked out a 9:00 a.m. and felt like I had been there all week. ha.

I have to mentally prepare myself for my next trip.

20 comments:

joanne at frutto della passione said...

Just be thankful that you don't have to deal with getting a permesso di soggiorno as an *extra-communitario* - that gets even worse! And, you still have the whole day ahead of you!

Romerican said...

After that rite of initiation, you can officially consider yourself a Roman ;)
I loathe that office and am sooooo glad I won't have to deal with them for a long, long time!

Milanese Masala said...

Surreal!! Now there's an idea for a great movie! Instead of getting frustrated, just think of all the inspiration you can get from your experience at the Comune. But I've been there too so I know the craziness that goes on. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

erin :: the olive notes said...

eek! Let me know when you have to go next and I'll say a prayer for you :) This was a fun one to read, but I'm sure wasn't as fun being there. I just told myself on days at the office in Florence (which wasn't as crazy though) that I was lucky to have the opportunity to even be there!

glamah16 said...

What was up with the Albanian? Intense. Oh well, you survived. Its all going so perfect, you have to have some minor irritations.

Los Angelista said...

Whew, that sounds like quite an ordeal! But goodness, it makes for a fascinating read. BTW, I've been thinking about how easy it is for you to get a copy of Italian Vogue, whereas nobody seems to have it here. I'm jealous!

Italianissima said...

Ah, the beauty of living in Italy. Unfortunately it is this way even in Abruzzo. Luckily the few times we have had to do any of this stuff my parents have done it for me. Look on the bright side - you made it out by 9am...you still have the whole day ahead of you!!

Ms. Violetta said...

What happens to the meek and mild personality? Do they ever get in to get a number? That whole description makes me nervous!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Sounds a bit like the Driver's License Bureau downtown in NYC. Really. My 84-year-old mother had to go down there in person to get her ID card since she can't drive anymore, and it was time for renewal, and she was almost knocked to the ground several times. It was insane. This does sound worse, though. I'm sorry you'll have to go back again.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

joanne - see today's post. I hear permesso's are a pain to deal with.

romerican - I went back today. I almost had a breakdown. Ha! I still have to return another day but have an appointment this time. I really look forward to getting my I.D. and not having to return for at least three years (when my lease is up.)

milanese - I guess that is true. I know part of the frustration is not being fluent. I'm at the intermediate level and find it hard to navigate the legal/official things. How do people who speak no Italian function?

erin - Today when the lady at the counter dismissed me I had to remind myself to roll with the punches. I chose to move here. She was just having a very bad, frustrating day and not to take it personally.

glamah16 - The Albanian crew was not there today. I think all those guys worked together, they were not friendly. :) You're right, overall despite my apartment move-in-date being delayed by two weeks, things have gone very well since I moved here. I was upset earlier today but I'm okay now.

los angelista - ha. check out afrobella. She linked to Jezebel who scanned some of the photos. The issue is selling like crazy in the U.S. I hope Anna Wintour is paying attention. I read that Andre Leon Talley suggested the same idea years ago.

italianissma - Yes thank God I didn't have to spend all day there. Not fun.

ms. violetta - if you have a baby, or pregnant I noticed the guards will let you cut in line. However, some of the not so nice folks on line take forever to move out of the way.

jen - I cannot believe folks would knock down an elderly lady like that. What is going on?!

Frankie said...

Wow, I really feel for you! Today I spent two hours queuing to pay for a hospital vist; and that was before even queuing for the visit! The people were shouting, pushing, even ignoring paramedics with people on stretchers trying to get through. Courtesy really goes out the window in these situations here. Glad to see that today you finally got it sorted though.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

frankie - your situation sounds intense...people pushing at the hospital?

Tracie B. said...

that sounds unbelievably awful. i avoided all of that by continuing my status as a clandestina.

has it's perks!

BUT, auguri!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

tracie b - you are too funny. I don't know if you could do that today in this climate. The gov't . is really cracking down. The fact that EU citizens have to prove they have the $$ to stay is new, so I imagine for non-EU citizens there are even more hoops to jump through.

Kataroma said...

Sounds pretty typical of bureaucracy here - well, as Romerican says, now you can consider yourself a Roman.

We had huge problems leaving the public hospital with our new baby on MOnday. I ended up having to wait 6 more hours at the hospital for some form to be signed by the gynaecologist (who never showed up BTW but I finally realised I could just sign something and be done with it) and my husband got shouted at by the person who does the birth certificates at the hospital - he said that since we're both "foreigners" (OK we're EU citizens resident in central Rome but whatever) he was supposed to have gone to the Central Anagrafe on MOnday morning before 12 to register the birth. Nevermind that a large sign posted in my room said that if you are "resident in Rome" you can use the center at the hospital and nevermind that on Monday morning I was pushing a baby out and it's possible that my husband may have wanted to be there rather than queuing at the anagrafe (she was born at 11.24). What can you do but laugh?

Kataroma said...

ooops - meant Saturday morning...

wordtryst said...

Sounds like I'd be right at home... Had an almost identical experience here this week as I attempted to get the new computerized birth cert that I now need to renew my passport. The only difference was that everyone was speaking the same language.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

kataroma - I left you a message on your blog about zee baby! I had to read your comment twice. Really all you can do is laugh. I shudder when I think of how things were 20 years ago before everything was computerized.

wordtryst - my parents have similar stories from their island. I think I would try myself to a Jonnycake and a trip to the beach after. (Do they have Jonnycakes in Trinidad?)

wordtryst said...

No Jonnycakes, but we do have bake-and-shark - from a booth right on Maracas Bay! Absolutely necessary after tangles with officialdom here.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

wordtryst - bake and shark sounds very good!