10 August 2007

Vive la bureaucratie!

1818, from Fr. bureaucratie, from bureau "office," lit. "desk" (see bureau) + Gk. suffix -kratia denoting "power of;" coined by Fr. economist Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (1712-59). Bureaucrat is from 1842; bureaucratic is from 1836.

So basically, what that is all saying is that the French basically invented bureacracy a long long time ago and have perfecting it ever since. — Today was my visa interview at the French consulate and I have to say I can't wait to plunge right into the labrythine details of France's bureaucratic system! Yeay morose paperpushers getting fat of government largesse!

I arrived at 8:45 for my 9:10 appointment with the Education section, all prepared for my 9:30 apointment with the Visa section afterwards. All is well and I sit and wait. And wait. 9:10 rolls around and I wait a little more. –Now keep in mind that these are appointments which must be booked weeks and weeks in advance, are cancelled immediately if you do not show up on time, and can only be booked online; no rescheduling of missed appointments is possible at the consulate. – It is now 9:29 and a woman from the Education section comes out and says "Didn't you get za messâge zat your appointmunt iz cancel?" –Um,.. no. "My collègue said she left you za messâge to not come for today's meeting." –Um,.. I never got any message, no. "Oh là là! Okay, qweekly we will meet and zen you hurray to za Visa section."

So we make haste for the Education section and run into the infamous 'collègue' of message (the same woman I met in October who didn't tell me anything I needed to know and the same woman who couldn't help me in June when I was having all my problems trying to get in touch with the school). "Why deedn't you get my messâge?!" (As though not getting her message was my fault) –Well, uh, when did you phone me? “Non non. I sent you a messâge on zee appointment booking système on zee internet.” –Uh, I didn’t know I had to check back there after I made my appointment. “Yes, of course you ‘ave to check! Eeet iz very impôrtante!”

Murderous thoughts aside, it clearly was not very important because I filled out the exact same forms and answered the exact same questions as when I met with the Education department in October!

I then make tracks over to the Visa section next door and when I get there the woman says “You are late.” (Implication: Your appointment is cancelled). –I was in Education department having my interview with them. “I see. Neext time, you mûst arrive on time.” (Right, I’ll keep that in mind when I apply for a second French student visa). So I hand in all my paperwork and wait, wait, wait. Finally my name is called and I go back up to the counter: “You need to shew us a banque statement.” –Uh, I didn’t bring one. It wasn’t on the list of documents to bring. “Non. You need to ‘ave a banque statement wiss 9000$ balânce.” –Uh,.. I don’t have that. “You need ziss for zee visa.” –Well, uh, I do have my guarantor’s letter (thanks Mum) signed by her bank manager and notarised showing proof of funds to support me. “Non. Zees is for exchange students only. You need zee banque statement.” (Then why the bloody hell was this costly and obnoxious-to-obtain document on the list of papers to bring for non-exchange students!?) “You come back tomorrow, between 12 and 1, wiss ziss document and you can get your visa.”

Aaargh! So now I have to take more time off work tomorrow, go back to consulate, and provide a document which was never asked for, but says the exact same thing as a document I already had!!!

Boo French bureaucracy!


Tokyo Tintin said...


AAAaaagh! After submitting about two inches of documents to get my French visa, now I have to submit all those documents again, plus photocopies, plus even more documents to the Immigration department within eight days of my arrival in France to get my resident card!

What was the point of going through all that bullshit for the bloody visa if I have to jump through all the same hoops all over again when I arrive in Paris?!

Aaaagh! So maddening!!!!

Michael said...

Maybe a french poodle in a crevatte smoking a cigarette and drinking wine will assist you in France. The poodle would clearly be more productive. Such agility would seem to indicate that it could also do paper work quite well.

Miss Ash said...

Yeah, what Michael said!!!

Tokyo Tintin said...

Oh, I also need notarised translations of all those stacks of documents by the way. Yeay France!

Anonymous said...

Dan, you have way more patience than I. I nearly tore my hair out when I was thinking of applying to Lyon for my 3rd year french lit. Actually, I blame it for my drinking problem.


Cat said...

A writer for the New Yorker wrote a whole bestselling book (used today in French history classes) on the terrors of the French bureaucracy. He decided it was part of some French existential crisis to require that all things have both an official, papered existence in the bureaucratic machine in addition to simply existing in the real world.

Jennifer said...

Sometimes reading your blog makes me wonder why I don't ever do cool stuff like moving to France for 3 years. Then I read this and felt vindicated.

Jennifer said...

If worst comes to worst, I'll marry you and you can have EU citizenship.