Get used to it

In my post last Wednesday I wrote about les français and their love of paperwork.  I’m learning to come to terms with the mass of paper that I’m likely to receive.  I realize that I may need to keep every single piece of paper the government sends me forever.  This is France after all.  Get used to it, is what D tells me.

On Thursday, I had my meeting with the lovely government types at the OFII office.  Things went well for me but I returned home with more paper than I had left with.  Sure, I dropped off my paperwork at the OFII office.  In return I received two letters, a certificat de control medical (medical certificate) plus two attestations (certificates).  (I also received an x-ray of my lungs. The thing is huge and I’m trying to decide where to put it.)

The process and the paper collection doesn’t end there.  In one of the letters I have to attend a civics class where I’ll learn about France and her institutions; the principles upon which la république is founded (y’know, liberty, equality, secularism, and fraternity solidarity).  At the end of this obligatory session I’ll receive an attestation stating that I’d attended the session.  Apparently, I will have to keep this attestation as I will be asked to provide it next year when renewing my carte de séjour or when applying for at 10-year resident card.  Get used to it Tanya.

I wonder about some of my fellow expats who I saw at the OFII office on Thursday however.  There was the group of women who had shown up without a complete file.  While they discussed whether or not they had all the paperwork they needed I asked myself “did they not read the website?”  As the conversation continued it was apparent they had not.  They were sent home and told to come back on a Wednesday.

Then there was the guy who, at 1:25 pm, strolled confidently to the front of the line while we were waiting.  He looked at us like we were mere peasants waiting for a handout from the king.  He said “I have an appointment at 1:30 pm.”  Yeah, we all had “appointments” at 1:30 pm.  He skulked back from whence he came.

Let’s not forget the people who didn’t have an “appointment”.  They were told to come back in November when there would be time.  And speaking of time, at 3 pm, and young man strolled in and presented his paper with his appointment information.  The receptionist exclaimed loudly, so everyone could hear: “you’re late!  You’re an hour and a half late.  That’s really late.  Why are you so late?  Oh, you’re late.”  When her colleague showed up, the colleague looked at her watch and said to the young man “But you’re really late.  Why are you so late?”  They didn’t wait for an answer because they really didn’t care.

This is France.  Get used to it.

It reminded me of my trip to the French consulate in Toronto.  One lucky man, hoping to get a visa to attend a conference in France, showed up without all the photocopies.  When asked whether he had all his copies his answer was a very hesitant “uuuhhhhh, yeah” to which the sweet Visa lady said “uuuhhhh yeah, like no I don’t”.  The statement was laced with such sarcasm that I nearly laughed out loud.

So, while we may debate whether or not French women do get fat or whether or not the waiters in Paris are the rudest people on the planet, one thing is true:  this is France and we’d better just get used to it.

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Categories: French, French bureaucracy, life

Author:Tanya in Transition

I am a woman in transition. I left my job of 13 years to find happiness and France!

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7 Comments on “Get used to it”

  1. October 18, 2011 at 3:58 PM #

    This sounds like Holland…only FRIENDLY. 😀 I’m not even kidding. I get a feeling that the bureaucracy won’t be ending any time soon. 😉

    • October 19, 2011 at 7:53 PM #

      Nope, it never ends…at least that’s what my husband tells me. The French just accept this. In Canada we expect our government folks to assist us. That’s not the case here. Whether you get through or not they’re still doing their job. That’s what I’m told anyway.

  2. October 19, 2011 at 12:22 AM #

    guess Japan aint so bad after all, lesson from this post – preparation is key

    • October 19, 2011 at 7:52 PM #

      It most certainly is. I took every single piece of ID, government issued document, plus photocopies just in case. I’ve learned that they can ask for anything at anytime and, if you want to get your stuff done, you’d better have it.

  3. October 19, 2011 at 2:26 AM #


  4. October 19, 2011 at 2:28 AM #

    What I’m really laughing at is the stank-ness of the secretary trying to call out that dude for being late. Too hilarious… but SOOOO France.

    • October 19, 2011 at 7:50 PM #

      I know, it made us laugh too. But, you know what, I’ve witnessed the same stank-ness in JA. This was in the bank in MoBay. It was not pretty.

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