Bureaucracy and the Immigrant (my Beauty and the Beast tale, um flipped?)
I’m flying back to the states for a week to take care of stuff, so I’ve begun the close down of my expat status here in the UAE, so that InshAllah when I return the rest of my closeout will go quickly. Since, I’ll also be moving to another country in a few months (part of the stuff I have to take care of), I’m also researching expat life in the new country.
It seems running around to different offices, being told different things, and having to get lots and lots of official stamps on official papers is also part of that country’s way of doing things. Woes me and my never-ending stamp/paper trail. Too bad this doesn’t tone body parts!
My home country has its fair share of bureaucratic bullpoop (in the spirit of Ramadan I’m trying not to cuss), but me oh my do I miss the efficiency of things like —- gasp!—- American utilities and cable companies. I know some of you are thinking I’ve lost my mind here, but trust me on this.
It took almost two weeks of running around to get electricity and water turned on in my apartment. It took only two days to shut it off (I was hoping for more time, but oh well). That said, I then have to wait two days before receiving a text, so that I can go to the utility office to collect my clearance letter, and, find out how much longer I’ll have to wait to get back my 1,000 dirham (around $227) deposit. Inshallah maybe I’ll get it that day?
Clearance letter? Yes, I need to bring my employer proof that my debts are paid, which is fair enough. I get that. Why I have to go wait in line to go get it is beyond me. The bill gets texted each month, why not the letter?
Cable and Internet took 3 months to finally get working right in my apartment. I kid you not it took less than an hour for them to cut that sucker off. That said, I will have to wait around two to three days before going to the main office —- God help me! that’s a DMV-like experience —- to possibly collect my clearance letter. I’m fully expecting several trips before I actually get that letter.
Same company also needs to switch my mobile from post to pre paid. Now that doesn’t cut off so quickly. I’ve been told it’ll take up to 72 hours, and in the meantime if I go over my remaining balance of 10 call minutes and under 1 gigabyte of data the switch will be cancelled. So, for three days — at a time when I’m making calls and using data because my Internet is gone — pretty much don’t use my phone. Then, I have to do the prepaid thing, then, you know, wait for my clearance letter. If I weren’t in such a hurry to get these clearance letters before I fly out, I’d space it out better, but it is what it is.
I’m a little confused about the whole closing out my apartment thing, which I will finish when I return. Apparently, I do something online to get a “your closing out housing has been approved” form, then my landlord needs to print and sign a letter, and then I bring it to my employer with everything else, and then, if I’m lucky, during my first visit, someone there signs and stamps, takes my passport for a few days to close out my work visa, and then I get to, hopefully, chill by the hotel pool paid for my employer while waiting on my passport return (2 or 3 days I’m told). I’m holding on to the dream of pool time to help get me through this.
Now, let’s add the fact that I’m also in the process of being hired by a government entity for my country (oh the joy of more paperwork), getting my teaching license renewed (which should be easy) and then I have to, you know, go through the legalities of immigration and housing in my new home, with a language I do not yet know (okay I know like 4 words of it).
I’d say send in the booze, but it’s Ramadan, and I’m trying to be good.
I’m atoning for my disorganised, procrastination sins because this is a whole other circle of hell. I’m not looking forward to all the wasted line time associated with it. BUT, this is a convoluted Beauty (so much for me being a modest soul) and the Beast story. Beyond the curse is the magical, almost happily ever after, overseas life. This too is what I hold on to when being told “Madam, you must go to X, then come back with Y.” Or, being cussed out in a foreign language, while I sit there with my folder of papers, grinning like the mad hatter, hoping the raised voices are proclaiming progress is about to happen?
So yeah, there’s way more good than bad in this life, but do know if you’re planning on moving, working in another country, there is that never-ending cycle of lines you must stand, cry and sweat in.