21 November, 2006

Can I buy an umbrella here?

Yesterday started out mildly enough. I got up early to go pick up some documents that I needed to take to the police station. When I rang the doorbell at the translator’s apartment and nobody answered, I had no idea to what degree this foreshadowed what was to follow.

Meeting up with Zoran, who graciously offered to translate at MUP (the police station), didn’t really happen as planned. As I walked to MUP, it started raining pretty hard when I was halfway there, and I had just removed the umbrella from my purse that morning before leaving.
Oh, well, a little rain never hurt anyone.

But a little rain quickly turned into a lot of rain. After going into quite a few shops and asking, “Mogu li kupiti kišobran ovdje?” I finally found a place where I could buy a kišobran (which translates as ‘rain defender’). It was a lot more than I wanted to pay – the cheapest one was about $23, but it was kind of cool looking and I was already as soaking wet as I was willing to get, so I got it.

The day pretty much spiraled from there. Before dinner I went to MUP a total of 4 times, back to my apartment 3 times, to the health insurance bureau twice, with various other stops and missteps along the way. At one point one of the support spine/stick things on the umbrella snapped for no reason – leaving me with a cute, expensive, and on-its-way-to worthless umbrella. Zoran was most likely late getting his car back to his dad, risking getting his driving privileges revoked. Taylor got trapped in the bank when they said they could do something quick, but ended up taking her passport and other documents and disappearing for 20 minutes when she was trying desperately to come meet us at MUP.

In the midst of all this, MUP was a story in and of itself. I was informed that, even though I have attempted to officially change my address 6 or 7 times since June, and last time was told everything was in order, in fact there was some glitch along the way and I might be given a fine and misdemeanor charge for illegally failing to change my address. The lady also implied that she had the power (and possibly the intention) to deny my residence application, as well as Taylor’s (which would presumably result in deportation for us both) for failing to submit the proper paperwork.

The root cause of all of this seems to be miscommunication: the downstairs people tell us different things than the upstairs people do, BUT we can only communicate with the upstairs people upon invitation, while the downstairs people are usually available to the public. In the end, Zoran worked his civil-communication magic and we obtained the correct paper from the correct government building and turned in multiple copies and I think things are okay for now. But I have thought that before…

It’s just frustrating to feel like we’ve been bending over backwards, spending countless hours and so much money trying to get all of this sorted out, and when we’re given incorrect information and told different things most times we go in, in the end it is our fault for not complying. And it seems like our only hope is what kind of mood whoever we talk to is in whenever we happen to be talking to them.

But, I suppose, in the end everyone messes up sometimes, and none of us are as rational as we might think we are. I know the U.S. government has its own considerable set of problems and inefficiency, so it’s really not a Croatia-specific or culturally based issue.

Later in the afternoon, the lady at the umbrella shop lent me her personal umbrella while she took mine to try to fix it.

I thought that was nice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like somebody had a case of the Mondays! Whaa whaa... Debbie Downer