Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bureaucracy - Swiss Style

Today I had the best bureaucratic experience of my life.

Okay, take your chins off the floor, and/or stop laughing.



I had to go register with the cantonal authorities this morning, in order to extend my visa beyond the original 3 months that was given to me in Montreal. Switzerland, like any self-respecting country, sees value in controlling who passes through its borders, for what reason, and for how long. So, aside from the minor inconvenience of having to skip my morning "workout", I had no problem with this.

Well. I have dealt with American bureaucracy (DMV, schools, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies), Canadian bureaucracy (student visas, work visas, immigration papers, postal service, border crossings) and Quebec bureaucracy (visas, visas, visas, immigration, health "care", driving license, schools, banks ... you name it). So when I was told I had a 9:15am appointment at this particular office out in the 'burbs this morning, and that I needed to bring my passport, my school attestation, and 237 francs, I expected something more along the lines of "show up at 8:45 because appointments don't mean anything, wait until 10:30 or so, get told you are missing documentation because you weren't actually told to bring it, have to make another appointment and/or pay extra money and/or go to another bureaucratic office box, argue with the person, be on the verge of tears because it's now past lunch and you've been up since 6am and you don't understand the language very well and you don't even want to be here anyway so who cares if my photograph is .03mm under the proscribed size???" Etc.

Anyone who's ever done anything in Canada or Quebec knows what I'm talking about. Especially if you had to do the same thing twice, one for each "nation" and each time slightly different and more expensive.

So what actually happened today? I got on the bus, which showed up on time. I was at my destination in 15 minutes because the buses here don't get stopped in traffic. I walked in and was told that since I had an appointment, I could go straight to the back. I showed them my documents, including absolutely everything that I've ever filled out for this place, just in case they needed something which they didn't warn me about, but all they wanted were the three things they had originally asked for. I paid my fee. I waited 3 minutes until 9:15, when I was let in the back to have my photo and fingerprints taken. The guy told me my papers should be in in a week or two. I left the building at 9:20am.

I still had enough time on my one-hour bus ticket to pay for the ride home. Huzzah.

There was the little hiccup that when my bus finally came, there was another at the stop letting on passengers, so the guy just wagged his finger at me as he drove by, while I gestured wildly. Whatever, I got on the next bus, got off two stops earlier than I would have on the correct bus, and had an extra 15 minutes added to my walk home.

I want to marry this city.

1 comment:

  1. This is the most incredible thing I've ever heard of. An efficient bureaucracy? Who knew such magic existed!