the old foreigner police building on Olšanská
I was going to title this post “Bureaucracy tamed” or even “Bureaucracy conquered”, but I realised that would be total bullshit because you never really beat bureaucracy. It’s too much like herpes – it might go away for a while, but you can be certain that there will eventually be another outbreak.
To cut to the chase, I have received my new visa. I am now a fully valid, legal and legitimate member of Czech society for the first time since March of last year. It’s kind of anti-climactic, really.
I got the news that my visa was ready in Bratislava almost 2 weeks ago. I couldn’t go and pick it up straight away because I was waiting for my health insurance card. They make you show proof of health insurance before they will actually stick the visa in your passport. The card never came. Finally my minder got on the case and she and my man Friday worked out what had happened.
Somehow VZP, the Czech health insurance leviathan, figured out that I was no longer a permanent resident. Which meant that I was not entitled to the insurance card they had been about to issue to me. They cancelled the card. And that is all they did. They didn’t call me, they didn’t write me a letter, they didn’t get in touch with my man Friday. It’s a good thing my minder is an intense control freak and always on top of things. Friday then sorted out the most basic foreigner health insurance for me and paid up front for a year of it. He sent my proof of insurance over to my office by messenger. That was Monday. I picked up my visa in Bratislava on Wednesday.
Once you cross the border back into the country with a new visa, you have to report to the foreigner police within 3 working days to “register” the visa. No rational explanation, just another hoop to jump through.
Every foreigner dreads going to the foreigner police. The place is a constantly disorganised mob scene. The people that work there are miserable and mean, and there are always crowds of grubby migrants from further east. I was going to the new foreigner police premises for the first time.
They opened this morning at 7.30. I had been told to get there at 5 a.m. to secure my place in the queue, and that if I wasn’t there by 7, I wouldn’t even get a number. I got there at 7.40, still drunk from last night’s work drinks. I got number 611. They were on 528. I guessed I’d be there for at least 3 to 4 hours. But 30 minutes later, my guardian angel walked in. She had told me that she would be there with a client and that I should look for her. She grabbed me, we walked into the big hall where all the desks are, and one of her contacts handed her 534 and 535. I had just jumped 77 places in the queue and I was being served.
I have now done all I have to do. Friday will take care of everything else.
Meanwhile, back in The New Amerika, I am still waiting to hear from the California Bar Association. They have been considering my appeal for about a month now. Like I said, herpes.
* and thanks to Jono for the inspired title (no herpes though).