Tuesday, October 10, 2006

CrankyButt Jones

I had this friend, Sandy, who always came up with whimsical names for people in certain moods. (I say "had" a friend only because i haven't heard from him in yonks, but it can easily be amended to 'have' if only I ever hear from him again). Anyhow, I am not sure if it is Sandy's term or if it just sounds like a Sandy-ism, but today I am CrankyButt Jones and that ain't no lie.


Jesus. You know when you are THIS close to just going off? That's me. Right now. Today was a litany of Things I Hate.

Today we got our Norwegian visas updated and pasted into our passports. It took over three months for the visas to get approved. So today we got to be officially re-residented. The new visas require a passport photo. It seems stupid to have yet ANOTHER passport photo on a visa which is inside a passport, which already has a photo in it, but whatthefuckever, that's the red tape brigade for you and so we brought photos along. BUT, they said mine was not good enough, (no duh, when are mine EVER?) and I had to retake it. So I down to the lobby to get yet another fucking passport photo and the machine stole my last 5 kroners, and I had to go begging from a not very happy woman at the post office for change. I finally got the picture (after three failed first tries including one with me adjusting my hair, another with me looking like I was yawning and the third where i was fighting off a sneeze, but all showing me with my lovely 'wet hair because I wasn't expecting a passport photo today dammit' expression) and brought it back upstairs. Only to have the woman behind the counter sheepishly tell me that she already had the photo I had brought with me LAST time and it was ok to use! All that frustration and 40 kroners wasted! Did I mention I hate having my picture taken?


Then, because I wanted to truly torture myself, I ambled over to the Turkish embassy to get my visa for my upcoming trip to Turkey. Because, yes, I could get one on entry to the country, but from my experience that stuff always takes AT LEAST an hour or more and after a very early morning flight facing the crowds at the visa office is NOT my thing. So I thought I'd beat the rush by getting one here instead. An hour of holiday time is so much more valuable than a few hours of home time, I reasoned. Why, oh why do I listen to myself?

The Turkish embassy is in a lovely old house in the west side of town. I got buzzed through three different gates and doors to be met by a small glassed in room wherein sat three men smoking furiously. I think that was their job, to smoke in that room. They pointed me to a lined sheet of paper on which, I assumed, I was to fill in name, address, and reason for visit, etc., and then I went and sat down in a different, non smoking, but equally small waiting room to wait for them to call me in. After a while of sitting, however, I noticed that there was no communication between those with the pad of paper and those doing the work, so just HOW was I supposed to get my visa stuff going when no one knew what I was there for? It was not a take a number situation. Everyone just sort of hung around, like sitting in this dowdy room was the way life was and that was that. I went up to the inevitable glass security window through which you must shout (this being an embassy specialty) and hollered that I was an AMERICAN and I needed a VISA. Everyone else hollered too, so I was not special. The guy behind the shout window waved at a woman in the corner and said his colleague would take care of me.

But he never told her about me, so when she appeared at the window half an hour later on an apparently random mission, I pounced and asked her what I needed to do for a visa. She said "Go to Turkey, get one there". Haha. Thanks.

I explained that I had a wierd schedule and would rather do it ahead of time, if possible. She gave me a form to fill out and told me to wait some more. Ok.

After another half hour I brandished the form and passport in her face, and she checked it over and said "ok", gave me an encouraging smile and took it back to another room. She was back in five minutes. She told me her boss said they could not accept my passport.

Whafuck? Why not?
It's not good, she said. It's bad and he has never seen one like it.
Whafuck? Why? Steam began to erupt from my nostrils.
It is bad. He won't do it.
*fffrrrppppppp* (steam sound)

Apparently, the bureaucratic twat behind the desk to whom she answers had never seen an American passport to which extra pages have been added. When you get your passport, you have 25 or so numbered pages. When you have pages added, they are lettered, A-Z, and are fairly randomly stuck in between the numbered pages, in my case between pages 12 and 13 and then again, for I have done this twice, between pages 16 and 17. (You can add pages three times at no cost, fyi.) This woman's boss (she told me with a roll of her eyes) did not believe that my lettered pages were legit because he had never seen them. He said my passport must be a fraud. He would alert the American embassy.

I shat a brick right there on the floor. Was this total idiot seriously telling me (through her) that he believed I had a fake passport? A fake passport that had five Norwegian visas, stamps from 15 or more countries, and my picture and signature in at least three different places in it? And i am standing there with my big ol' American accent, not speaking Norwegian and definitely NOT taking this sort of thing in a patient manner?

I looked at the lady. She raised her eyebrows. I told her to take me to her leader. She grinned, broadly, as I guess many people do not ask that, especially tall American women, and led me directly through to The Man Behind the Desk. Who disdainfully thumbed my passport and pointed out the shoddiness of the added pages, taped in, not numbered, how could America be so lax with a passport? This is a bad passport, he said. Bad. Not good. Bad quality.

I politely said that if it was THAT bad, how come Morrocco, Egypt, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and so many other countries had deigned to stamp it AND on lettered, not numbered, pages? I was going to meet my father in Turkey, his favorite country in all the world, I said, did he want me to miss seeing my father? I was not responsible for the shoddiness of the American system of passport pagination. If they are ok with it, why is Turkey not ok with it? Isn't America the most secure country in the world? (Gleam of eye, here. He looked at me. I almost winked.)

He harrumphed and made an official sort of sound and gesture that meant, "Woman, you go sit in the very small reception room with the temperamental child and the very old magazines whilst I ruminate on this Massive and Very Dangerous Security Issue. I am at work Saving the World from your evil passport and must consult with the Very Important People sitting in the glass smoking room".

I went back to the waiting room, after winking at the woman (now my best friend) in the other office.

I was finally approved, after another 20 minutes, however they are holding my passport hostage overnight so that they can make up the visa and insert in onto what I can only guess will be the last remaining numbered page in my passport.

When I was on the way home from all this (AND I worked today people!) I went to the grocery store and my bank card would not work. And Norway does not take credit cards at grocery stores. Only the Norwegian bank cards. So I went to get cash. The machine would not even take my card in. Nor would the other machine. Or the other machine. My card just died.

I have no access to money. And I can't get a new card before I go to Turkey. I'm fucked.

AND our internet was down when I got home so I could not even find the number of who to call nor could I get online to the US bank to at least do some money switching on that account, so to be able to use the US bank card. (Though WHAT money I would use is the issue right now.It's all freaking HERE!)

I threw a fit, called Rich at work in an absolute freak out. He finally said, after hearing ALL This shit that I dealt with today, look , give it up, dig around for some coins and go buy a bottle of wine. Yes I know we are not drinking, but. you. need. wine.

I am now drinking a cheapish bottle of Argentinian red and looking at a very red piece of steak in the fridge that is about to moo its last. At least the internet started up again.

Today isn't even Friday the 13th yet. I fear, people. I fear.

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