• by XpatAthens
  • Thursday, 05 February 2015
Birds Of A Feather

This was a quiet week.  A gloriously quiet week. Between catching up on work, catching up on sleep and catching up on housework, the week has flown by… I did join a group of friends the other night for a casual dinner at one of their apartments. It was a relaxed, impromptu get-together, to welcome a common acquaintance who was visiting from Spain – another expat who now calls Barcelona home.

The conversation inevitably turned to ‘the system’, ‘the crisis’, and comparing stories and experiences… As it turns out, and in case it’s any consolation to any of you reading this, Spain is as… (ahem!) ‘complicated’ as Greece.
The visitor shared an experience she had recently, when she tried to start the process for acquiring Spanish citizenship. She lives in a small town outside Barcelona, and went to the local administrative office, with papers in hand, prepared to book an appointment with an advisor. She was told that the next appointment is in June 2017. That’s 2017.

Dismayed, she returned home and buried herself in a bottle of rioja (not really, I just added that).  Later on, she wondered about her papers and whether they would still be valid in three years. So she looked up the phone number of the office, found only the number for the Barcelona location – and promptly called them. Let’s recall that she has just returned from booking an appointment for 2017.
The person on the phone in Barcelona asked why she was concerned about the validity of her papers.
“Because my appointment is in 2017.”
“What appointment?”
“With my local office.”
“No no. We do not give appointments. Just come with your papers anytime, and we can start everything.”
Conclusion: two locations of the same government office have completely different policies and are completely unaware of each other’s policies. ‘Buyer beware.’
I think we could comfortably say that Italy is not much different. What is it in the nature of these Mediterranean paradises that makes confused bureaucracy a mainstay of public life? I would love to find out…
Until next week,

In this weekly space, keep up with ‘Jack’ as he navigates daily life in Athens… Anecdotes, stories, hits & misses, the good, the bad and, well, the rest…