May 26, 2006

Once every ten years...

...I renew my passport. Having renewed said passport, I then must go to what was formerly known as the alien office to get my residency visa stamped in my passport. Since I do this only once every ten years, I approached this with complete cluelessness. At least I had the forethought to phone ahead and get the office hours, but not much else.

I walked briskly to our local police headquarters, wherein are all things passporty, Norwegian-style, and saw about 70 fair-skinned people milling around entrance B. I scanned the sign and finally realized what the A, B, and C stood for which jogged a vague memory from 10 years ago. I walked around the corner to entrance C, and was instantly met by a couple of dozen dark-skinned people, and a door I recognized. I went inside, more definitely-foreign people, and eventually realized there must a queue system, and sure enough, there was the machine dispensing queue numbers. I then went back outside, because outside was coolish but sunny while inside was stifling. I read a little, wandered to the newspaper shop and got a bottled water, and after a 70 minute wait, it was almost my turn and my turn took all of 2 minutes.

Once inside the waiting room (as they called it), I discovered a row of various forms, and panicked. Was I supposed to have spent 70 minutes filling something out? I grabbed an appropriate-looking form in Norwegian and did a marathon form-out-filling. (You would be so proud of me. Not one mistake.) Then it was my number up, and I went to one of the two windows. "Haven't done this in 10 years, need this thingy stamped in that thingy, and filled out this form," I said, thinking I knew that much, because the last time, that's pretty much what happened. The reply: "We've changed the rules. We don't need that form, but we do need your passport and a passport photo, and you'll get a special visa in your passport. You can pick it up in a week, no sooner. Yes, you have to pull a queue number then, too, and wait." I was eternally grateful that impulse had let me bring the spare passport photo I had.

So I get to go back and do this all over again next Friday. I'm thinking I'll try to be there when they open and go to work afterwards. Today I had the whole day off. And not enough coffee. I really needed coffee.

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