Thursday, August 13, 2009

Waging War

Well I went and got everyone all up in arms about it all.

Thanks to me exploiting facebook with my countdown of When Liesl Is Going To Wage War On the Local Berlin Immigration Office.

The blog fodder for this kind of thing is epic.
It's not every day that one graces the hallways of public civic buildings with the intention of mowing it down by way of a reeeeeeal bone-uh-fide Amurrrcan temper tantrum. You know what I'm talking about.
This could also be loosely referred to as "nuking."


I drug my happy ass to the cest pool of all hell-holes and sat the same, aforementioned happy ass down with my designated Waiting Number. The feeling that one has of being one bovine in a stall of moo cows due to being crammed into a damp waiting room jetting off of a hallway that is peppered with similar waiting rooms and closed-door offices is not just the imagination or a sudden onset of paranoia.
Oh no. It's real.

The first lady behind a big, mean desk who I asked was quite pleased with herself to tell me that the director of this, here, immigration office (she whom I sought) could have been on vacation for all she knew because she had not seen her in a while. But that was not before she had no idea who I was talking about:
me: "I would like to speak with Mrs. X"
her: (picture me imitating her blank stare) "Mrs. X?"
me: "The director,"
Cause I'm all - hello? Big boss lady? The Main Squeeze? The Big Cheese? The Man? The Great Oz? YOU WORK FOR HER???

Having very little faith in her deeply intimate relations with her own boss or her knowledge of, well, anything, I ventured up the stairs, as directed, into the same exact replica of the Martha Stewart-style decor (her autumn collection) as seen downstairs but with more of a hint of puce lacquered onto the walls.

(If you look up the colour "puce" in dictionaries, they will tell you that it is in the red-brown family. With a hint of purple?
The writer of this blog would like it noted that the word "puce" was not chosen in this narrative for its faithfulness to the reality of the retelling but rather because the word "puce" sounds like something very very very revolting.)

But the cattle stalls were empty and the only sign of life was at the end of the hallway behind double glass doors. I rang (yes, rang) at the closed doors and a proper little secretary shows up, calmly opens the door and then very politely asks me what the hell I want.
After nicely telling her that I wanted to please speak with her ever-loving boss and that it was about my work visa so she had better let me in if she knew what was good for her, she gently informed me that her boss was not in at that moment and did I not get the fact that her boss didn't conduct personal interviews cause I mean, aren't all the other beasts of the farmland down there in the puce hallways waiting on the same thing?
I ever-so-lovingly informed her that yeah, I got it, and that I had a letter from my employer and that her boss and I were already in touch with one another so she needed to just back up off this like woah and when is this woman coming in then?
She respectfully dropped me in by saying that I could just give her the damn letter for crying out loud and this would all be over with.
I graciously thanked her for her offer to play messenger boy but that I would prefer to see the Big Boss Lady myself so thanks, but no thanks oh and by the way, answer my question already and tell me when she will be in.
The verdict was that Head Hancho would be in later and that it could last a while to which I replied that I would be more than happy to wait, sat myself down in one of the holding tanks and pulled out a book.

The irony about the above conversation is that it happened in exactly the way that I relayed it.
Because it was in German.
There is nothing quite like being able to use a formal "you" when talking to strangers or elders while nevertheless using a tone, an inflection, and specific lofty vocabulary that still gets the "I will go mental on your ass" point very clearly across. And all the while avoiding any other exciting words you may or may not have learned from your older brother to say when you were angry or stubbed your toe cause he thought it'd be funny to see you get a thrash for it.

So I waited for two hours.

Yes, I saw the secretary again.
Yes she told me to scram and that she had already told me that she would tell me when her boss showed up.
I just wanted her to know that I was there.
And that i was going to the bathroom.
Cause folks, I was conducting a siege.

After my two hour siege, one apple, roughly 30 almonds, the end of one book, and the beginning of another, I was informed to get my ass into the hot seat because Big Boss Lady had finally arrived so look sharp for the love of all things good and holy.

I gathered my things, breeeeeeeeeeezed past the secretary into her office which not so much as a "how you do," and asked if I could sit down.
I had to ask because there was no chair in front of her desk.
There was a conference table but no chair in front of her desk.
There's always a chair in front of a desk.
It's just how it's done.
But there was not a chair in front of this desk, doggonnit, so between feeling myself flirting with the brink of insanity, my nerves being on strike, and the almond/apple combo that had done no one that was involved any amount of good resulting in me having to yell over the sound of my own stomache and the ungodly noises that it was producing - I was fit to be friggin' tied.
So I just asked to sit down.
It just seemed like the thing to do.

Poor soul was too busy trying to understand why the deuce I was standing in her office and probably what the boy-howdy-golly those horrible noises were that were coming from my stomache.
She allowed me to sit, I regained my composure, tightened my buttocks and dove straight in.
Laying out all of the paperwork I had ever accumulated under this sun that might have had to do with the matter at hand, I hit her with it.
I am rather proud to say that, on this first go-round, her ammunition was sorely wanting. She told me that she was not the one that did the processing of work visas and I told her, well, right but that I have to work in two weeks and nothing had been processed even though I had applied ages, nay, eons ago.
She admitted that she had received my previous e-mails and already forwarded them on to the proper personnel and I valiantly resisted the urge to inform her that her personnel - the whole shagging shooting gallery of them - were all a bunch of nincompoops with the collective brain power of a table leg.
She had nothing to say to the copies of the e-mails between my former case worker and myself. This would largely be due to the fact that both the alleged case worker and her alleged case workING could have been replaced with a bowl of cornflakes and the amount of work accomplished would have been the same.
We left the situation standing that her people would be in touch with my people by the first part of this coming week or Bob was her uncle.
She really said nothing about Bob or her uncle but I felt that the "or Bob's...." was understood.
And I promised that I would be in touch.
I apologized for freaking her secretary out, walked straight outside, right up to the first person that I saw and asked for a cigarette because well, damnit, I needed one.
That person happened to be a long-haired, euromullet-sporting, leather-clad biker dude wearing a sticker that said, "Whoever wants to f*** has to be friendly" so I figured he would have been largely okay with me telling him that trips to the immigration office were officially mandated to be followed up with chain-smoking, binge drinking, and any other form of reckless behaviour that would wipe away all memories of puce-coloured walls.
Yeah, he agreed.