04 August 2010

The Consulate Disaster

"Disaster" might be a slight exaggeration, but this way it sounds like a bad action movie.
Really it more of an "ordeal", or an experience that can only be described as "terribly annoying" and "kind of stressful".
From the beginning the process of applying for a visa was decidedly un-fun. The french government in all it's glory and cunning came up with this evil thing called "Campus- France" which SOUNDS fairly innocuous but is not. The whole thing is designed to make you pay them 75$ to make you cry. Of course I didn't fall into THIS trap (*LIAR*).
Then 5 or 6 weeks later I was forced to prepare all my materials at the last minute (seriously, the french government sent a secret agent to make sure I procrastinated, it was terrifying!) and then drive 5 hours round trip for what was SUPPOSED to be a 15 minute appointment.
Because of the whole french secret agent thing, I had to pick up my transcript at UCLA, before going to my appointment at the consulate, and my mom (who insisted on coming with, despite the fact that I repeatedly told her that she didn't have to, and it wouldn't be any fun, and they wouldn't even let her in the consulate. She thought she SHOULD. Because obviously LA is big and scary, and it's not as if I live 15 minutes from the consulate for two thirds of the year, or as if I'm moving half way across the world in a couple weeks).  Anyway, I arrived there at 9:00am and picked up my transcript, leaving plenty of time to make my 9:45 appointment. (haha! Take that french secret agent!).
Unfortunately, he caught up with me and convinced me that I knew my way around well enough to take a "short cut". Which resulted in me being completely incapable to find Santa Monica Blvd, which I'm certain was a remarkable feat. Fifty minutes later, and 5 minutes late, I arrived at the consulate.
There are about 6 people standing outside the door, so I ask the woman standing next to me what's going on. She isn't particularly vocal, but I gather that I'm supposed to wait for the guard to come out to let us in.
About 10 very nervous minutes later, the security guard comes out, he asks us all when are appointments are and when I say 9:45 he gives me an "uh-oh" sort of look, but doesn't tell me to go away.
So I wait another half an hour during which I realize that the secret agent made me forget the transcript in the car. However, expecting the cunning of the secret agent, I had brought my high school diploma as back up.
Finally, I'm allowed in, and when it's my turn I go up to the window, and hand my papers to the french accented guy.
Him: Do you have your campus france receipt?
Me: Yeah, I think I handed it to you.
Him: It's not here.
Me: Really? I was sure I gave it to you.
Him: This is not your receipt, you were supposed to click here to print it out.
Me: Oh (*crap, crap, crap*)
Him: I will give you pass to go upstairs and print it out on our computer.
I takes the pass and go upstairs. I follow the link on their homepage to campus france and try to log in. I type something like "kqtherine,byn" and which point it becomes obvious that something is weird. I look at the keyboard, on which many of the keys are in the wrong place. The q is where the a should be, and the a is where the 1 should be, and there are keys with accented letters on them, and the period is where the apostrophe should be. I am baffled, and unable to figure out how to the access the @ symbol which is still on the 2 key but which shares it will at least 2 other symbols for at least a minute. Then I type in my password which like all good passwords has a number in it, I am careful, but apparently not careful enough because you HAVE TO PRESS SHIFT TO GET THE NUMBERS.  After way too long, with my receipt back in hand, I return to the consulate and sit in the waiting room. I wait, and wait, and wait, and WAIT.
For some reason, (probably because it makes more sense) they've taken to calling people up to the windows instead of allowing it to be a free for all, but presumably they've passed my name long ago because they aren't calling it, and are calling names of people who arrived after I arrived back in the waiting room. I listen to the other french consulate lady interrogate a man about his job (professional artist), watch people who think that for electronic finger scanners to work you must press your fingers down as hard as possible (even if you have to permanently damage your finger to do so), and stare at the tv which is turned all the way down and set to the french channel. Finally, he stops calling names which makes it my turn despite what anyone else in the waiting room might think. I go up to the window, and have apparently managed to bring all the proper documents despite the best efforts of mr.ninja agent. They take my finger scan, during which I preformed like the pro I am except for putting my fingers "too much like Spock" (which totally wasn't my fault, because there was a picture of Spock doing the vulcun salute right by the finger thing, and how was I supposed to know I wasn't supposed to give my very best vulcun salute?). Fifteen minutes later they finally call me up and allow me to leave. It's 11:30.
Apparently, I passed the ninja spy test, because I received my visa and will presumably be allowed into france. TAKE THAT NINJAS!
(Editors note: the switch from past to present tense half way through was totally a purposeful stylistic decision, duh)

1 comment:

  1. I had that EXACT same experience with the keyboards! I was like... HOW DO I GET TO THE @??? Finally I had to copy and paste my email address from somewhere in order to sign in to FACEBOOK. WTF guys.

    You're funny. I love your tags. Tags are the best parts. :)


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