Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Carte de Sejour-Part II

After spending yesterday going over paperwork and making copies, we set off to "la Cite" for part two of our Carte de Sejour. We had heard it could take several hours complete with medical inspection on the one extreme, to "oh, the worst part is over" on the other extreme. This was our day to find out.

I had images of the immigrants on Ellis Island waiting in lines, being inspected, rejected, and dejected. Thoughts of people's names being changed to "normalize them" or just because they couldn't communicate with the officials whirled in my mind. Would we come away with names like Mulanet or Suiszer? Would we be whisked away to a cold sterile examining room? Would our kids be able to come with us? What is Sean going to do if I can't go with him? I guess he'll do his best Marcel Marceau.

We arrive early, which is fortunate, because it is very confusing trying to find the room with America, Middle East and Europe. Once found, we enter and register with the receptionist who gives us a number. I'm number 10 and Sean is 11. There are many other people in line ahead of us. It looks like a very small operation with 7 or 8 different cubicles. No one seems to leave the room we are in for inspection. Good. There is a TV with music videos to distract the kids. Good (mostly). I duck into the hallway to make some last minute copies.

One hour, and we have not been seen. The people ahead of us are slowly being called and then they leave after about 20 minutes. Okay, not too bad it seems.

Finally, after about an hour and a half I am called back to counter 7. I go back with my file and greet the clerk. She goes over my paperwork, keeps some, throws something out, and returns some to me. She seems surprised that we have brought children along. Yes indeed, I say (one of the major reasons for the trip I'm inclined to say, but don't). She tells me I must apply for a Carte de Circulation for them across the hall when we are finished. Later we wonder, "what happens if we don't register them? Will the child snatchers come and take them?"

Sean is then called back and Quinn chooses to stay in the waiting area with the bracelet he is braiding (we can see him from where we are). My clerk encourages me to go help my husband while she attends to some paperwork. Unlike Part I of carte de Sejour, my husband is not treated like a monkey, and he and the man seem to be communicating without my aid. Those French classes pay off for Sean! His clerk seems a little skeptical of our paperwork, but my clerk assures him all is well.

Our "dossiers" pass inspection! We are then sent across the way to set a date for a medical exam. Assuming we pass the exam, we are presented on that day with our Carte de Sejour which allows us to live in France for a year. If we choose to stay in France longer, my clerk informed me that we can just mail it in next year.

The woman who sets the medical appointments is like the public servant from hell. She tried to not look up and notice us there. Finally, she looked up, and there we were, two pesky immigrants wanting a date for inspection. She tosses out December 6th, and as much as I hate to, I ask if we can try another date. (I have a French cooking class at someone's house in the neighborhood, for goodness sakes! First things First. Food is First!) Here's how it goes:

Pesky immigrant - "Would Dec. 7th be possible?"

(This is where the woman turns into a robot in voice and manner)

Clerk- "The Prefecture has no available times on this date."

Pesky immigrant- "Would Dec. 10th be possible?"

Clerk- "The Prefecture has no available times on this date."
P.I.- "How about the 11th?" (note: not as polite)

Clerk- "The Prefecture has no available times on this date."

Pesky and Persistent Immigrant- (fearing I may have to give up lovely French lunch after all)
- "How about the 12th?"

Clerk- "The Prefecture has some available times, 8:30, 9:00..."

P.I.- "9:30 would be great, thank you very much, Madame." (pouring it on)

Clerk- actually almost smiles (or is it that the frown lessens) and wishes us a good evening.

Meanwhile, Mag's face is flushed and they've just about reached their limits. After finally figuring out how to exit the compound we're in, we find ourselves along the Seine.

We amble along the Right Bank eyeing what the bouquinistes are selling along the way. Maggie and Quinn find a couple of momentos and we enjoy the color of the sky.

We decide to go to Anglelina's to have a special treat to celebrate passing Part II of the Carte de Sejour. The rest should be no problem unless they find calloused feet and worn knees a reason to reject an immigrant.

It was nice to be out at night as the city is so beautiful in the evening.

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