I like to keep my brushes with officialdom to a minimum if I can. Language issue is one reason but secondly, the almost inevitable sinking feeling of not being able to complete what is in most cases a simple task in one go. Let me explain by using one past example.
We had to renew our empadron (registering as a resident in the city or town you live in), this is a document obtained from the local city hall ajuntament/ajuntamiento. Gironas’ is housed within a fine old building in placa del Vi. Off I went with the requisite documents I needed to show. which were all listed online.
First step is the ‘gatekeeper’ who directs you on where to go depending on the purpose of your visit. I already know where I need to go but this jobsworth beckons me forward. Mini interrogation over I enter the section on the ground floor where gatekeeper no.2 sits. I repeat what I’ve just said to the previous drone. You’re given a numbered ticket, sit down in the waiting room and watch the small screen above.
As far as waiting time, this is entering into the ‘how long is a piece of string’ scenario. A quick tally of others waiting is useful but not indicative. Your number eventually appears with a designated table (taula) number. This time around I fail, there’s a problem with my latest rental payment receipt. It’s missing the agency’s official stamp. No explanation on earth will change matters, off you go with your bundle of papers. 1-0 to them.
After wishing I’d rather watch the grass grow I summon the motivation for try number 2, having obtained said agency stamp. I fail again-do these people relish others misery? This time my electricity bill is too old, it needs to be a more recent one. I’m starting to wish this place had a ‘screaming room’ to let of some steam. 2-0 to them.
Third time, paperwork in order I decide to take my Catalan speaking daughter as backup. It’s a Friday afternoon so their minds are set to POETS ( piss off early tomorrow’s Saturday). We breeze in, a cursory glance at my passport, and bingo, we get to the finish line. The documents are printed and handed over. I pinch myself to check it’s really happened.
Was it due to the fact that my daughter spoke Catalan to them-I’ll never know.