Sunday, September 26, 2010

Playing "clerk's pet"

Neighbors disagree about the proper location for dogs to relieve themselves
If I can stereotype here a little…Germans love rules, which is good because they have a lot. For example, there’s actually something called Ruhezeit (quiet time) where it’s forbidden hammer nails, mow the lawn or engage in other noise making activities. Although, sometimes I wish we had that here…especially when my apartment neighbor decides to serve tennis balls to our shared wall as I’m getting ready for bed.

I’ve apparently inherited this favorable disposition toward regulation from my family lineage. In fact, more than once, Thomas has told me that I take rules too seriously. Take this past Friday as an example. In preparation for our move, we had to complete several bureaucratic matters.

To get ready, I poured over the related government websites, ensuring I had all of the proper documentation. And in each case, I got “petted” (as Thomas would say) by the officiating clerk for following directions.

First we went to the Register of Deeds to request a few extra copies of our marriage certificate. You have to show ID (like your driver’s license) to verify your current address, but if it isn’t up-to-date, you can bring in a utility bill and another form of ID. So I did. Once I presented all of my information, the clerk thanked me for reading their website, adding that no ever does that. And when I told her I requesting the copies as I was moving out of the country she said she “really hoped” I would come back to Wisconsin. Wow. And who says government workers aren’t friendly? ;)

Next was the Secretary of State. I needed an apostil for our marriage certificate so I could later attain a residence permit in Germany. I laid out all of my information and documentation just as before. The clerk was very receptive, but I failed in one task: the envelope. I had brought in a stamped, self-addressed envelope, but it wasn’t large enough. My bureaucratic euphoria visibly began to dissipate. The clerk took pity on me and gave me an envelope to address and even told me they’d take care of the postage. Whew!

The last stop was updating the title of our car at the DMV (I paid it off a few months ago, but put off getting a new title). When I got to the window, I stated my case and had a copy of my marriage license (showing my name change) and original purchase receipt for the mileage record. Again, the clerk was very pleasant and complemented my preparedness, something I ‘m pretty sure amounts to a soldier’s medal of honor on the battle field. There was only one moment of awkwardness. He was having computer problems, and I nervously remarked that it must be because I’m from Arizona (not sure why I was uneasy…maybe it was his biblical-themed tie with the words “Revelations” on it). He laughed and proceeded to talk about the immigration issues there. It quickly became apparent to me that we were clearly on different sides there. But I didn’t dare let that show. This man held the final badge in my bureaucratic sash. After what seemed like an eternity, but was more like four minutes, I had my new title. Success!

Now, if only I can be equally victorious once we’re in Germany!