When you live here, ‘expect the unexpected’ is not an advertising theme or the motto for Disneyland. It is a way of life. I woke at three in the morning with a panic attack. Who has panic attacks in their sleep? The simple answer is ex-pats. For the more complicated answer consult your local therapist. I must have been dreaming about our appointment with Immigration. That is Scary Movie 6, 7, and 8.
We get a student lined up to go to Immigration with us, not to assist there, but to aid us with our ID cards, which have to be attained at the district office. However, the Immigration attorney from our well financially fed helping agency was meeting us. I wanted the attorney to tell the student what we needed and how we needed to do it. We pay this agency 880 Euros each for guiding us through the maze of the Residency Permits, but they fall short with the last final touch, our ID cards. Perhaps if they rounded up to 900 Euros, they could throw that in.
Let’s take a detour here. The AGENCY sent Ron an e-mail yesterday. They made him pay for renewing his Work Permit (250 Euros) and Annual Visa (320 Euros) since they would expire before the Residency Permit was issued. These were good for exactly two weeks now that the Residency Permit is approved. They also charged me 250 Euros for two years running and then told me that they made a mistake. It turns out that since I only work at the university, I have no need for a Work Permit and should not have applied for one. We had a discussion about professional responsibility and the reasons for a refund, but that matter had been swept under the table. Needless to say that when Ron received the e-mail yesterday stating that now that he had a Residency Permit approved, he no longer needed the Work Permit, I was enraged, but not for the obvious reasons. What set me off was that they were ‘offering’ to rescind the Work Permit for 120 Euros. Can you believe the gall? When we absolutely do not need them any longer, I will send out reviews to anyone and everyone who may potentially use them.
Back on track, we show up at the Immigration office at 11:45 for our noon appointment. The attorney who is supposed to meet us is not there yet, nor by noon, nor by 12:10. At 12:15, he arrives, goes up to the window of the one and only worker who issues Residency Permits. The student with us shares that he heard the word ‘postponement’ but did not hear the rest. My nerves start tingling, my blood pressure rises, and my mind wants to be on vacation in any other country but here or the US. The lawyer turns to us and says “It seems you had an appointment for yesterday, but changed it.” This is true, I tell him. I had to administer thesis defense exams at the university, but our agency worker was notified in plenty of time and rescheduled the appointment. The attorney continues “When she made the new appointment on the Internet, she made an appointment for turning in the paperwork for a new Residency Permit application, not for picking up approved ones. Therefore, they could not pull our permits from the files. Our original appointment was yesterday; shouldn’t they be hanging around someone’s desk somewhere? I have to give the lawyer credit, he cajoled the worker in a sweet manner to try to push for today, even if later in the day, but without success. We have an appointment for 8:30 am tomorrow. I was going to insert a picture here, but it would have been of me strangling a Hungarian Immigration officer or agency worker, so it was thought best not to have that type of evidence floating around. Jeers all around!!!
On the bright side, I was to go to the Fulbright office tomorrow to review applications for Hungarians wanting to go to the States. Since the day may be in chaos, I went today instead. It took me about three hours to read, reread and evaluate the applications and write reviews. When I was finished, they told me that they had forgotten to mention that they pay an honorarium for doing the reviews. I earned 16,000 Huf for my three hours of labor, though I thought I was doing it for free. That comes to $80.00 at today’s exchange. Cheers for this one!