Good news, bad news - It only took a couple of minutes (and 70 days) to get my French driver's license!
|Waiting in line to pass security. The man in the green jacket and aviator's cap is the one who had a gun.|
The good news is that I finally have my French driver's license...70 days after I first applied! The bad news is that I had to give up my career as a truck driver to get it. Here's a timeline of events:
November 22: Stephane takes the day off from work to get our driver's licenses. Having done this in many countries, we mistakenly think that it will be an easy task. After scrutinizing all of our supporting documents, petty bureaucrat denies my application because my Swiss passport does not indicate my maiden name and place of birth. I generously offer to tell her, but she responds that she needs an official document, such as a birth certificate - translated in French, of course. Denied!
Stephane sympathizes with me, but I can tell that he's secretly relieved that he doesn't have a maiden name and will soon have his French license. But then...petty bureaucrat questions why Stephane signed our apartment lease when we were still in Switzerland. She hints that perhaps we still live there and have ulterior motives for wanting French licenses. Stephane, who is normally the calm one in our family, cracks under the pressure and makes a remark about the stupidity of the system to petty bureaucrat. She's not pleased. Denied!
November 23: We stuff the contents of our 3-drawer filing cabinet into a portable file and return to the Prefecture de Police. We wait. Our numbers are finally called and another petty bureaucrat asks for a slew of completely different attestations and documents. Stephane whips them out with lighting fast efficiency in an obvious battle of Swiss organization versus French petty bureaucracy. He's determined to beat the system. When Stephane disappears to make yet another copy of an obscure document, petty bureaucrat and I have the following conversation in French:
PB: You will receive a letter in the post informing you of the date of your medical check-up.
MK: Why do I need a medical check-up?
PB: For your truck driver's license.
MK: (Certain that I had misunderstood) Excuse me, but I don't want a truck driver's license.
PB: Well, it's included on your Swiss license. You can give it up if you want (looks at me suspiciously because she believes that I'm going to give up my career as a truck driver and live off the social welfare system in France).
MK: If I give up the truck driver's license, do I still need a medical exam?
MK: OK, I'll just take the driver's license for cars.
|The back of my Swiss driver's license apparently indicates that I can drive semi-trucks!|
Stephane finally reappears and relinquishes his career as a truck driver, too. [What's really funny is that PB wouldn't give me a license because she didn't know my maiden name but was prepared to let me drive a huge semi-truck in Paris because she misunderstood the classification system of Swiss vehicles. That's scary!]
Approved! Now, we had to wait for the invitation from the police to pick up our licenses.
December 12: We receive letters inviting us to present ourselves at the police station after January 20. The invitation includes a long list of documents to bring with us.
February 1: Stephane and I leave home at 7:50 am, ride the metro for 40 minutes to Porte de Clignancourt and wait in the freezing cold to pass security. We end up waiting a lot longer because one of the guys in front of us has a gun with rubber bullets. As policemen scurry to encircle the man, Stephane and I make our way to the all too familiar second floor. After showing another petty bureaucrat all of our papers (again!), we sit down and wait.... Stephane receives an email from his boss saying that he needs to go over a presentation with him before noon. More minutes tick by.... PB calls us to her desk a couple of times to ask if North Dakota (where I was born) is in the United States and to demand another attestation. Stephane develops a maniacal look in his eyes and comments that he understands why the man in line had a gun. I worry about Stephane's sanity and pat his arm. Finally, we're told that we'll receive our licenses in a couple of minutes. And, we did - a couple of minutes plus 70 days!
Now that I've received my driver's license, I need to upgrade my status from "newbie" in Paris to something else. Any ideas?
|My French driver's license! It took petty bureaucrat 1 hour and 4 minutes to review our documents (for the 3rd time!) and to issue our driver's licenses.|