American Bureaucracy

I had 2 errands on my to-do list for this afternoon. I needed to go to the Embassy and apply for Omara's social security number (sigh), and I needed to get my latest cross-stitch picture framed (yeah!)

I went to the embassy, through the metal detectors and the x-ray scanners and everything, juggling Omara who had to come too. I discovered I was supposed to make an problem, they helped me anyway. I was supposed to bring a copy of Chad's passport problem, they just asked me to scan it and e-mail it to them. I had applied before in South Africa but had never gotten her problem, they would call the London processing office, try to find it, and only resubmit the application if no number had ever been assigned, and then phone me with her number so we can claim her on our taxes. No charges. No one acted like I was stupid. The form I got on-line was still the same form they were using, and they actually recognized it and knew what to do with it. No one asked me for a bribe. Amazing!!!! In and out in 15 minutes even with the metal detectors!

So then I went to get my cross-stitch framed. There is only one shop that can stretch cross-stitch properly. I had gone once before, only to find that the office had moved and no one knew where it was. Now, on my second attempt, I was told the only worker was still at lunch, though she was "usually back by 1." It was 2:30. I asked if I could look through frames and pricing options while I waited for her--but that's not possible either. I had to pick the frame I liked, and then she would contact another office to get the actual quote. She would call me back with the quote, at which time I would have to drive the cross stitch back in and leave it with her to actually do the framing. What???? Then she never did show up, so I finally left. To get this crazy thing framed I'll have to do at least 2 more trips across town--assuming she's there next time!!!!

By the time I got home, I had an email message from the Embassy saying London never received her application so they are submitting the new one today by diplomatic pouch and I should have her number in 2-3 weeks.

So, the lesson from the day? American beaurocracy is the most logical, efficient, and helpful part of our lives out here! Think about THAT for a moment, and then send up a prayer for our sanity!


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