Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bureaucracy and how to defeat it

It was only a matter of time before the opportunity to bitch about paperwork in France would present itself.

My son is about to enrol for his BAC at Lycée. The Lycée say he needs a paper declaring that he has done his military service. But he is British, so he hasn’t done any, so he doesn’t have one. Mmm... Now we need lots more papers to explain why he hasn’t got one. His English passport is not enough, ferociously expensive and computer friendly though it is…
Someone in his family could be hiding their Frenchness. He could have dual nationality. We must prove that he doesn’t have a French passport. How can we prove he doesn’t have one? Turn out our pockets? Isn’t there a list of French people somewhere? We certainly don’t have it.

Happily, I have an undercover agent at the Mairie.
She is contacting these organisations directly, to see what it is that each one wants. This is probably breaking the fonctionnaire prime directive to be as obstructive as possible. She will be sacked from their union and sent to the French equivalent of Coventry (St Nazaire?). Most fonctionnaires refuse to communicate with each other, and leave you as their helpless victim, forced to pass on messages between them in bad French. I would like to present this woman with some sort of award, but that would blow her cover.
She is finding out from the military authorities how far back down the family tree we need to photocopy passports - not to the roots I hope – and I hear her saying “Non, Non, Non” in an Amy Winehouse sort of way to the pleas of the Lycée for any document from the Mairie whatsoever, as long as it is officially stamped and not home made and in English, like our photocopies of our passports will be.

You see, my secret weapon is that her son is at school with darling D, and I think he likes her green hair.


Anonymous said...

I have had problems with administration in france too.

Betty Carlson said...

Welcome to the expat blogging circles.

A friend and I agreed a while back that after seeing Sicko, we would never complain about French bureaucracy -- or France in general -- again. But of course that only lasted a few days. I do have dual nationality, however -- and I think I can prove it -- so I guess I have the right to complain about both of my homelands.

Lucy said...

All sounds very familiar... especially the bit about the fonctionnaires refusing to communicate to each other, even withing the same office, let alone to another one altogether.
I thought though that the military service was finished now?

Rosie said...

it is called Journée d'appel à la defense national...and drummer boy informs me that it only lasts a day and you have to sit and watch videos of helicopter pilots and that sort of thing to induce you to join the military...but you dont have to actually go and stab a sac with a bayonnet unless you want to

Anonymous said...

Pas mal l'administration !!!