Al funcionario español

There are probably 3 aspects to my life here in Spain. One is teaching (see previous post). One is traveling (getting to that, I promise). But the third aspect is definitely having to deal with funcionarios, or bureaucrats, here in Spain, and the incessant delays they cause.


This should not be a surprise to anyone. We all know what it is like to have to wait at the DMV (see a few posts ago). But for some reason, I feel like Spain takes this annoyance to all new levels. For example: on Tuesday the 4th, I took the bus into Jerez to go to an orientation for all of us auxiliares, to get information on health insurance, applying for the NIE, etc. Getting to Jerez on the bus was a piece of cake, but when I got off the bus at 8 am, I discovered that the citywide bus system was on strike, and had been for weeks, so that the bus lines were running at about 25% of their normal capacity. I waited rather pointlessly for a bus with another auxiliar, but when 2 more auxiliares showed up to wait after 40 minutes of no buses, we decided to take a cab to the meeting together.


The meeting was at a youth rec center, and after we signed in and picked up our health insurance packets, we all sat down in an auditorium to listen to 2 people welcome us, and then talk at us about the NIE. In our welcome folders there was some information about what documents we needed to bring to the police station, half of which I did not have. For example, I had no rental contract, since my living situation was basically that I moved in and gave cash to my landlady. I also didn’t have any passport photos, or photocopies of the entry stamp into Spain. But from what I had been hearing from most of the other auxiliares, none of that was needed. What wasn’t on the list was the background check and the medical certificate that I had been at such pains to get in the United States.


So during the speech and the question and answer period, the funcionario from the Junta told us which police station we had to go to depending on where we lived. I had been assuming that I would have to go to Cádiz, but the funcionario told me to go to El Puerto de Santa María, although the office was officially in Puerto Real. After a coffee break where I chatted with several other auxiliares, I left the meeting early and walked back to the bus station in Jerez to catch a bus to Puerto Real.


Well, there wasn’t a convenient bus to Puerto Real, so I took the bus to El Puerto de Santa María, and when I got off the bus, I hailed a cab to take me the rest of the way to the Foreigner’s Office in Puerto Real. By this point it was almost 1 pm, which is when the office closes. This was not unexpected, as most things close at 1 or 2 pm. What was unexpected was that the office did not have afternoon hours. What was even more unexpected was that when I managed to ask a funcionario there about the documents I would need, he told me it would be best IF I WENT TO CÁDIZ.


. . .


So I exited the police station and stood waiting in what was my second sketchy neighborhood of the day (the first one being the one I walked through getting from the youth center to the bus station in Jerez). Caught the first bus I could that would take me to Cádiz, and got off in front of the police station there at just before 2. I knew from the Internet that this Foreigner’s Office would be closing at 2, but I hoped that someone would take pity on me. The funcionario there did not disappoint. She took all my documents, looked through them, and told me exactly what more I needed (just one passport photo, photocopies of my visa and entry stamp, a payment form from a bank. No rental agreement, no background check, no medical certificate). However, she told me that most banks would be closed until 5 or so, and that they themselves were closing in about 2 minutes. This office had no afternoon hours either. So back out to the bus stop I trudged.


I get to go back another day, and I have already decided that day will be tomorrow. I will bring all the papers I need, and I will go directly to Cádiz at 8 am. I will get that stupid number. I will then go to the Movistar store and open an account and get my Internet picker-upper. The bus doesn’t go back to Alcalá until 2 pm, so I will most likely go to the beach! And when I return home, no one in town should expect me to do anything except the horrific pile of laundry in the corner of my room, and to be glued to my laptop. Socializing will have to be saved for the outing my colegas and I are having on Saturday.


Here’s to the Spanish funcionario. Making life more complicated, and Internet-less, since October 4th.


One Response to Al funcionario español

  1. Pingback: An update or five « An Academic In Spain

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