101 things to do when you have 101 people before you

This morning, I decided it was time to tackle some administrative chores. Now these are the kind of things for which I’m the world’s greatest procrastinator. I just hate it, the senselessness of it, the mind-boggling lack of logic in the whole process, and the pure waste of time that it inevitably entails. Nevertheless, you gotta do what you gotta do, right ?

After a nice optimism-inducing breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup, I headed out on my bike to the préfecture (French for “place where time stands still”). I didn’t feel the need to rush, because on this particular venture I simply wanted to do two things : register my change of address, and get the list of documents that I’ll need to renew my carte de séjour (residency permit). Oh yes, you do have to go the préfecture in person to perform these seemingly menial tasks; I think the people in charge believe that they would have to pay some kind of tribute to the almighty god of Internet (think a busload of virgins, or whatnot) before they could allow you to do some paperwork online. Geez, it’s called paper-work, after all, what did you expect ?

Upon arriving at the préfecture, I found a nice lady sitting at an orientation booth who directed me to the correct office for my needs. Whereupon I ventured over to this office and pressed a button on the little machine by the entrance, which after a few whirrs and buzzes spat out my ticket.

By a stroke of luck, they were currently serving number 04, and I had 05. Oh wait… that’s 604 they were serving, and I had 705.

Not such a surprise, really, because whenever you go to the préfecture, you know you’ll be waiting for quite a while. I did think, though, that 101 people before me… was a lot. So I waited for a while, anywhere between 15 minutes and a half hour (remember, in this place time flows in a random manner, making it quite difficult to judge its passing), after which the “now serving” sign proudly displayed that they were now up to number 608.

This situation, you see, is why I am glad to have paid particular attention to my advanced arithmetic courses, back in the day. I quickly estimated that 4 persons in 15 minutes meant that 16 persons were advancing per hour, and since 16 x 6 is close enough to one hundred, I could expect to arrive at the front of the line after the 101 other people, approximately by the time… hell freezes over.

So what’s my take on the 101 things one could do while waiting for 101 people to go through ?

As a matter of fact, I would suggest only one : go home, and try again the following day…

Tomorrow I shall attempt another assault on the préfecture, this time making sure I get there at least a half hour before opening time, in the hope that that will allow me to go through before closing time!

Oh yes, and this is simply to find out what the necessary paperwork is. After that, I’ll have to return again to actually deliver my papers.

“Be believing, be happy, don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.”
Gordon B. Hinckley


3 thoughts on “101 things to do when you have 101 people before you

  1. Pingback: Sorry Mayans, but I’m calling the whole thing off « sometimetoulouse

  2. I lived in Switzerland years ago and we built a house. The rules, regulations, and paperwork were mind boggling. The lines were never long, but it seemed you needed to get permission from some official person for every little thing you wanted to do. Everything needed to be approved, including the color we could paint our house after it was built.

If you don't tell me what you're thinking, our world will end. We'll blame the Mayans, though.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s