I once took one of those silly facebook quizes and found out my nationality was meant to be German. Apparently my personality it’s at odds with my nationality, race or whatever you may call it. I thought the quiz was stupid since I didn’t feel I had any of the stereotypical traits that German people are supposed to have. Organization, punctuality, coldness, reserve, nerves of steel and an aversion to casual touching. (I am cursed with all of those)
I have discovered, however, that I would probably thrive in Germany. We went to the Colombian Consulate to finish the paperwork for Alfonso so his body could go to his family in Barranquilla and in the middle of my Friday, when I was already threatened at work for missing two days over this ordeal, we found each other in a madhouse also known as the Colombian Consulate in Miami and with no other choice but to wait there until everything was done.
After miraculously surviving the Miami drivers we made it to the consulate. It looked pretty from outside with the flag waving proudly on the top and the place a nice terracotta building that look like a hacienda of yesteryears. Pandemonium awaited us inside. There were screaming, running children, people talking loudly, plastic and fold-over chairs in rows, fans and an oppressing feeling of…poorness. That more than anything bothered me. Call me a snob I don’t care, but is it too much to ask for our governmental employees, the ones that represent Colombia in a foreign country to dress as if they are Colombian representatives and not like a college student after a weekend of partying? Casual Fridays took a new definition that day.
Not only was the place depressing but it was a palace made to the God of Formica. There is little I dislike as much as Formica. I was willing to ignore all that, I was, truly! I am perfectly aware that the brat that came to this country 8 years ago still kicks in now and then but I could not ignore the disorganization, the yelling of names of people who were waiting instead of having a number system or even a microphone so the people waiting could hear their names been called out.
I am not sure what was worse, the line of people who were there to pick up their ID and had to sign they had received it in a piece of paper that was 1”x3” and then folded over as if it was a name for Secret Santa and then thrown in a box, or the fact that they were using type writers, or the fact that there were no clearly delineated lines, or the fact that the employees didn’t have all the paperwork close by and one of them had to actually leave his place to go pick up the paperwork in another floor. Talk about efficiency!
No, let me rephrase that. I do know what was worse, it was the fact that the Consul of my Country didn’t have an office, a space of his own where he could sit and direct, manage and make Consul-like decisions. No, he was seating behind the main counter, on a Formica desk, in a bright yellow and blue polo t-shirt that was way too small for his generous girth while he ate empanadas. Oh the humanity!
I was so pissed off and embarrassed. Pissed off because I was incredibly overwhelmed by all the paperwork that had been done already in the moving of Alfonso and here, yet somehow we had managed to get him ready to go in less than seven days but there in the place where everything should be easier since we are all Colombian and they are there to help us, they were slow and bureaucratic (redundant much?) and the one place in the process where everything didn’t go smoothly. And I was embarrassed because I always am sure to tell Dear Husband how civilized we are and how everything works there the same way there as it works here and he was suddenly smack in the middle of a perfect example of Hispanic governmental incompetence.
Now I should not be so harsh with them since my uncle’s contact in the embassy was the one who helped with the entire process of sending Alfonso home to be with his family. The lady found us the funerary home, the shipping company and also gave us an insane discount courtesy of the Consulate. It truly isn’t the Consulate’s fault I guess. Since they have no resources to be at par with the way things are run nowadays. They are truly doing the best they can with what they have. But we aren’t an incredibly poor country. The Colombian Consulate in Venezuela is nothing like that, then why should the Miami one look like a grocery store where they call your name when your two pounds of chorizo are ready?
That said, I must admit I have been here way too long. I have lost my ability to stand in line for 8 hours to get my passport done. I had forgotten how damn long and slow all those processes take at home. I have lost my Hispanic patience. Even with my family! On the way to the Consulate we had to turn around twice because they had left something behind and all I could do was sit there seething wondering why in the fucking world wouldn’t they just prepare everything the night before and be ready to go when we had to. Dear Husband turned the car around TWICE without a word, blessed as he is with never ending patience while I could feel my right eyelid twitching as it does when I am passing furious and heading into volcanic rage. I guess my temper is the only thing that saves me from being German since they are stereotyped as controlled individuals and my temper is the one thing I cannot get a hold of.
I feel horrible saying it but I cannot wait to be an American Citizen and never again have to go to a Consulate.
Vielen dank und gute tage!