One More Séjour...
After an unsuccessful trip to the Préfecture de Police for my Carte de Séjour a few weeks ago, I was expecting the run-around, once again, when I arrived this morning. The rain was cold, the wind was blowing hard, and I expected long lines to enter the building.
I was pleasantly surprised to see no one waiting to get in, and was ushered through security with no hassles, and even a smile or two. I walked to the room where my card was being held, and as I opened the door, whispered a prayer of thanks to see only 4 or 5 people waiting. I took my number, and was ushered to a seat by a young woman, who then struck up a conversation. She asked my nationality, and when I said American, she asked if we could switch to English. "Of course!" I said. "My English is much better than my French!" Another man heard us, and asked about why I was here. Through the conversation, I found out that he was also an American scientist, like Dr. B, and was living here in Paris.
My number was then called, and I rose to meet the woman who held my fate in her very hands. I produced a thick folder that included absolutely everything she could possibly ask for, and more.
Of course, she asked for the one thing I couldn't find.
"Where is your recipissée?"
"Um... ahh... it must be here... just a moment..." I frantically flipped through the papers, the certificates, the receipts, the health records. Nope. No recipissée.
I knew that I couldn't have possibly lost it. It must be in there. I hadn't moved a thing, except to add that one paper I had forgotten the last time. Nothing else had been removed. It must be there.
She asked again.
"No." I said. "It's not here. But I know what you mean. It is small, and blue, and has my picture attached..."
My heart sunk. Once again, I was going to have to go back home, for one stinking piece of paper.
"I think I gave it to you, last time?" I pleaded. "Maybe you kept it?" She walked to the back room, and returned with my file, including the little card that was the only thing that could legally keep me in France. It was there, just beyond my reach.
"No," she said. "It's not here in your file. I don't have it. You need it, to stick the stamps to. Are you sure you don't have it?" [Note: the stamps that I paid 200 euros for. Stamps. 200 EUROS for STAMPS!!!!]
I sighed, and said I didn't. It wasn't there. Another visit for nothing.
She walked over to another desk, photocopied a page, and brought the new copy to me.
"Anything that looks like this?"
"No." I felt like weeping. I couldn't believe it. Again. I'll be sent back to our apartment again, to find the one piece of paper...
"Ce n'est pas grave."
What? Did my ears deceive me? Did she just say it's not a big deal?!?
She told me to take a seat, and I did, clutching my thick file to my chest and praying that she would be able to find the thing I needed to stick the stamps I bought to so I could finally, FINALLY get my
Another man behind the desk called me up, by my first name.
He took the paper from her, the copy of someone else's recipissée or whatever that thing was she copied, with their name scratched out and mine written in, my 200 euro stamps affixed securely. He made a few marks, wrote some numbers down, and asked me to sign.
Then, he handed me my very own Carte de Séjour.
I let out a triumphant "Woo Hoooo!" and everyone in the office laughed.
I have my Carte de Séjour!
I can stay in France!!!
(Good thing. 'Cause you know the French Police have nothing better to do than beat down my door and kick out the wife of a scientist. Must be all that subversive dog walking I've been doing...)