Thursday, September 08, 2005

Drama with the Consulate

What a pair of weeks!

Let's rewind to middle of August, when I last posted.

I phoned the Germany embassy in Ottawa to ask if I simply had to send my birth certificate or if there was more to it or what. I spoke to the receptionist, explained that I needed my Canadian birth certificate "legalized" by the Germans so I could get married in Germany. He said to me, "Okay... but what does that have to do with us?". Sigh. I explain again, using small words, that it has to be done by the German embassy in Canada. He then passes me onto to someone who has more clue than he does.

She a right old hag, as I explain what I need again. She says "Where was the certificate issued?" I say, "Canada". She snaps "WHERE in Canada?" like it's an obvious question when I'm phoning halfway around the world. I kept my cool, since I needed her help, but oh, at other times, she would have had an earful. I tell her it's from Alberta and she says "Oh, we don't deal with Alberta. You'll have to contact the consulate in Vancouver to help you." Great.

Since Vancouver is 3 hours behind Ottawa, I decide not to hang around to phone them, but rather send an email asking the following: 1. Do I send you my birth certificate? 2. Do I need to send anything else? 3. How much does it cost? I get an email very late the following day (so basically two full working days) saying "my colleague who can assist you in this mattter is on holiday. I kindly ask you to contact Mr. XXX* next week - Email:
Thank you very much!"
*Name removed to protect the incompetent.

Now, this ticked me off, because to me, these were bloody simple questions. It seems there is only one person in the entire office who deals with "Legalisation" of birth certificates. Why the hell do you have colleagues for if they can't even take over for you to answer to simple questions? Everyone in Germany has been up until now been helpful and friendly, but these overseas Beamters are doing my nut in.

So, Monday, I email him. No answer. So I phone him later. No answer, only voice mail. I email again. No answer. Finally, Tuesday, I get the info I need. Told where to send it, say that I will pay for the stuff, etc etc. Oh, yeah, he did try and fob me off onto the Calgary office, saying they did it too, but I wasn't allowing the buck to be passed any farther. I send one more email to ask how long it will take. Answer: "I can not give any guaranteed processing time and mailing time which will be needed. We send out mail to GErmany once a week on Fridays via the foreign office in Berlin." Once a week to Germany? Via Berlin? What, is this the 19th century and the Pony Express only leaves once a week? It might not seem unreasonable, but when I compare that G sent his off to Australia and got it back direct within 10 days, it seems very unreasonable to me.

So, I pray that it would arrive last week, but no luck. So far, nothing this week, so I phoned yesterday to see if he had received the birth certificate. The guy is away AGAIN until Monday! I phone the extension he gives as the assistance and finally get someone who seems interested enough to help. She says that they haven't received my letter yet. I'm thinking, this is weird, I sent it 2 weeks ago, they should have it. She welcomed me to phone again today, which I did. Still no sign of it. At this point, I started to make a polite stink about it. I told her I was certain it was 2 weeks since I sent the letter and I know it doesn't take 14 days for the mail to get to Canada from Munich. I started to ask if it was on his desk, or if it was in the mailroom or somewhere else. No, no and no; I'm told. I added the comment, "Well, I hope it hasn't been lost, as it's my original document and the only one I have", which believe it or not, seemed to press her a little. She asked for my email address, but I ended up taking hers. About 20 minutes later, I got an email saying that my birth certificate had turned up. Out of the blue. I so wonder where it was. I'm guessing it was just sitting on Mr. XXX's desk, without it being sent.

The woman was helpful enough as to fax me a copy. But upon getting the fax, I was even more ticked off. The document is signed and stamped and dated. Guess when it was dated? AUGUST 30TH!!! So, 8 days earlier. I could have had it this week if they had sent it. If I hadn't put the pressure on, I wonder how long it would have sat there, nothing happening to it.

Well, the good news is that I should have it in my hot little hands by Wednesday at the latest. And I found someone very reasonably priced to translate it, so that is some more good news. Finally.