As I wrote in my last post I finally got my plates authorization after two months of paper shuffling. The very final delivery from the pencil pushers were supposed to be the “Carte Gris”. I was told this was going to be delivered by “lettre recommandée” which I would have to sign for. I thought this was good because the last time I had to go to the sous prefecture in Gex myself and stand three hours in a queue.
As it turned out it would have been better if I would have done so myself. First, when the letter came I either missed the mailman while being out and buying bread for supper or he didn’t bother to deliver it in the first place but just put a note in my mailbox saying that I could pick it up as from 10 o’clock the following Monday. The latter has happened before.
Unfortunately the place for me to pick it up is a small post office which really should be closed down but the closest neighbours cling to it with their teeth so it is kept open but with useless opening hours (about two hours each day and only during working hours) and incompetent staff. So I had to get away from work to pick up the bloody letter.
Now Monday was a holiday in France so the note was obviously wrong to start with. Worse, when I came there on Tuesday they could not find the letter. What the f…? The lady fumbled about shifting the other mail around a couple of times and then declared that the mailman had probably made a mistake since yesterday was a holiday. What did that have to do with things? The note said that the mailman tried to deliver before Monday and now it was Tuesday so the letter should be there. Anyway, I grudgingly agreed to go back the next day.
The next day the lady repeated the exercise (did I mention that the staff is incompetent). This time I stood my ground and explained that she told me to come back today and that, if I went away empty-handed again I would call the foreign ministry and inform them that the post office in question had misplaced my diplomatic plate papers. Then finally did the woman rummage around a bit more in a disorganized pile that she claimed was todays (the letter should have been there already on Monday remember…) delivery and actually found the letter. So now I had wasted three days due to this horrible post office.
Of course I opened the letter right away and found a carte gris…which was incorrect! The old temporary number was on it but not the new green plates number. What the double f…?!?! So I jumped straight into the car and went to the CERN office for the special green plates at the French customs. They agreed that it was wrong. They looked up my car in their new fancy informatics system and found that everything was correct in there. They have been telling me all the time that the new (ubercomplicated) procedure is due to the fact that they are now computerized. How the bloody hell can you make a informatics system which allows the clueless pencil pushers to print an incorrect carte gris when all the information in their system is correct?
So they had to send the carte gris back to the sous prefecture. Of course the diplomatic courier happens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and although it was Wednesday it was too late. So now I have to wait until next week for another letter with the, hopefully, correct carte gris. I bloody well hope it comes since my temporary insurance is about to run out and I cannot have it converted into a real one until I have all the papers. What an unbelievable sloppiness. This just reinforces my belief that government should be kept small. The less government-paid bunglers involved in people’s lives the better.