I had to go to Immigration today.
-Last September, I got approved for permanent residency in District #1 (I'm calling it that for simplicity's sake)
-I "claimed" the permit and got registered in District #2 at my actual home address
-The inspector in District #2 promised that they would forward my info regarding my address change
-A few months later, I learned that my former hosts in District #2 were still being charged per month for my "living" there
-After trying a few different routes, I was told that the missing link was the office at District #1 which had received the information from District #2 but failed to communicate with the housing authorities
I was told to go straight to the Boss at District #1, which sounds intimidating, but is actually easier in terms of the lines. The only problem (along with not really wanting to go) is that he only has visiting hours once a week, so it took a few months to get around to it. The visiting hours are on Tuesdays and Andrei often works on Mondays after church/lecture prep. on Sundays, so Tuesdays we kind of crash. Well, okay, we also just plain procrastinated.
So today I went over about an hour early. Andrei had to stay home with D. as we didn't have a babysitter and no one in their right mind would enter the District #1 office with a baby. It's so cramped and stuffy in there and people mutter obscenities if you bring a baby, as if you're offering a bribe.
It's always a challenge to find the magic time to arrive, because you could either arrive way early and be at the beginning of the list, or arrive later and spend your time waiting in line instead. When I got there, a few people from the morning line remained.
The morning hours, however, pertained to the matter of citizenship and were attended by a different officer. I got there at 1 pm and the morning hours had ended at 12, but I guess a few people were hoping that the officer just might take one more person. We could hear the shuffling of papers indicating that someone was in the room (the employees have a back entrance). At one point the door opened, the officer saw that there were people outside, and then quickly slammed the door and locked it. I had to giggle at the utter brusqueness of the message: KEEP OUT.
At the next door down, people were keeping track of the Lists, with the usual amount of discussion indicating that the rules were just as confusing as ever. There were already 30 people on the list for the 6-hour window.
The information boards displayed sample forms that had been filled out. A few of them looked new and featured "Angela Merkel" as a residency holder. Someone was taking their job seriously. ;)
One young man in the registration line mentioned that he'd like to get citizenship, but he'd just spent 2 years in the army in Armenia, and upon receiving a Russian passport he feared he would be drafted into the Russian army for a year's service as well. "Three years of my life," he said, choking up. Someone joked that the police station was next door and he could go sign up and get it over with. "But I wanted to go to grad school and everything," he said, wiping tears off his face. There are reasons David is not a Russian citizen.
My door opened abruptly and an officer stuck her head out. "What, you think we're still taking people?" she barked. "Time's up!" she said, indicating the schedule on the door. The morning hopefuls left and I was now alone in my vigil. Meanwhile, more and more people from the List next door were straggling in to check their status. Apparently an original List had gone missing and the current List's legitimacy was under question. I hoped the Boss would take me and not make me go get in the Line next door!
It got to be 2 pm and I was first, with 2 people after me. I hadn't moved from my spot, although I was desperate to use the restroom. My stomach was doing flip-flops and I was trying to practice arguing in my head. We could hear that there was already someone in The Room. Meanwhile, there was a draft and it kept making the door rattle, as if someone was knocking from the other side.
When I told one of the other women that the visiting hours wouldn't necessarily start on time, she started getting impatient. Then she hinted that we should maybe make our presence known. I admitted that I was too timid to knock on the door myself, so she went ahead and did it. At that moment the Boss "decided" he was ready to grant the Lowly Citizens an audience. I entered the room, sat down, and tried to explain my situation (which is actually pretty common). He gave me this look that indicated that I was stupid and/or wasting his time. Then rolled his eyes, took my passport/residency card, and left the room. Sweet. He came back down with my documents and a photocopy for himself, wrote me down in a book, and promised to see to it.
It is all so very silly, and I shake my head thinking about how this administrative "glitch" must be solved by going to the boss. In fact, I would roll my eyes too if I were he. But that's the way the red tape goes...if you want something done, you have to go higher up.
I feel at peace now, knowing that I did what was in my power to do. I regret not being able to be peaceful about it every step of the way, but I believe that God uses my vulnerability somehow...if nothing else, to knock down any pride that I have as an American.