Thursday, April 12, 2007

And Baby Came Too...


To Grasse in the company of a 6 week old baby to deal with the importation of my Golf:

The surliness and intransigence of French bureaucrats are legendary so you can imagine how much I was looking forward to the encounter. From past experience I knew I'd be coming out of the Prefecture 2 hours later, sweaty, with elevated blood pressure and minus the paper I needed.
However, things have changed in the corridors of the administration and there now exists a system of priority so if you're young and/or attractive, well dressed, know the person issuing the tickets or in charge of a baby you take priority over everybody else.
I swear I didn't know this when I decided to take the baby but you have no idea how pleased I was I had.
Anyway, my number was called about 15 minutes later, after all the young and attractive people had gone through. .
The only problem was that I'd forgotten my electricity bill, my proof of residence, and without which it's simply not possible to obtain any official document. At that point as the clerk was about to send me home with the elevated BP, the baby turned brick red, opened his mouth and started crying, that shrill, new baby wail that cuts right through you like a chainsaw....
The upshot was that the clerk wisely decided to overlook the electric bill had the stamped piece of paper across that counter pretty quick.
The moral of the story, of course, is to borrow a baby next time you need to confront a French bureaucrat. I suggested to his mother that she could probably get a little business going renting out her son all in the spirit of enterprise...
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19 comments:

FrenchGardenHouse said...

I am thrilled to have found your blog! Having lived in Europe on several occasions, I am (not really) fondly remembering all my experiences with the European bureaucrats. :)The best was one who kept insisting I wasn't an American, was I sure I was?lol

Taking a baby is a brilliant idea! Thank goodness for that crying, gets them all the time. My daughter currently lives in Scotland. She is threatening to write a book about the surly bureaucrats there...silly girl, she was raised in California where most actually SMILE at you and are helpful.

I will be back again and again, you are living the life my husband would love to live! Lidy

Gigi said...

Oooh - what a great idea - I wish I'd known about that last week when I had to deal with the CAF. It was all by phone though...hey, do you think if I recorded a screaming baby as background, it would work?

Nah. On second thoughts, they're probably used to screaming babies at the CAF...

tut-tut said...

Perhaps you can start a new business for those going in to deal with bureaucrats: Rent a Baby. You could have several just about to howl at the ready!

Shaz said...

Thats too funny,
Those were the days: young hot and babies I miss the old days, It did the trick in lines and offices every time.
Now I just sit and wait my turn yes sit! with the nanas and the poppys talkin bout the old days LMAO

I dont think the french have the monopoly on beauracracy, but I have heard their a little highly strung (giggle)

Mountain Dweller said...

Nice one Angela!
Luckily I don't have to go to the Préfecture very often. I just take all the paperwork to the very kind secretary at La Mairie who gets it all done and gives me a call when it's ready to pick up.

Betty C. said...

I was just going to say the same thing as what is in the first comment: a brilliant idea! Another one is to act like you don't speak much French at the beginnning, then little by little step up the pace. By the time they figure out you really know what's going on, they may want to make sure you never come back...

That said, the majority of my encounters with administrations here in Aveyron have been quite pleasant.

Poppy Fields said...

Ha! My french drivers license is issued from the Grasse prefecture and I have had to go there a couple of times to change license plates on cars. Boy, I wish I would have had a baby with me then!

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Very clever indeed, Ang!! I'll have to remember when dealing with any beauracratic nonesense. I better encourage my friends to start having more babies ;-)
Peace & hugs, JP

Open Grove Claudia said...

Brilliant! I admire your courage and capacity to find the "cheat". WHOO HOO!!

What's a little hearing loss (from screaming child)if you get to actually drive your new car!!

sarala said...

Great story. Do obnoxious teenagers have an equal benefit? I have one of those.

Jackie said...

Fab story! I was very amused to read about he screaming baby!

J x

Kalyan said...

A well captured shot & liked your story too!

Tinsie said...

Fab story! Babies can come handy when dealing with any bureaucrat (not just French ones). I've seen them work their magic on several occasions all over Europe - in some countries they even place you at the very front of the queue!

CJ said...

Well, go figure...yet another use for babies! I wish I'd made more use of mine while they were still useful ;) I'm pretty sure that would work most places! Love the photo (I think I say that to you every time I comment). I wish I could paint well enough to capture the tranquil coolness that the scene evokes :)

Astrid said...

If I'd known that I would have borrowed someone's child before going to the prefecture on friday spending to hours in the waiting for my number to be called. Talk about blood pressure rising...

Vintage to Victorian said...

Hi - I'm so pleased to have found your blog (not sure how, but it was via ... via ... via ... when I was blog-browsing this morning). Your posts are easy to read and your sense of humour is not unlike my own!

My bestest friend lives in Nice (I expect you know her!) so maybe I'll spot her in one of your photos. It's great to see where she lives because dare I say it, hubby and I are probably the only couple on the planet who don't have passports (confession of the week).

I'll be back!
Sue

roger said...

Good tip. I suspect however that getting a baby is harder than dealing with the prefecture! One can but try!

Jilly said...

Love this story. Clever you taking the baby along!

Wonder if it would work with six barking dogs...

Jx

Anil P said...

Truly a baby's day out :)