Monday, July 14, 2008

Houston, We Have A Date.

Ok, here's where things should get slightly more interesting! We finally have flight reservations to go on our house-finding mission- we leave July 27th for a week.

THANK GOD. I seriously thought that this would NEVER happen.

I did get my first taste of the Dutch people in dealing with Anke at the Dutch Consolate. She was, um... Dutch. And tall. And looked like she could kick Kip's ass with one arm tied behind her back. Plus, she was contained behind a long counter topped with a window that went from waist level to the ceiling and contained 2 vented port-holes for verbal exchanges and little slots for passing paperwork into the office on the other side of the glass. She was a force to be reckoned with, for sure.

Now, I was born in the South, raised in the South, and consider myself to have a certain charm that allows me to navigate social situations with great ease. The Dutch appear to be immune to this charm, or maybe it's that they are not programmed to detect it. My conversation with Anke went a little like this:

Me: Hello! *big charming smile*

Anke: *barely looking up* How can I help you.

Me: We are here to check-up on the status of our visa application. The Miami-

Anke: *looking at me like I was a 2x4* Have you filled out the application?

Me: Um... What appli...? My husband recieved a letter to let us know our visas have been approved, but our paperwork was sent to Miami. They were supposed to-

Anke: But have you filled out an application?

Me: *glancing down at Megan, who is looking up at me like, "What is wrong with this woman?", then looking back at Anka* How could we get a letter that said our visas had been approved if we hadn't filled out an application? Are there two applications?

Anke: *flipping through top 4 pages of stack of paper 2 inches high* I don't have your paperwork here.

Me: *wait- she hasn't asked the name, how does she know* Uh...

Anke: Do you have all the necessary items with you?

Me: My husband should be here momentarily, he has a stack of paperwor-

Anke: Does he have the applications?

Me: You know... I'll just go over here and have a seat until he gets here.

Anke: *no reaction to the fact that I had left window to go sit down*

Then, about 2 minutes later, after I had seated myself between two brochure towers that were starving for reading material (but contained booklets such as "Dutch Innovations: Hydro-engineering", "Dutch Innovations: Advances in Sports and Athleticism", and many about services from the Embassy/Consolate for Dutch ex-pats) I hear from the back of the office on the other side of the window-wall, "What is the name on the paperwork?"

Now, I am not a spiteful person, but I felt that I had worked pretty hard to communicate with this person, and had shown a lot of grace in the face of our earlier exchange, so I did not answer her. It was her turn to work. Plus, she had on one of those little ear-mouthpiece things that go with modern office phones, so I halfway assumed she was talking on the phone, as she was not facing me or even a burly arm's-length from the glass wall.

This act of ignoring her appeared to get her attention. She turned and clomped over to the vented port-hole and honked "The name on the paperwork." at me, and I kicked the southern charm up to 12 (out of 10) and our interaction continued:

Me: "Oh! I am so sorry, I didn't realize you were speaking to me! My apologies. The last name is Noser."

Anke: *not even looking at the stack of papers in front of her* I don't have your paperwork. You didn't fill out an application, did you?

Me: You know, I'm just going to wait until my husban-

*Kip bursts through the door in blue spandex with a flowing red cape and his hair slicked back, minus a single, casual curl on his forehead. He produces the folder 'o paperwork and on top is a printout of a letter with very official Dutch Embassy letterhead.*

Kip: We're here to check-up on the status of our Visas. The Miami office should have-

Anke: *not even looking at Kip* That's not what I need.

Me (to Kip): *whispering* How on earth does she know? Do the Dutch have eyes on the top of their heads or something?

Kip: *glares at me for my obvious cultural idiocy, then says firmly to Anka* This is what the Embassy sent my office in The Netherlands.

Anke: *Now looking at her stack of paperwork* That's not what I need, I don't have your paperwork. Have you filled out an application?

*I glare at Kip until he looks at me, then give him a non-verbal "I am going to kill this person"*

Kip: *after looking at me like I am TOTALLY overreacting* No, this letter says-

Anke: I know what it says. It isn't what I need. Have you filled out an application?

Kip: The Miami Consulate was supposed to fax our paperwork to this office.

Anke: When?

Kip: Yesterday.

Anke: I don't have it. Have you filled out an application?

Kip: *giving up* Can I see the application?

Anke: *sliding 3 applications through the paper pass-through in the glass wall and looking triumphant* Please fill out one of these for each of you.

(At this point I walk away so I don't cause an international incident)

This is starting to get totally out of hand, and I don't want to put you into shock with such a long post after MONTHS of literally starving you for good reading material here... to make a long story short, we filled out the paperwork (much to our Dutch Hostess' delight, and even made her beam because she shuffled it right back to us because we didn't have some of the information for the forms), and Megan and I are going back Tuesday to drop off MORE passport photos, a huge stack of papers, and the freaking forms to dear Anke.

God help us all.


Jesse said...


Kari said...

Uhm, you're welcome?

Martha Jane said...

Hilarious. It's like you were in a movie. Next time request re-writes.