Monday, November 15, 2010

Adventures in Socialism: L'OFII

Today I had my mandatory medical visit so that the French government can ensure I'm not some filthy vermin who is going to infect their populace with tuberculosis, rabies, and general mayhem. This meant I had to trek out to a suburb south of Paris called Montrouge, which also meant one RER line, and two metro switches.

I have never felt more like a herd of cattle in my life. I arrived at l'OFII ( which myself and fellow assistants included have been calling loh-phi), none other than the French Office of Immigration and Integration, at 10h30 sharp and was shuffled into a waiting room. I was about to get a cheap cup of coffee for 0,40 euro cents from a vending machine when we were then herded into another room and then moved from station to station.

I was weighed, measured, and had my vision tested. I then had the absolute pleasure (NOT) of going topless for some female nurses so they could take my chest x-rays. Of course, this meant that when one nurse tried to simultaneously get me to sit on a rolling chair with my chest pressed to a machine and chin posed on top of it, mind you while she LOWERED the damn chair and yelled at me in broken English to SIT DOWN, I couldn't because I'm too short to sit and stay the way she wanted me to. For about two seconds, I seriously considered yelling back at her in fluent French that I wasn't a stupid American, that I speak the language fluently, and that she could can it. SIGH. People, I speak your language. GET OVER IT!

The second part of this process then involved a visit with a doctor. Thankfully, this doctor was very docile, quiet, and kind. However, she had a minor heart attack when she took my pulse with a stethoscope. She went quiet and then paused and asked me "Do you do sports?"

For CRYING OUT LOUD, YES! People, exercise is not something abnormal, and in fact, it's quite good for you! I laughed and said "Yes. I run marathons." She then breathed easy and replied "oh good. Your heart rate is pretty low." She seemed rather relieved. She also said my lungs sounded excellent. Not hard when you don't smoke, Frenchies. Not hard at all. Sigh.

I then had to go upstairs with all my papers (and a copy of my chest x-ray, courtesy of the French government and Nicolas Sarkozy...) and waited another damn hour just to have the one person manning the visa de longue sejour cubicle paste the damn residency permit into my passport. All in all, I spent 2.5 hours in Montrouge for what amounted to no more than a 40 minute medical visit (not even...blegh). But alas, I won't be illegal in this country, and victory is mine: I have obtained my carte de sejour (see above picture)!

I have a love-hate relationship with this government.

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