Saturday, March 19, 2011

Adventures In Borken - Part One - Kreis Office

Last fall, I spent a lot of time in the Kreis office in Borken.  It’s essentially the county office of the city we live in.  It’s like any city/county/state office in any country; stinky, slow, a glimpse of hell on earth.

Welcome to your local city office
In case you still aren't convinced that you are an outsider to the country, there is a sign that says "Alien Registration" in English to answer your question.

Unfortunately, this picture doesn't capture the waiting room smell.

Since moving to Germany, I have filled out an acre of trees worth of paperwork and jumped through numerous hoops (they actually had hoops to make me jump through in the office.  They sometimes at least give me a piece of chocolate upon completion.) in order to get our work permits and residential permits set.  The paperwork load required for a work permit here would be equivalent to the American paperwork needed to establish and name the 51st State after yourself.  

After 6 trips to the office and our passports settled last fall, I was under the impression that the worst was over with.  That was until this week.

Monday morning, I received a call from my colleague at the University saying that we’ve run into another ‘devils circle’ with the new University contract that starts next month.  A devil’s circle means the University won’t sign my work contract without a work permit (from the Kreis office) and I cannot get a work permit without a work contract from the University.  And around and around we go.

I immediately left for Borken late Monday morning to get my paperwork ‘stuff’ and head to the Kreis office.  ‘Stuff’ means every conceivable piece of paper they could ever need.  Being a veteran of going to these offices, I have learned that you need to be prepared with every original possible document you can imagine.  Everything is in play (marriage license, birth certificate, dental records, a drawing of your family from Kindergarten class.) 

I arrived at the office at 1pm, and saw that the office was closed…for the rest of the day!  The office is only open from 8:00am to 12:30 pm, if there is a full moon, and the tide of the North Sea is out (ebb.)  A crucial day was wasted. 

The next morning I came to the office armed with an unsigned contract from the University, a letter from the Chair of the Finance department confirming the validity of the contract, as well as everything else I could possibly need.  I was ready to get this over with.   Little did know, we were only getting started.  

In previous 3-4 trips to the Kreis office, I had successfully navigated our paperwork and the conversations around in German by myself.  This time, as the office worker was explaining my insufficient paperwork, I was not catching any of it (or the rationale of it).  After navigating previous conversations in German, I couldn’t say that I only speak English.  I had so many questions, but couldn’t ask them, due to my bad German.  I felt like going down to my knees and beating my head against the ground (a tactic used by Dylan when he can’t communicate with us.)  Finally, the office clerk wrote down the three things that were missing and sent me on my way. 

  1. More paperwork to fill out for me, Dana, and Dylan.  It’s not much, but enough to overwhelm you when it’s all in German. 
  2. Income statements for the last 3 months.
  3. Letter from our landlord (who lives 2 hours away) stating that we will stay there.

As of yesterday, after waiting in the really stinky waiting for an hour, I handed in all of the paperwork and should hear the results in the next week.  Upon completion, I will need to go back for 1-2 more times, depending on the results to get this over with.

One more reason to love Germany.  Another castle (Raesfeld) that can be reached by bike.

Schloss Raesfeld

Schloss Raesfeld

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