As of today I am officially closed for rest. That's what all the signs around here say. Chiusi di fierie. A great idea I think and a much better word than vacation. We leave for Sweden in the morning and we return in about two weeks. I'll be back then, but in choosing RyanAir we also chose to fly with only hand luggage weighing no more than 10 kilos and I'm not giving up clothes for a computer. Especially when we will be staying with his dad who has no internet. There's really no point and I think the rest will do me good.
But we haven't left yet and there's things to tell you about. I've already told you that I have a part time job as a nanny when I come back. The mom told me that she would have someone in the office call me and tell me what documents they needed from me. And a very nice woman from an office somewhere did call me, but while I was at the park with another little girl and a screaming pack of 10 other children. She only spoke Italian and I couldn't concentrate on her words and she finally said that one of her coworkers who spoke English would call me in 5 minutes.
The next woman who called said they needed documents, but she didn't seem anxious to tell me exactly what they were. She just wanted my e-mail address. I spelled it but she must have written it down wrong because when I checked my e-mail late the following day (I worked again) there was nothing there. I worried about this over the weekend, wondering aloud why no one could just tell me over the phone what documents I needed and guessing at what they might want. It's Italy after all, where paperwork was invented.
Leif called the mystery office for me on Monday, but (of course) the woman I needed to talk to was on vacation and won't be back till the 27th. The woman he did talk to wouldn't tell him which documents we needed, although I'm guessing that she knows exactly which ones we should bring. They both work in the personnel office for goodness sake.
So we are trying to anticipate what we'll need and have it done before we leave for Sweden, leaving our minds free to rest in gay abandon without worrying about what happens when we return. We''re guessing that as they are paying into my social benefits I need that paperwork done and probably I need to open a bank account so they can deposit money directly into my account. When the dad had to pay me the Sunday I worked he looked confused, like, "You want me to give her cash?" Definitely they won't pay me directly.
First I needed to change the name on my Codice Fiscale, or Italian social security card. This happens at a completely different office than any of the others we've visited lately so it was a nice change of pace. We got the correct form from the desk where we also got our number. We sat down to fill out the form (which I filled out wrong, but in the end it didn't really matter) and waited for out number to come up. We barely got sat down before our number flashed on the screen and I dragged Leif back to the office to look for desk number 14.
We told him what we wanted and handed him our badly filled out form and my passport. He looked at my four names and called a colleague over for a whispered consultation. "Can she have that many names? How do we do this?" I sat there looking as innocent as I could. He took my forms off to make copies, brought them back to the desk and sat down at the keyboard to get started. And stopped. He said "They changed your name and number at the Questura," and pointed to it on my permesso. He looked so happy that he didn't have to be the one to initiate the paperwork with too many names on it. He told us they just needed to have these copies and that now I would have not only my Codice Fiscale but another card that is a kind of medical card. He placed his office rubber stamp on the form, initialed it with a flourish and sent us on our way.
Wow. Less than 20 minutes, no extra paperwork and a smile to boot. I felt invincible. I was wracking my brains trying to figure out what other offices we needed to visit because obviously today was my day! But then we got distracted by celebrating our victory with coffee with one friend and then gelato with another and suddenly the day was gone.
The next day we were in and out of the post office to pay some bills in less than 10 minutes, another miracle, so we decided whatever mojo we had going was still working so we went to open a bank account.
Banks here make me nervous. Every bank has an airlock at the entrance designed for one person at a time to enter. Some banks have armed guards standing outside at all times. I'm not sure how effective they are as they seem to spend most of their time on their cell phones, but it's still a little intimidating. Leif's bank has been in business since the 1500's. I decided to be totally American and chose a fairly new credit union close to our house. They still have to let you in through controlled glass doors but there aren't any guards so I'm comfortable there.
I'm giving you everything in English here, but remember that all this is happening in Italian. Fast, Florentine accented Italian.
Leif: We'd like to open an account for my wife.
Bank Girl: OK. (looks at me) Is she Italian?
Leif: No, American"
Bank Girl: (slight frown) Is she a resident?
Leif: No, but she has a permesso and lives with me. I'm a resident.
Bank Girl: (calls an office 10 feet away from us and he comes over to help. She looks relieved.)
Bank Guy: (takes us to his office and whips out a brochure) What can I do for you today?
Leif: We want to open an account for my wife because she will be working and they will do direct deposit.
Bank Guy: (Long spiel about the bank and accounts.) Which would you like?
Leif looks at me...I chose the "small" account which costs nothing and has a bancomat card so I don't have to come inside the bank to take out money.
Bank Guy: So we just need her Carta D"Identita (residence card) and we can open the account.
Leif: re-explains my non-resident status.
Bank Guy: (calls girl at front desk [just like she called him] and asked how to open an account for a non-resident. She still doesn't think it can be done.) I'm so sorry (yes, he apologized) but we can't give her a bancomat card. She can open an account, she just has to come in to the window to get money.
Me: That's fine. I walk by this office nearly every day anyway to shop.
Bank Guy: (looking relieved) Ok, we just have to fill out some paperwork. (and leads us back to the girl we started with)
Bank Girl: I need to make copies of your passport and permesso and codice fiscale (and whisks them away while handing me a form for non-residents to fill out)
As I finish filling out the paperwork with fewer mistakes than the day before Bank Guy comes back with Bank Girl and my permesso.
BankGuy: But Signora! Your permesso says you are a resident! This is wonderful! Now we can give you the bancomat card!
Bank Girl grabs the paperwork I just filled out and loudly crumples the pages up and throws them in the trash. She attacks her keyboard with enthusiasm now. Page after page starts spitting out of the printer. She and Leif joke about printing a book and she starts placing pages in front of me to sign.
Bank Girl: Here....here....here......here........here.......here..........here, here, here.........and here. You have to come back to get the code for your bancomat card and to initiate the online banking, but all that can wait till you come back. Have a good trip and we'll see you at the end of the month.
I walked out of my new bank feeling a little dazed. At first there seemed to be no way they could do anything for me and suddenly they nearly burst into song because they found a small loophole that allowed them to give me all that I wanted.
So I should be ready now for the personnel office when they call. Of course there's always the possibility that they're going to ask for some other obscure paper I've never heard of, but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. After I've rested.