Sunday, June 28, 2015

How simple stuff becomes complex

I recently discovered that to use a notary here in Florence isn't as easy as back in Minnesota; land where you can walk into your bank, many state or county offices and lots of businesses and ask if they have a notary and they'll say "Sure! Come on in and sit down. Show me your license, sign here." Then a flurry of activity as they stamp, date, sign and stamp again with a flourish. You put your license away and ask how much it costs. They quote you anywhere from "It's free if you have an account," to "Two bucks", which you happily pay and leave having spent less than 15 minutes from start to finish and with enough money left in your pocket for lunch.

At least this is what it was like when I got married 3 years ago and had to change nearly every piece of identifying paper I owned.

Fast forward to last week, when I discovered that my Power of Attorney wasn't specific enough for the state of Minnesota. Even though the definition of durable PoA is pretty clear, Minnesota has decided in the last five years that the definition is a little too loose. So no problem, I write a more specific PoA. This requires a notary to witness my signature. That's it. They don't check my document for content or correctness, just watch me sign and check my face against my passport photo.

Well, in Italy being a Notary is a full time job, not one small portion of the total job description, and they share offices with lawyers. I'm certain it involves an armada of stamps in varying sizes, colors and degrees of importance in addition to the stamp I'll still probably have to buy at a tobacco shop (not the PO). It requires an appointment and the cost is 100euro. Yikes. I mean, maybe there's more to this notary business than I understand, but mostly I see them verify my identity by looking at me and my passport (repeat twice,maybe that's where the cost comes in?) and stamp the document without caring what the document is.

In a true brain storm I checked online with the US Consulate. I still have to make an appointment but they only charge $50....with the caveat that Italian banks only accept bills in good condition so if you bring the equivalent in euros make sure they're pretty. I haven't been home long enough to attempt making an appointment....chances are even if it is the American Consulate it's in Italy and therefore fraught with danger and inexplicable rules, the first of which is probably that the appointment you make online isn't a slave to your schedule but to the Consulate's. You get what you get (it's all online and I'm afraid to go too far into the process and end up with an appointment I can't keep) and rearrange your schedule around it. So I'm waiting till after I get home next week to even attempt to make an appointment.

I'd like to think walking into the Consulate here is like walking into any American government office. In other words, not exactly a visit to Disney World, but a place that follows understandable rules and works pretty straightforwardly. But I've heard rumors that it's staffed by Italians and therefore I shouldn't be surprised by strange requests and unwritten rules and generally feeling like I should feel comfortable but somehow just don't.

I'll be sure to take excellent notes in case anything truly exciting or note worthy happens. For me, of course, the truly exciting thing would be for everything to go smoothly....they verify that I am in fact me, I sign my document, stamp stamp stamp, pay my $50 and head home for a well deserved and stiff drink.

A girl can dream. Right?

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