Friday, November 17, 2006

The Cat de Sejour: Part the Second

When last we saw our intrepid duo, they were no longer in search of their cartes de sejour (having given up for the day like the half-assed bounders they are) and were off in search of liquor. Alcohol is imbibed, the sun sets, the moon rises, the sun rises, and presumably the moon buggers off somewhere.

To resume our story ...

The next day, again fully confident (there's that C word) that we are in full possession of all the necessary documents, we go downtown to the Préfecture de Police. Since my last visit, the police station had obviously received its Living in a Post 9-11 World brochure, and had installed a metal detector. Mr. CinR and I walk through the gate, setting off all the pretty lights, alarms & whistles, and, just like at Mohammed V Airport, are politely waved through by the 3 guards whose chat we had just interrupted. Perhaps the security zealots, say, at Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport, may wish to offer a few seminar courses in comprehensive metal detection.

At the far end of the room - where the new cartes de sejour are processed - sit two Pleasant-looking Young Women. An excellent sign! At the renewal area sits no one. We approach the Pleasant-looking Young Women and indicate the purpose of our visit. One happily assists Mr. CinR while the other helps me with my renewal. This is going so well! My Pleasant-looking Young Woman speaks fair English and is eager to practise her skills to which I have no objection because I am loathe to expose myself as the Franco-Arabic-speaking retard that I am. She looks through the vast pile of paperwork and withdraws 75% of my forms. They are apparently unnecessary since I am only renewing my card. How I wish someone would have told me this beforehand. Then she rustles through them again and asks where the photocopy of my current carte de sejour is. I hadn't been advised of its necessity and briefly panic.

"Authenticated?" I ask with not a little trepidation.
"No, copy only."

Because Mr. CinR's Pleasant-looking Young Woman is barely halfway through his pile - and I am a lazy selfish wife - I toss my card at him along with a few dirhams and, through the office window, direct his gaze to the photocopier's situated across the street. I consider adding a chop! chop! to my request but think better of it. Unbelievably, he obligingly trots off. A few moments later he returns, brandishing the photocopy.

Huzzah! This is going well!


My blood freezes. Mr. CinR's Pleasant-looking Young Woman has encountered a problem. She has found the document that I prepared confirming that Mr. CinR & I are legally wedded and that we reside at the domicile on whose lease only my name appears. I dive over the counter and extricate the copies of our authenticated wedding licence from the stack of papers. I toss in a feverish regardez! regardez! and wave the sheet in her face in as non-aggressive but clearly desperate manner as possible. She confers with my Pleasant-looking Young Woman and they agree that the document is acceptable but my signature must be authenticated.

I blink.

C'est moi! I try (futiley I might add). I show her my passport & my current carte de sejour: 2 rather official government-type documents which are graced with an unbecoming photo of me and my signature. Nope, we have to go back to the police station and have it authenticated. My
Pleasant-looking Young Woman advises me to have one copy prepared for my file as well. Good plan. She also advises us to hurry as they close in an hour.

We pop back to the photocopier's then grab a cab uptown. Within moments we're back in the Land With No French Signs but dutifuly & hopefully return to the photocopie room. Approaching the same Nice Male Employee as last time, I am waved to a new counter, the signature counter where a fight has recently erupted between those waiting "in line" and the one Possibly-Nice Male Employee behind the counter. Peeved, he disappears to have a languorous smoke. When he returns, he is surprised to find that cooler heads have not prevailed and Round 2 begins. He looks at me for support and I smile. One woman storms out. He smiles back. He reaches for my signature much to the displeasure of the others who have stormed the counter. Huzzah! He checks my documents and asks me to sign my name in a massive tome filled with the signatures of every Moroccan who has ever lived. I am given a chit and Mr. CinR and I repair to the pick-up room. Frazzled Woman is still there (and still frazzled) and she grudgingly acknowledges me. Moments later, Definitely-
Nice Male Employee pops into the room to hand-deliver my signature sheets.

We race for the door where, rather auspiciously, a cab awaits. Within minutes we are back in front of our
Pleasant-looking Young Women. Mr. CinR's Pleasant-looking Young Woman is busy processing a national identity card for an individual of rather negroid complexion but when she sees Mr. CinR, she is happy to brush aside her compatriot to assist my husband. Moroccans tell me that there is no racism here. Of course not. As she goes through CinR's wad of papers for the third time, she asks for his Fiche d’Immatriculation cards. Our employer failed to provide us with them but no problem, can we not fill them out here?

She looks under her desk pad, makes a few cursory forays into the drawers of her desk, and announces that she hasn't any. "Can you get some?" I ask. Is this an unreasonable request? This is, after all, the issuing office for the cards in question. She calls over to my
Pleasant-looking Young Woman but she doesn't have any either. A mildly heated exchange ensues (although to be fair, they could have been talking about last night's Star Academy results) at the completion of which Mr. CinR's Pleasant-looking Young Women finally picks up the phone and barks something into the receiver. We sit and smile. We watch the hands of the clock draw closer & closer to closing time.

At this point, the small son of the discarded Moroccan (who has been patiently waiting to have his turn reinstated) charges past the 3 security guards
whose chat he interrupts into the inner sanctum of the Préfecture. There is much laughter & frivolity (Moroccans dote on children) as the boy is finally retrieved from this bureaucratic holy of holies, possibly with state secrets strapped to his stomach. I have no doubt that his father would have been shot on sight.

Ten minutes later, an Unpleasant-looking Young Woman - clearly put out by having to perform some work-related duty - enters the office with the cards. In his haste to complete the tasks at hand, Mr. CinR bayonets himself with the needle nib of my pen, producing a prodigious geyser of blood. I remind him that his tetanus shot is up to date, fish out a grotty grocery store receipt from the bottom of my purse to use as a bandage, and urge him to finish up. Perhaps not surprisingly, nursing was never an attractive career option to me.

One last signature and we are done! Huzzah! Now we must leave our paperwork to the Moroccan God of Bureaucracy (which must be Allah for there is only one god) and hope for the best. We are issued no receipts; in 24 hours, we may return for temporary cards. So efficient is The System here, that Morocco can apparently run on the honour system. Suddenly, I remember to ask for my carte de sejour. My Pleasant-looking Young Woman cannot give it to me - it must remain in my application file. "But you have the photocopy!" I remonstrate. I need my
carte de sejour so that I can pop off to the bank to exchange money.

I leave without my card.

But hope springs eternal - no worries, I have a bank card. After all, you can't even open a bank account in Morocco unless you possess a
carte de sejour. Off we go to the bank. What could possibly go wrong?

Stay tuned for final instalment of "the Cat de Sejour".

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