“Don’t you have any Italian document?” he asks me.
I hand over a couple of pieces of paper – one is the original codice fiscale document (a little like the National Insurance number in the UK – I only have the document because the card never came) and the health document which I renewed two days ago.
These are, apparently, not really what he wants. He grabs for my passport (which I had given to him and why he asked the original question) and opens it again.
“I need a photocopy,” he states.
“I don’t have a photocopy,” I reply.
“I need a photocopy,” he states again. I feel somewhat exasperated. I suspect this is the end of the whole deal. I am now prepared to walk away and forget the whole thing. Perhaps he can sense this?
Of course, it hadn’t really started that well from the time I got into the room. There were two “ladies” at reception. I say “ladies” when, in fact, they were there to obfuscate.
“I need to change my address,” I say.
Well, to be honest, I really don’t know what to say. The reason “why” is not that clear. It is, really, because, two days ago, when I renewed my health card, I explained that I had never received the card. The “Mrs Bucket”, who was actually very nice (apparently, she had a daughter-in-law whose mother was English and she came from the next town to where I work – so she was coming into Milan to work as I was going out to work!, which she seemed to like.) She had explained that, even though they had a note of my address (both the old and now new) on THEIR computer system, the address the card was sent to was the one on the computer system that held the “living at” address. Being a different system (even though the two systems were connected) meant dealing with a different governmental department in a different building in a completely different part of town.
We are in Italy.
So, back to this morning. I tried to explain that the lady at the Health Department had told me to come here to change my address.
“But, haven’t you changed it at the Council Offices,” she said or questioned (but it seemed more of an order, to be honest.)
“No,” was my simple answer. Did she not understand that I was British and stubborn and absolutely, completely, utterly fed up with this Italian need to do this bureaucracy stuff?
She did some sort of huge sigh, without actually sighing. He whole body seemed to let out air as if she were a tyre with a huge puncture – but just for a moment before it all seemed to come back in again. She gave me a form and a ticket.
I guessed that I needed to fill in the form, which I did. I waited for my number to come up. I went to the cubicle number 7, as instructed. I smiled at the guy.
I waited for a few seconds for him to speak; to offer me a chair; something.
I went to sit down.
“Tell me,” he said. That’s not as bad as it seems as this is often the “greeting” in Italy. It’s not as rude as it seems. They don’t really DO a “Good morning, how can I help you?” with a smile so broad they look like they’re auditioning to be one of those synchronised swimmers.
I gave him my filled in form saying that I needed to change my address because the lady at the Health Office had told me I needed to do this.
He asked me for documentation and that’s when I gave him my passport and that’s where we came in at the beginning.
I have to be honest here – when I had filled in the form, I had, besides asking for them to change the address, also ticked the box for a replacement Health Card AND for a replacement Codice Fiscale Card. This was three things on one form and, as I was filling it in, I had a thought of coming across some lady clerk who was going to put red pen through two of the options and tell me that I needed a different form for each request.
He didn’t do this.
But, back to where we were. He had asked for a photocopy and I said i didn’t have one. He had asked again and I was on the verge of saying “Forget it!” and walking out.
“You can get a photocopy done just outside. I’ll wait here whilst you do it.” Suddenly, he seemed much nicer.
“It’s OK, you can leave your stuff here,” he suggests. He means, of course, the bits of paper.
I go to the photocopier. Some little old lady is photocopying a lot of things.
“Do you need just one,” she asks.
“Yes,” I reply.
She lets me interrupt her. I ask her for help as I do it as I know she will like it. She helps me. While we’re waiting for the photocopy to be done she asks if I’m German. I reply that I’m not but that I am English.
“Strange,” she says, “you sound as if you have a German accent.” I’m not sure what to say to this. I tell her that, no, I am properly English. I think her very much for letting me interrupt her photocopying to get my one copy.
I go back to the cubicle where the man has been typing stuff in to the computer. I give him the photocopy.
“It won’t work,” he says, alluding to the computer system. I don’t really understand what he’s talking about. But it seems he can’t order a replacement Codice Fiscale Card.
Then he works it out. He has to change my address first. Once he’s done that, everything is fine and everything can be done.
After all, it wasn’t too stressful. And I am more used to just saying “no” to them these days and finding that there is a way round it, after all!