Today I went to the Prefecture de Police (police dept) to get my Recipisse to get my Carte de Sejour. The Recipisse (sounds like recipe) is a piece of paper you have as a temporary document between the valid Carte de Sejours, which are 1 year each.
7:45 AM - left the apartment. Metro #9 to Miromesnil, change to Metro #13 to Place de Clichy. Walk 10 mins.
8:16 AM - arrive at the Prefecture where there are already well over 60 people.
Someone tells me, "you just arrived? you have to sign up on the list. Go see the woman in blue."
I see an older woman in a blue dress who when she sees me approaching, waves a ragged piece of checkerboard paper at me. (Standard French note paper isn't lined like American paper, it has a small checkerboard pattern.) I am already #57 on the list.
8:37 AM - people start milling towards the front so everyone gets anxious and also start standing up, lining up. One younger man in a purple shirt and black sweater says, "there is a list! there is a list!" So another man begins organizing and calling out names. People wait patiently as their name is called and generally fall into place accordingly. (We are in France after all, where "line" is a general concept; and we are dealing with people from many other cultures as well.)
9:08 AM - a young female cop comes out and announces, "THERE IS NO LIST! Every day I come here and there is a list. I am sick and tired each time I come here! There is no list!"
9:09 AM - we begin moving!
9:15 AM - the cop comes outside on her telephone and leaves. She comes back with boxes of crackers and cookies. I guess the waiting room is at capacity so we must wait outside.
10:13 AM - four more people get in, including a man who cuts-the-line! :( He shuffled past a few peple behind me and then me. A man behind me says several times, "what would you like? there is a line. " He ignores him and continues shuffling to the front, hoping we will forget about him and that he'll just blend in with the rest of us. arghhhh.
10:30 AM - A woman comes up to the front a few times and peers into the Exit door. Then she comes back up with her daughter. She stands right in front of the Exit door. A man in a wheelchair is exiting and she grabs her stroller with two hands and pushes in through the exit into the waiting area. She SNEAKS in past the cop. She gets her ticket. The few of us at the door look at each other shaking our heads and sighing.
10:35 AM - I finally get inside! I push the button on the "distributor" to get my ticket ("take a number") and find a seat. I glare with disapproving looks at the woman-line-cutter, and when I can find him, the man-line-cutter. (so there!) I am "R16."
[The numbers go 0xx for new Carte de Sejour and Rxx for Renouvelement (renewing) Carte de Sejour. It is at 022 and R13 when I arrive.]
10:52 AM - a man who was before me taps me on the shoulder and asks me what my number is. I tell him. He gives me his #ticket because he took his in error. Bonus! I am next!
11:06 AM - Me! I go upstairs to find "Guichet 11" (ticket window/office 11). The woman doesn't like that I have waited so long to get my Recipisse. oops. And I don't have a "facture" (bill) as recent as she would like. I take a deep breath and remember that I will get my Recipisse today. She cannot deny me the Recipisse. I just need to stay calm and it will all work out. It does. I get my Recipisse.
11:18 AM - I leave the Prefecture de Police Centre des Etrangers. [Before I left I went to tell the cop that there was no more toilette paper in the bathroom. (She was the only person there other than the cashier, who was busy.) She looks at me and says, "so?" So I look back and just said, "Good bye" and then she said, "Oh" and started calling someone to fix the situation. [Man-oh-man! She could care less. And so could I as I was leaving. I guess she didn't think it was her problem, until she realized it probably would become her problem later.]
12:15 PM - Back at home to my darling husband and adorable son. We had lunch.