Being a polite human being, my husband asks me every evening: “So how was your day?” There are days, when I just can chat away about my job (students can be funny!), our pets (dogs and cats can be funny!), Skype conversations with my friends (friends can be funny!), but then there are those days when I seem to have only dealt with Mexican bureaucracy (Mexican bureaucracy is not funny!). And not even sensational, big bureaucracy. Like: I almost got deported today, since they found out I am not a guy! (Yes, it said “hombre” first in my visa. So much for short hair.) No, it is the petty everyday bureaucracy that sometimes just kills me. Or makes me want to kill myself.
We are living in a fenced-in community, and if you want to leave or to enter, there are two lanes: one for visitors, the other one for residents. Last October, they installed electronic gate openers which seemed like a pretty smart idea given that sometimes, depending on the mental abilities of each security guard, you had to wait several minutes for them to let you in or out.
So those electronic thingies were in place. What now? – Let’s think about that manana, shall we? In January then, we got a letter telling us that we could get some electronic devices for our cars at the administration office, however, no pressure no fun, we had to pick them up within three days. Since I had booked a flight to Seattle for the second day of this undertaking, I went there right on the first day – only to find out that they were not ready yet, and would I please return in the evening. Of course. So in the evening, I got a funny little card because since we are only renters, they thought it would make no sense to install anything in our car. Well, never mind, I put that card behind the windshield…and got stopped every time I passed the barrier. Nobody knew what the card was, but anyway, those electronic fences didn’t work yet.
Later, the card managed to disappear behind the dashboard, and nobody ever asked for it again. This month all of a sudden, they finally inaugurated the electronic fences. This time without warning. So if you drove up to the usual gate, it wouldn’t open and the security guards would stand there smirking and make you drive backwards and queue up in the visitor line. It was total chaos! Horns were honked, heads turned red, fists got shaken – all of a sudden, this part of Mexico became as dangerous as everybody seems to believe!
So back I went to the administration office to explain them that my card had slipped behind the dashboard. I was in a queue with five people who were all attended at the same time. Now, they usually have EVERYTHING on file there, but different matters, different files, so whenever you go, you have to present the same documents again. And they make copies of your passport, your visa, your resident ID, a proof of residence, a proof that you have no debts towards the community and of course, whatever form you have to fill out. And now there were three girls attending to five annoyed residents, the copier was running hot, and the paper was piling up, until nobody could remember where she put what.
Surprisingly, it only took me 40 minutes to finally walk away with an electronic gate opener. Proudly, I made my way to the fence and oops, it didn’t work. They installed it in a way that you have to drive in a slalom through the barrier. Not the easiest thing to do. But that doesn’t really matter, for after a couple of days, the fences stopped working anyway. When I come to think of it: Bureaucracy can be fun!