Americans tend to view Spanish bureaucracy with a measurable degree of suspicion, and if you have ever tried to work through certain channels, the sentiment is entirely understandable. One friend of mine just had her request for a new visa rejected because the application was not handed in on time. Here’s the thing:
1) No time limit was ever given
2) The reason her application could have been considered late at all, if that is what they say, was that they sent her on a wild goose chase for about two weeks to three different offices, the last of which just accepted the chunk of papers in her hands without even looking at them and said, “We’ll write you.”
They did. To say no.
I can also attest to this feeling of frustration when I got my teacher’s degree here. Three and a half years of ahhhhhh! It has merited its own book, which I am still working on. It’s turning into something as long and painful as the process itself.
In any event, there are examples of how the inner-workings of dealing with Spanish red tape can turn out to be delightfully efficient. I had made a promise to myself never to use the word “delightful” as a description of anything related to a ministerial procedure, but I guess everyone has their weaknesses.
Effective service has become especially true if you are a Spaniard and are trying to obtain some kind of legal document. In those cases, this country is topnotch. Getting your passport, for example, can be done on the spot, in fifteen minutes flat. Please take note of that American Embassy. The same goes for the national ID card.
Before, renewing a driver’s license was a real drag because you had to go all the way up to Arturo Soria Street, nearly on the outskirts of town, and camp out for a few days while you slowly approached the window. You had to have the usual papers and copies in triplicate to present, as well as a handful of those all-important ID photos you had to have taken at the local automated photo machine. And, of course, there was the medical check-up, which I will get to. The process was so cumbersome that you came to understand why the license was good for ten years, as it was just about the time needed to recover psychologically from post-traumatic syndrome.
But even in this category, things have brightened considerably. I could detect something was up last year when I had to ask for a duplicate of my license thinking I had lost the original (it showed up in some hidden chamber of forgotten and forsaken objects which I had buried in my apartment), and I noticed that I was basically the only person there. Let me explain: I was basically the only STUPID person there. In a sense, it was a good thing because I didn’t have to wait in any lines, but the humongous deserted, almost soviet-atmosphered, room made me wonder that something was up that I hadn’t been clued in on.
Now I know why. You see, the government, in an apparent attempt to expedite all the motions, has, since 2010, relegated and delegated the responsibility to the medical centers where you have your check-ups, the rationale being that it can all be done online.
And you know what? They are right. Who needs to have an office filled with pissed-off customers unless you enjoy watching others suffer? Through the system, you don’t have to deal with them and they don’t have to deal with you. A win-win situation.
That’s how it was expressed in the letter that the Spanish DMV sent to me days before. I could go to their offices, Lol, but I could also get it all done in the comfort of nearly my living room. I checked online and found one clinic located just down the street. It wasn’t my couch, but it was the next best thing.