Monday, October 31, 2011

What a freaking day!

Do you ever feel like you are having one of those days where the devil is messing with you?  I mean seriously, Murphy is barking up your tree and you can't even get frustrated enough to cry?  That was my morning.  Big R has a busy week in court and of course not a single day in court is here, so today was my day to have the car.  I wanted to be productive and take care of things that got way-laid last week.

Let me back up... when I attended my awesome PEP course a couple weeks ago, I found out that we really shouldn't be traveling outside of Germany right now because we are missing two critical pieces of information.  One, very, VERY critical piece is a tourist passport for little r.  Don't even get me started on that one.  Yes, of course he has a passport, but it is what the Army likes to call a "no fee" passport, which is apparently akin to a VISA.  Tells the German government that we are living here and not just passing through on a "visit."  When I went through the process of obtaining a "no fee" passport for little r and myself, I was told explicitly NOT to get a tourist passport.  Misinformation is too much fun, isn't it?  Luckily, Big R and I have our tourist passports, so this only involves little r.  Yeah, I say "only" like it's a no biggie deal and who cares if the polizia in Italy could have put him in containment for not legally traveling. YIKES! Yes, I consider this a VERY big deal, and I'm not taking any chances leaving Germany until we get this issue resolved no matter how many people tell me passports won't be checked.  You're talking about my kid here, so I'm playing it safe...

The other critical piece of information I became aware of is that Big R and I need an International Driver's License to drive outside of Germany.  Well, let me clarify that...we need the international license to drive in non-USEURA countries, which includes all but Germany, Italy, and Belgium.  Whoops! There we go again breaking the rules (albeit unintentionally, but breaking them nonetheless) when we did our big trip to Italy.  Needless to say, at least one of us needs to be legal if we plan on driving outside of Germany.  It would help keep us out of trouble...

Ok, so back to my crazy day.  I had plans to get these things taken care of. You see, the Army operates on its own language, and by that I'm not necessarily referring to the acronyms (although that IS a language in and of itself), but instead I'm referring to this nonchalant language and attitude that life is easy, that office is located just next door, go talk to so and so and it'll be taken care of, just see the blankety blank office and you'll get that ID, blah blah.  I swear, it's NEVER as easy as they say it is.  Let me clarify, it really IS easy, but there are multiple steps, required documents, office and walk in hours that are only posted in the office, websites that are not user friendly, and "just next door" or "right across the street" is typically at least a quarter mile away.  (Man, am I complaining today or what?!)

So, last week I tried to get these processes taken care of.  What I did instead was get them started.  First, I got the needed passport pictures for little r and me, mine for the license and his for his passport.  At least that was one requirement that I was given a heads up on.  Next, I was informed that I go to the Drivers license office on Post and they will issue my license.  It's true, they START the process, but then you fill out a form in German, get it signed by the representative, then take that signed form to downtown Bamberg, find the room for your license, fill out more paperwork and provide your license, passport, a passport photo, oh and PROOF OF YOUR RESIDENCE (seriously people, no one ever tells you everything you need).  Luckily I had a bill from our internet company (that leads us to the bigger reason my day was crazy), and the representative kindly took that as proof even though it didn't have my name anywhere on the bill.  The lady hated me, too, because little r decided this was an appropriate place to have a complete meltdown.  She was annoyed with me and irritated that I couldn't speak German.  Sorry lady... little r was having a rough day, too, and this is why...

We dropped Big R off at the office and I headed to the bank to get some information. Apparently the bank information that we provided to Kabel Deutschland did not work for the first two months, and we received a 7-day notice from them that if we didn't pay TODAY they were halting our service for a huge fee.  ugh.  They don't use personal checks here in Germany.  Not sure why that is, just trust me on this one, but instead, you give your bank information to everyone or set up automatic payments.  I found out it takes 3-5 business days for the bank to send the payment.  double ugh.  Armed with the proper routing number, I headed to the activity center to use the computers and let little r play.  He did great, mostly because he found a buddy right away and was having a ball.  The computer effort failed.  The company website still didn't like the number, so I was going to have to call them and muddle through my horrible German to pray they don't turn our service off (especially knowing the bank wouldn't get payment to them until the end of the week) - this quickly became my only option.

I try really hard with German, I really, really do, but it's still horrible.  I was going to give it a go and pray that something that came out of my mouth would give the rep on the phone a clue as to what I needed.  I was on hold for over 20 minutes and decided this was a task for the naptime hour.  So, we headed to the passport office, which, by the way, is only open from 10-1145 a.m. each day and only on a walk-in basis.  I needed just general information that the computer told me I could only get from the passport guy.  The wait was a minimum of 40 minutes. ugh. We would never last in a hallway waiting for that long... A nasty dirty diaper later, and we were out the door.  I was determined to get something taken care of today, so that's when we ended up at the Landstamt in downtown Bamberg to get my license.  Despite the lady hating me, I somehow left the Landstamt with my international drivers license. Oh yay, I'm finally legal...

License in hand, and little r happily munching on a tasty roll from a nearby market, and I decided to try the passport office again.  Glad I did because there wasn't a soul there.  We got the information we needed, and I made a note to myself to bring Big R back for the final paperwork (all parents have to be present for a minor's passport, fun, eh?) right before closing time.

Tossed the kid back in the car, made him go straight to a nap (he's still pissed at me), and started writing out translations in an attempt to speak to someone at Kabel Deutschland.  Numerous attempts of me butchering the German language, and then 40 minutes on hold, and I finally talked to the right representative that at least understood not only what I needed but that an English speaking rep would be far more useful.  Not 5 minutes later and I was on the phone with a wonderful woman that speaks excellent English.  Our account is fixed, our internet is not going to be shut off, and we just gave a German company free access to our bank account (and this is something I'm elated about, what is the world coming to?!).

The afternoon promises to be full of fun, little ones in cute costumes, and lots of candy.  Now I just have to come up with a cute costume for little r before he wakes up and get chilli on the stove so that we have something to eat when we all get home tonight.  All in all, the day might just end up ok, but holy mackerel, right now all I need is yoga, comfort food, and a glass of wine.  It could be worse, it could be snowing right now :)


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