this afternoon Ayva and i headed down to the préfecture (i've written about this place a couple of other times. this particular entry is a bit long. it's mostly just to keep the family up to date). the "excitement" of last time, was never realized as my récipissé was again about to become invalid. grrr. if that happens then that means our medical benefits cease also and that would be bad, very bad. i have finally figured out that if i go in the late afternoon about an hour or less before they close, i can sneak my way into being able to see someone. i say sneak because they tell everyone that they are only allowed to hand out 40 tickets per day, 30 stinking early in the morning and 10 right after le sieste. however, if at the end of the day they are finished with the ticketed people, they will often consent to seeing more people. this hasn't worked for me every time, but more often than not it has.
so today i waited in line with Ayva hoping and praying that i would be able to get this all taken care of today and not have to come again until i got the notice in the mail that my card was there. a little boy a few people ahead of us was quite taken with Ayva. he did not like her name however and told his mom that he thinks the baby should be named, limace. thankfully i had learned that word a few weeks previously with Laetitia. it means slug, but i don't know why he called her that as she wasn't even drooling. maybe just because he was 5. everyone in line had a good laugh about it though.
finally i got to the bulldog lady/gatekeeper and told her what i wanted. she cranked her head around to see if there was a line of foreigners waiting, paperwork in hand. thankfully there wasn't and so she sent me over, but without a ticket.
the man who received me this time was the same from my very first time back in September 2005 when he called me la cerise sur le gâteau (i'm too lazy to find that link). i explained to him my situation, that this was the second time my récipissé had been issued and expired without me receiving the letter telling me to come pick up my card. a typical Corsican, he started mumbling in a mixture of French and Corsican to no one in particular. he messed around looking at something on his computer screen, flipped through some paperwork, found info on me, then he asked me for my old card and récipissé. i asked him if he knew what the problem was. he very seriously said, "yes, i know the problem, but i can't tell you." i couldn't tell if he was joking along the lines of if i told you i'd have to kill you or if he really couldn't tell me. i decided he was joking because when i looked down, i saw that he had my new card!
he told me i had to pass sans ticket to go buy my stamps that pay for the card. i swear in this regard, and well in a lot of other areas too, France is so backwards (perhaps there is some rhyme or reason, but it just seems silly to me). you have to buy stamps, actual stamps like this one, that are then used to buy the card. and at 70 euros they are really expensive stamps! the last time i renewed my CDS i had to pay 55 euros for the stamps and i had to pay in cash. as i had no idea i would be able to pick up my card today, i didn't stop at the bank to get some cash out. with a sinking feeling i approached the window and explained to the lady the situation, that i needed to buy the stamps, but didn't have a ticket, etc. she told me to wait to the side and then she would help me. after a couple of minutes she called me over and i gave her my bank card and she asked me if i was sure i wanted to buy them because she can't refund my money once it goes through. i replied that i was very sure as i had just seen my card. the transaction went through and all of a sudden the lady cried out "putain de merde!" while many people say that, it's really crude and you never hear that in polite circles, let alone a government office. the problem was exactly as i feared...i was supposed to pay in cash. the lady almost started crying as she was telling me she was new at her post, and i had flustered her coming without a ticket, and now she had to call her supervisor. i did feel bad, but hoped everything would work in my favor so i wouldn't have to come back. and it did! the supervisor came and let me have my two stamps worth 70 euros.
so i returned to the cherry man, who with an unlit cigarette hanging off the side of his mouth, had just come from the back room area. he was laughing about how i had gotten away with paying with my bank card. in my defense, i told him that she didn't say anything and had let me. then he made some comment about how we were pulling one of over on the government, heh, heh. i guess it's a law put in place by the treasury department that you must pay by cash for the stamps. that certainly wasn't my goal, but at least the guy got a good laugh out of it. then he gave me my card! it's good until 2016!! not 2017 as my old card actually expired in November. such a saga, but at least it's over for a long time. unless i decide to apply for French citizenship, however for that i'll get to meet a new set of crazy people as it's handled at le palais de justice.