It's the time of year when we should renew our bus passes. There's an exciting new system where one can book online at the nearest public transport office and have a quick hassle free experience where one's new card is produced within a few minutes. I booked online for both myself and my daughter and we arranged to meet well in time for our appointment.
Well to start with there was a queue, which is OK really. I've learnt in life that one has to keep one's expectations as low as possible especially when it comes to bureaucratic procedures involving government or non profit making institutions. I love queues in places like Istanbul, people talk together, complain together and generally share the stress and irritation of being left waiting. My time came within a mere fifteen minutes of waiting, reasonable by any standards, however, then we hit the foreigner problem. Whether one is buying a car or registering at a hospital being a foreigner introduces a completely different level of bureaucracy. Added to this, the poor person who is supposed to be serving you can suffer an anxiety attack as they grapple with a system which is understandably not geared to serving the tiny minority of foreigners living in the city who are eligible for a bus pass, and are crazy enough to go through the pain of trying to obtain one.
Suffice to say it took a long time for him to work out that it just couldn't be done for me! I had one irrate member of the queue pleading with me to go and come back another day and let the rest of the waiting masses get on with what should be a quick and painless procedure. I apologised to the whole queue a number of times and sarcastically mentioned that next time I'd bring a letter from the Prime Minister which should do the trick.
In the end I have to say that I can probably afford not to use a teacher's bus pass and I'll survive. It's all good fun. Next appointment will be the annual car road test... watch this space.