Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Diving Deep into the Depths of Dumb

I finally did it.  A) Got married (Back in 2013. Yay me!), B) Boarded the bureaucratic slippery slalom slope known as European Residency.  Why not.  I've lived in Europe off-and-on for decades, never wanting to fully commit.  Always feeling daring not doing the paperwork.  Bureaucracy is for suckers, I've always said.  Sure, I knew that it would be a colossal waste of time (hence entire empires built on easy immigration for the right price, mostly for yuppie scummery and the like). The rest of us have to take our chances with the riffraff.  And by riffraff, I don't mean the unwashed hordes of Syrians pushing their way into the bowels of Europa, forcing her to slam her doors shut tighter than a frog's asshole (and that shit's watertight. Word.).  I mean the bureaucrats themselves.  It's refreshing to note that all the stereotypes about bureaucrats in the States ring true here as well: a finer class of classless idiots I have never seen. I had no idea this slalom course would be so fraught with idiocy, incompetence and downright ty-volery.

Firstly: all of your research and preparation is for naught.  They will find a problem with a semicolon in your rental contract and jam it up your actual colon.  And then you won't have enough passport photos.  And they won't be the correct size.  And in your picture, your shirt won't have a collar.  And you'll be smiling.  This is serious fucking business.  Do not smile.  I expected all of this, and as I am generally free several days a week in the winter, I just decided to dive into the depths of dumb and see how just long I could hold my breath.  I started the process before Christmas.  It is nearly Easter and  I have still not found that hidden Easter egg known as zee papers.  Jesus H. Lapdancing Christ. I shouldn't have started this process anywhere near Christian holidays in an atheist country.  I've been back several times, each time with more and more and more and...

Why won't they give me zee fucking papers?  Yes, I'm a gawd damned Yank whose ancestors fled the dark ages of Europa and finally settled into the deserts of Central California.  But I'm married to a Eurobabe!  This should be easy-peasy, right?  Nope. Apparently, there's a problem: I'm Japanese.  I know.  Who knew?  Well, THEY did.  The fine collectors of all my precious documents, upon closely inspecting all of them, decided in their infinite wisdom that I am in fact a Japanese citizen.  I even have a certified letter stating this fact clearly.  Even though they have copies of my U.S. Passport, marriage certificate, yadayadayada, they 'somehow' confused me with a person of Japanese persuasion.  I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so.

'Dear Mr. Robinskon.' 

RobinSKON?  Really?  Even if you started your day in typical old school Czech style with a six pack of beer and a bag of hot dogs for breakfast, you couldn't possibly think that 'Robinskon' is a Japanese name.

'There is a problem with your doorbell, so the foreigner police could not surprise you with a random visit, the aim of which was to enter your flat and ransack the dump, see if your wife is not just a cleverly-made-up blow-up doll—and to look for Syrian refugees.  Please correct this oversight immediately or we will not be able to process your application for residency.  And BTW: you're fuckin' Japanese. We really think so.

Sincerely, Your Immigration Tards.'

Well.  I beg to differ.  I have never been to Japan in my entire life and I hate sushi.  I am whiter than a yeti in a snowstorm—fighting Tilda Swinton.  Not to mention that I'm 6 foot 5 inches and 280 pounds. They don't make Japanese folks with such proportions.  Even the sumo wrestlers are short.  My Immigration Tards even gave me a deadline to correct all of my architectural and racial issues.  They must be satisfied by April 18, so I called them for the earliest appointment.  The kindly tard on the phone said that the earliest appointment was April 20.  Naturally.  Such is the nature of the tardbeast.   A late appointment would not do. So I rolled up my considerably long sleeves, grabbed the reams of zee papers issued to me thus far, and headed down to the office for the fourth time to sit in the line for a full day with the rest of the unwashed foreign hordes.  At this point, the security guard should give me a high five.

At the entrance to the Tardis, I showed my letter to the man in the booth.  I pointed out the sentence in the certified letter where it declares in no uncertain terms that I am certainly Japanese.  The man and the booth could not possibly be an actual bureaucrat, because he cracked a smile.  Then he looked me up and down, checked the letter again and declared "Well, obviously this is some kind of mistake. It even says here that they recorded your U.S. Passport number and I.D."


"So just go upstairs with the corrected information and and wait for your number to be called."

By 'corrected information' he meant my new flat and rental contract—and my honky white ass, to prove once and for all that I'm not Japanese.  I didn't have the stones to tell the man that my 'new' flat has a doorbell system from the dark ages, and that there would be no chance—yet again—for the foreigner police to ransack the dump in search of blow up dolls and Syrians.  That's ok. They would find that out soon enough.  And they'll make me come back.

Upon climbing my way out of the Depths of Dumb, I thought about something else the very non-bureaucratic sentinel at the gates of the Tardis told me:

"You're not Japanese."


"This is some kind of mistake.  You could complain."  Then he handed me a small strip of paper with an email address and a phone number.

Complain?  Ninja please.  I've got the biggest complaint form in the whole wide world.

It's called my blog.


Stayed tuned!  Will Big Sir be shipped off to Japan and forced to eat seaweed? 
Or will he finally be given the right to live in peace with his Eurobabe in their substandard, rusty-doorbell-adorned dump in the industrial suburbs of Prague?


peevers said...

Brilliant yet again! I hope all the dark clouds will soon lift and you can back to what you're best. Beer anyone?

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Is this for real? Okay, you do have slightly slanted eyes, but those came from the Robinson side of the family...and they are definitely not Japanese...LOL.

Oops, that was a mean thing to say, right?

But now I can't wait to find out what will persuade those bureau-tards of their error.

Craig Robinson said...

I need dark clouds and beer in equal measure to write. I was laughing to myself as I wrote this, thinking about how lucky I was that someone thought I was Japanese, put it in writing, and released the dogs of blog. Thanks for the comment. And thanks to the universe for the inspirational absurdity.

- Big Sir

Craig Robinson said...

Yeah, my eyes are slightly slanted. There must have been an Asian in the woodpile somewhere in my ancestry. And yes, this is FOR REAL. The snapshot of the actual document says 'Robinskon, Craig, born 17th of Nov, 1966, a national of Japan.' You can't make this kind of shit up! LOL. Thanks for the comment.

- Big Sir

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have enjoyed reading your posts about living in Berlin and now Prague over the years. I am a US citizen living in the US. I have worked in Germany and Austria for one year each. I was in Muenster teaching ESL with Berlitz and in Salzburg being a RA at an international school. On both occasions my visa only allowed me to earn money from the employer who brought me over from the US and I was not allowed to earn money from anyone else. Recently lots of HR people based in Germany and Austria told me they prefer to hire EU citizens over US citizens because it is less hassle/paperwork for them.
Most of my friends from the US who are currently living in Europe are only able to pull this off because they are married to a EU citizen. Do you feel it is harder for a US citizen (say a college grad who went to a liberal arts college) to legally find work in Europe in 2017 compared to 10 years ago? Chris

Craig Robinson said...

Hi Chris. Thanks for your comment. Germany and Britain are notorious for draconian immigration policies. I've lived in both countries, and let's just say there are an awful lot of people who are "professional, freelance students" in those countries. When I arrived in Czech in 1997, all you had to do to get a job with double the pay of the locals was to have an English-speaking tongue flopping around in your mouth. Since their entry into the EU in 2004, they started treating Americans like bastard stepchildren, just like the rest of the EU Members Only Club. If you want to teach English as an American living in Prague, most language schools now require a TEFL certificate and/or University teaching credentials and experience. Or they ask you to have a freelance trade license, which is another can of worms to open. In Czech, having a trade license means feeding the state a MINIMUM of 4,000 CZK per month every month to cover taxes and health insurance, EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO PROFIT. As a victim of a liberal arts education myself (photography, film, writing, etc.), I find it very hard to make money in Europe, even being married to a European. But if you have a tech degree / skills, they're grease the wheels and practically install you in a luxury flat, all expenses paid. All I've discovered in my years of living in Europe as an American is this: the more discriminatory laws Europe makes, the bigger the black market job market becomes. Where there is a will, there is a way. Have a look at expats.cz jobs pages to get an idea of who is hiring here in Prague. Happy trails...

- Big Sir