People told me that renewing a permesso was a simple process, and so I entered into the foray with so much hope, and left realizing what a stupid little girl I am for forgetting just how bad the Italian system can be.
Friday, 25 July 2014: Poste Italiane Via Yser 4
I came to the realization that not only did I need my permesso for my continuing health coverage and tessera sanitaria (which I also have to renew), but I need a ‘valid’ residency in Rome to apply for things such as the Canadian visa I need this October. I also realized that in the end, I’d rather be frustrated trying for something and not getting it rather than not doing anything at all and regretting it later this year— just one facet of how confusing this Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate program truly is.
Thus realized, I headed to my trusty little post office at Via Yser.
I got a number, waited, got to the counter and showed Patrizia, the lady at the counter, my documents. She checked them— photocopy of passport and all marked pages, photocopy of old permesso, LUISS contract, a letter from LUISS stating that I am in fact a student, a letter from LUISS in lieu of a transcript stating that I passed at least one course. All good. Then she asked me how much I had to pay. My face went blank. Could I choose how much to pay…? My astonishment thus reflected, Patrizia told me she didn’t know either and directed me to the Centro Assistenza Fiscale office along Viale Regina Margherita to ask.
I walked to the CAF, thankfully quite near, found thanks to my trusty GPS. I waited in line for half an hour, and when I got to the lady there they didn’t know either and berated me for even coming to the office and asking such a question.
Thus abandoned, I decided to call Abby, my ever-patient lovely lifesaver in Rome. She set me and the boy up with our mobile provider when we first arrived last September, helped me with my internet, driver’s license, various translations, and she even was the source of my very first permesso di soggiorno yellow kit! Abby having just renewed her permesso herself informed me that we pay the ‘contributo’ of 27,50€. It was a good thing that I called her as I realized looking at the form from LUISS that they had ticked off the 107,50€ option, even though they knew I was renewing and not applying anew. This confusion sorted, I erased the LUISS tick, marked an x on the 27,50€ and headed back to the post office.
Got a new number, and waited. After another 45 minutes, there I was in front of Patrizia once more. She was happy that I ended up paying a quarter of the original ticked box, and honestly so was I! However, it was at that point that the entire postal system crashed. I wish I was making this up, but no. Their system froze and I could see the mouse pointer skipping around the screen accompanied by the continuous ting-ting-ting-ting of numbers being called. People were approaching the counter with their numbers and Patrizia was waving them away saying “è bloccato!” She then apologized to me and told me to return tomorrow morning, Sabato, “non fare la fila!” (don’t queue anymore). Patrizia was possibly the kindest, most understanding Italian desk person I’ve met so far. So I left, disappointed by the complexity, but happy to have met the kind person behind glass so far.
Saturday, 26 July 2014: Poste Italiane Via Yser 4
And I’m back. Even though Patrizia had told me not to queue, something in me couldn’t accept such a disregard for the rules so I got a number anyway. I was P007 and the last number was P006 so it wasn’t too bad an acquiesce to propriety.
I was called up, sadly not to Patrizia’s window but to the lady beside her with no name on her tag. This lady seemed to be having a bad day, throwing up her hands when she saw the distinctive yellow of the permesso envelope. I told her that I was here yesterday with Patrizia when the system crashed, and Patrizia looked over, said ciao, and apologized once more. Me being thus greeted by one of her colleagues, my window lady had no choice but to work on my papers.
And she had absolutely no idea what she was doing. It took half an hour of me standing there for her to set up my appointment in the system and to figure out which form was needed for postage. Finally, when everything was set up, she tried to print everything and it was at this point that the situation completely broke down. For some reason, the printer kept printing the codes and such on the top of the paper and not at the bottom, which blocked off the bar code (see photo). She tried this multiple times (see photo again) and eventually threw off her pink scarf, threw my papers to the floor, and started cursing. Beautiful.
Patrizia noticed the commotion— how could she not?— and tried to help, but something was definitely wrong with that printer. Another colleague then came to help, to no avail. The three ladies then called in the large, muscular guy who hangs around the post office doing heavy jobs and he took out the printer and replaced it with someone else’s. These experiments and the replacement took another half hour, all the while the other people in the post office were growing irritated. The new printer did the job though and then voila! Step 1 of my permesso renewal, done and Step 2 at the Questura di Roma awaits.
(There is a chance they make me pay 80€ more at the questura, I’m getting conflicting reports from fellow international students— some were made to pay, others weren’t— but since all I need to renew my EHIC is the post office receipt, I’m good with this.)