July 10, 2014

Residency Permit Renewal, Part 3

The latest step in trying to renew my permesso di soggiorno went so well and smoothly that it felt strange. Having filled out the forms with the help of a model provided by the same helpful brother from the previous post, I set out with them after Mass this morning.

After the walk to the bus stop, I waited only a couple of minutes before two Franciscan nuns pulled up to the bus stop.

"Pace e bene," they greeted. "Where are you going?"

"Ahead to the Commercial Center," I responded. They said they would take me.

The sisters dropped me off right in front of a tabacchi, which is where you need to go to buy the 16 euro stamp that you have to stick on the top of form #1 before you hand it in at the post office. From there I went across the street to the post office. I pressed the appropriate button on the machine where you take a number. As soon as my number came out of the machine it came up at the Sportello Amico. That's the "friend window," because the Republic of Italy is your friend. No waiting at the Italian post office, that's a new one. I gave my kit to the man, who turned out to be very nice. He checked this, scanned that, typed into his computer, took my €158.50, and eventually provided me with the correct receipts and the sheet of paper that tells you when to show up at Via Del Mascherino 12.

In fact, the only thing that didn't go so well was the wait for the bus to take me home. But at that point I wasn't about to complain.

July 9, 2014

Residency Permit Renewal, Part 2

Returning from the morning described in the previous post, I mentioned my insuccess to those of the brothers that I ran into. One of them, much more experienced in such things, said that he would have opportunity to check for the kit in his travels, and would do so for me. A few days later, while I was waiting for the least hot day of the week to try again at new post offices, he said, "I have something that will make you happy," and delivered a kit to me.

So while it is unbecoming of a religious to whine or complain of the troubles and difficulties his vocation offers him--which are graces in which rather he should rejoice and give thanks to God--it can be good to share one's lament. Second, sometimes the Lord wishes to remind us that it is more blessed to depend on one's brother than on oneself.

July 4, 2014

Residency Permit Renewal, Part 1

So you realize, somewhat to your surprise, that you have been in Italy for two years. One of the effects of this is that your permesso di soggiorno, or residency permit, obtained not without difficulty and misadventure (see this post and this post) is getting ready to expire.

It's time to think about applying for a renewal of the residency permit.

The first step in this process, which would seem easy enough, is to collect the 'kit' (English: 'kit') alleged to be "available in all post offices."

So you are reminded that there is a nice-looking post office that you have passed in the course of your regular appointments, and decide to visit the next time you're there. Trying to execute this plan, you find that you have to regard yourself as a silly person for having presumed that a post office would be open as late as early afternoon on a weekday.

Then you admit to yourself that a dedicated trip is going to be necessary and, having checked your insight with a more experienced confrere, decide to visit a larger post office where you have had some good fortune in the past. You leave in the morning and ride the bus to the area of the post office. You take a number. You lend your almost-used-up WSOU pen to a random guy carrying all of his vital documents in his inverted motorcycle helmet. Your number comes up and you go to the window. No, we're out of the kit says the guy. Maybe try the post office near such-and-such subway stop.

So you get on the subway for a couple of stops. Thanks to Google Maps you have a guess as to what post office the guy was talking about. When you get there you have high hopes because the post office seems very fancy, having individual, double automatic doors like an airlock. But unfortunately you find that like many fancy things in Italy, it's fancy for no particular reason and they don't have the kit either. Do you have any advice, you ask the post office guy.

"You have to keep going to post offices." he offers, in a tone that suggests he is explaining something obvious.

By now it's starting to get pretty hot and you might decide to go home so as to be sure to be there for Midday Prayer and dinner, but you think that maybe you have time to try on more post office. Faithfulness is what you have to do with your freedom, you think. So back to Google Maps and a walk to the next closest post office, where your luck doesn't change.

So you turn to find your way home, having spent a morning making no progress on getting the Republic of Italy to allow you to live there another two years. You sit down on the bus and thank God for the gift of the smallest taste of the sufferings and frustrations of foreigners and displaced people, and you pray for all of them, for their strength and safety.

To be continued...