Badalona (Baetulo during Roman times) is in the comarca of Barcelonès, the same as Barcelona. Current population is around 220,000 and the home of the BadaFUCKERS.
Last Tuesday I arrived at the Comisaría de Policía around 07:20 in the morning. I counted about 20 people who had already arrived before me. It was the usual mix of Africans, Latin Americas, and Middle Easterners. Unlike Mataró, there were also a number of East Asians. Again, I was probably the only estadounidense there.
Around 08:30 some police came out and told us to make two lines: one for españoles and the other for extranjeros. A number of people who had arrived after me cut in line in front of me. So much for coming early and waiting longer.
Fifteen minutes later they handed out numbers for your turn. Mine was T034, so I was 34th in line for extranjeros. They let us inside the office promptly at 09:00. It was a big room with a lot of chairs for waiting and a few desks where agents sat. There was one agent for foreigners and several for citizens.
While waiting, we were treated to a little bit of drama. A sub-saharan was told to sit and wait. A bit later a casually dressed man from the back came out and asked “are you XXX?” The sub-saharan answered “yes” and then the man said “accompany me” and pulled out his wallet and showed his gold police badge. The sub-saharan reached into his pockets and gave some of his belongings to a couple of his friends. Many in the room watched as the sub-saharan was led out of the room and then placed in an unmarked car and driven away. It was “just like in the movies.”
Finally after waiting inside for about three hours it was my turn to talk the woman agent. I had all my papers in proper order and along with my passport and photos. After a moment she asked where was my “solicitud” (application) form. I pointed to my visa application and she said “No, no, no.” She showed me another form from a different person. I recognized it and said I didn’t have one like it. In fact I had filled out a similar form and presented it to the Oficina de Extranjeros in Barcelona the previous week and the woman there said I didn’t need it at the Comisaría. But that was the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or MAE and this was the Ministerio del Interior (Ministry of the Interior) or MI.
I was stunned and didn’t know what to do. I had brought along the FAX that was given to me at the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco that was the “resolución de concesión de autorización de residencia” meaning that I had been authorized for residency in Spain. But that wouldn’t do. I shook my head and said that I didn’t know what to do.
I had double-checked things at every step and had Ruben go over everything in case I had missed something. I didn’t want to fail on a technicality. But here I was with one form “missing”.
The woman said “su consulado es muy malo.” I wanted to say that it wasn’t my Consulate, it was hers, but I didn’t. Then she said three words that were music to my ears: “No pasa nada.” Which in this case means that it didn’t matter. Of course she could look at the record of my travails on the screen of her computer. She mentioned that I had applied in 2005 and that my request had been approved. I said that the Consulate never informed me of the decision and that I had to repeat the whole process again.
Then we had the typical conversation about why I chose to live in Spain and what I thought of the current financial crisis, while the rest of the room waited their turn.
She pulled out a form along with a plastic sheet with holes cut in it. She said to sign in two places which I did. Next she took out an ink pad and had me put a finger print of my right index finger at two locations. I realized that the plastic sheet was so you wouldn’t get ink on other parts of the mainly blank form.
Next she said that I could return in a month in order to pick up my tarjeta de identidad. Of course I had another tasa (fee) of 10 € to pay in order to get the card.
After waiting five hours I was finally done. When Ruben heard all the details, he was incredulous and said that he was embarrassed for his country.