Today I had to go to my local bank to cancel my debit card and order a new one since I seem to have misplaced it somewhere on my desk. Sounds easy, right? In many places, you could call a toll free number and a card would be put in the mail within 24 hours. In my neck of the urban concrete jungle, it was a process taking close to an hour. And I was truly happy.
Used to be I'd have to first parade over to a local Carabinieri office (after first trying the police station who would dismiss you without reason), wait in line behind all the other document-seeking peoples (and I don't mean illegal immigrants - that's a whole 'nother enterprise and study in patience), get told to come back another day and not so close to lunchtime, be interrupted by real emergencies and phone calls from the moglie, asking when she should 'buttare la pasta', and on your third attempt, file a police report that was destined to become part of the State Archives never to be released, as if misplacing your card was akin to mining the State secrets of the Bay of Pigs. Eventually, you would be given your leave but only after having signed 3 copies of the report in three places.
You should have seen the faces of the American police dept. when I waltzed in one fine day and asked if they could please make a 'missing i.d. card' report for me for the Italian authorities. The story made the rounds of the entire station and I thought I would be given a lie detector test to see if this was not some weird prank I was forced to carry out on a dare.
But I digress. So, off I was, card in hand, having signed over 12 different documents, short forms, receipts and declarations (and I admit, 'card in hand' - no 24 hr. wait either!)
Darting out for a drink with a colleague, he informed me how, just the day before, he actually had to sign a form to give to the info desk at the city office in which he needed to file some work papers. They gave him a new form to sign to visit Window no. 1. Unable to help him, he was told to go to Window no. 5, but not before first signing a new form. And, of course, you guessed it, Window no. 5 first gave him a form to sign, but then told him to come back another day with some new forms that he had produced, but not in enough copies.
We wondered whether or not he'd need to re-sign all the forms once he restarted the process, or whether re-sign was just actually a term to get you to resign your mission altogether.