Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | July 22, 2010

My day at the Consulate

I went to the zoo today. I mean, I went to replace my Colombian ID, my cedula, for the new version at the Consulate in New York on 46th Street. It was draining, took me five and a half hours of waiting in lines. Apparently, the cut off is July 30, but for $30, I could have gotten it anytime after that. I would have paid.

I saw plenty of tiger-like behavior, of people jumping the line, which, I guess, made me feel right in Colombia because it is a Colombianada to jump lines, sort of like when you are amidst the chaos of the Avianca check-in counter at Kennedy Airport and you feel you have arrived in Colombia already; of failed dominatrix tricks from the guard with the mustache downstairs who let in those he found “simpaticas.” I wasn’t simpatica enough, should have worn the top that spilled my breasts, the shorts that vacuumed my behind.

I tend to regard official pages that end with .gov as the authority. So when I read on the internet that I did not need photos, I believed it. Well, the guy in the yellow vest outside, selling me his services to take my photo, told me if I had photos, I could skip one line once I got inside. Why did Mustached Guard, the Consulate’s official outside spokesperson, not share this bit of info? Yellow Vest led me into a building across the street—Why are you leading me into a dark deserted lobby? Please, don’t rob me—where I paid $12 for four photos.

Once I got inside—after three hours in 95-degree morning sun—there was another one-and-a-half hour line, with four women attending to about thirty of us on one floor, and then, another one-and-a-half hour line with two people taking our finger prints. I was head-achy by then, I expressed my outrage that it would take five hours to accomplish this. I was vocal, patience was gone. Señora, Finger-print guy said, We are special people with diplomatic visas, not just anyone can do this work.

Enough. I went to the top floor to talk to the Consulate General, Francisco Noguera Rocha.

I said, There are people here who work minimum wage, who cannot afford in this economy, to lose a whole day in this transaction. People have called in sick. People have abandoned the line after two hours because they have to go to work. Supply and demand, you guys need more people working this.

Noguera Rocha said, You and everybody has had six years to do this. Do you think if I placed appointments on the internet it would be better?

I said, Yes.

Noguera Rocha said, But the appointments fill up too fast.

I said, Supply and demand.

Then, I gave up.

I said, Okay, have a nice day!

Despite all this, I am grateful. On 46th Street, we get VIP service. I would be willing to bet that in many parts of Colombia the printers might not work, they might have run out of ink for the finger prints …

Okay, am having a cold drink, this day is over.

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