A Truly Madly Ordinary Trip To The Italian Embassy

Thirteen months later my adoption is eventually finalized.Italian bureaucracy is sure not the fastest in the world and even less when the court clerk writes an incomplete address and keeps sending the papers over and over again to the same unknown address. Me, I am just glad is over but I am well aware it is still early to celebrate as now the calvary of changing all my documents with the amended name must start. How it works in Ireland I have no idea but I suppose it won’t be that complicated.Every woman who gets married add her husband surname and I’m confident there is some procedure in place to facilitate things. Before I start changing my name in the bank account, the driving licence, the social services cards etc., I have first to change my ID card and my passport. It will have to be done through the Italian embassy that is loyally in line with the timing of the Italian public offices. And there is where my worries commence.
The passport to be renewed, for example, must not be sent before three months from its expiring date but strictly not after those three months otherwise there will be no guarantee to have it back in time. According to this rule of three, I’m already late as I have to travel mid-July and I panic.

As soon my lawyer informs me that the adoption’s papers has been registered and sent over to the Italian consulate in Dublin I immediately ring the embassy. Now, that is not as easy as it sounds.The embassy is open to the public two hours in the morning Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and two hours in the afternoon on Thursday if you physically go there;if you have to contact them by phone they recommend instead to do it outside the opening hours, to be precise within an hour after they close the office.
Wednesday morning I work my math and time and at 12.50pm I ring the office of the consulate:”Good morning I am calling to ask some information about the change of surname or, to be precise the add of a surname. All the papers have been sent to the consulate from Italy……..bla bla bla.”.After spending 15 minutes on the phone explaining what I needed the voice at the other end of the line said,”Oh, but I am only the policeman. The officer who is in charge is not here today, why don’t you come in tomorrow?”.I can’t help but laugh and make him notice that he could have said it before so to save us both time. Actually, the guard is conquered by my laugh and assured me that if I go in on Thursday afternoon he will let me in without an appointment. Those 15 minutes on the phone might not have been wasted after all.!

Thursday I collect the girls from school earlier and we head straight to town.
At 1.40pm sharp we are at the Consulate ‘s gate, the guard comes toward us and asks what we were there for.” I am the lady who laughs. “, I say laughing, because, really, what else could I do?!
He escorts us to the waiting room and gives us a number. Only two people in front of us: happy days! Without an appointment, my experience at the embassy is that you know when you start queuing but never when you end. While we are waiting I can notice that since last time I was here the personnel changed. I won’t hide my relief because my last visit has not been pleasant at all. I have been shamed in front of everybody because I wanted to pay with copper coins. Before you ask, it was only one euro out 132 euros for two passports and I refused to be treated like that. I called for the team leader and I protested that copper coins are a currency in use, there is written nowhere that they don’t accept them and so I would have gone nowhere without my passport and some apologies. They had by law to accept my coppers and also apologise.

Back to today, the wait is longer than expected as the guy in front of us has some really big issue to be sorted. Something with the Irish police treating him unfairly, drugs and the custody of a minor. In one world a mess of a situation now known to everybody in the room. The office of the consulate is, in fact, an open space leaving absolutely zero privacy. When my turn comes I approach the front office and explain why I am there. The officer who deals with me is exceptionally nice and competent and I make sure to tell him because, not to sound mean, it is a rarity in that place and in 16 years I have seen many different faces but nearly all with the same unfortunate attitude. Mr Ruggero, checks my name and address,”Oh but we know each other”, he says.”Yes, I think we spoke on the phone some time ago”, I say.”No no no, you are the lady who walks the dogs at the castle, right?”,he replays. I am taken by surprise: “Yes, I am”, I confirm. He then explains to me that we have an acquaintance in common and that he leaves in the village just passed mine. How small is the world!

At 2.45pm,we are done. We have to be back by 4 for fiddle lesson but there is plenty of time to stop by at papa’s office for a brief hello and a coffee. I haven’t had lunch yet or anything else since 7.30 this morning, I can really do with some caffeine.

The travelling husband recently changed office. His team grew considerably and so they have been moved to another side of the floor. A lot of new faces for us but we are indeed novelty for them too, as shown by their looks when we walk in.Those looks that make you check on your self just to be sure you have nothing strange in your hair, or some big disgusting stain on your top or, every women worst nightmare, the back of your skirt trapped inside your tights after your last visit at the ladies’.

In the canteen after a brief procession of characters coming in with some excuse to see the boss’ wife and daughters, I can eventually relax and chat with some familiar and friendly faces. A bit of awkwardness descends upon on us when I have been asked what brought me in town and when I vaguely replay a visit to embassy curiosity prevails and I am asked what was my business at the embassy. My first response would be:”You just said it. It is my business!!!!”.But that would be rude, wouldn’t it? So I instead answer I was there for a change of surname, hoping the guy understand it is a quite personal and delicate matter that I am not willing to disclose. He doesn’t and keeps going:”Good woman, you eventually get your husband surname then.”.Again, the first response it would be,”No, why would I want to do that 16 years later?”.What I say instead is,”I am adding a surname to mine but it is not his!”.Everybody at this point is slightly embarrassed and nobody speaks until, in all her innocence, daughter number two fills the silence:”She is getting my grandad surname because he adopted her as it is only fair that like he is our grandad he will be her dad too”.What was perfectly logic and natural in her head, in that canteen was like a bomb dropped with no warning.The travelling husband who has been on the phone all the time just hung up, and oblivious to whatever conversation might have happened in there simply asked me if I want sugar or milk with my coffee. The order is restored.

Nearly 3.30pm now we were risking to be late. We left the office and I decided to take the tunnel, That way I was sure to be back home in 20/25 minutes, except I take the wrong turn, again, and 20/25 minutes later we were instead still driving around Dublin looking for an alternative route to escape the traffic we were stuck in.I am well aware we will never make it to the start of fiddle lesson but I still hope we can get there by the end of the lesson so at least daughter number two will have all the info she needs for the concert. Ambulances and police patrol cars keep coming and going and I am trying to convince the girls it is all fault of some accidents that must have happened not of my total lack of sense of directions and total incapacity to simply follow google map.

4.30pm. We will never make it for the end of fiddle lesson either and my sense of guilt grows. At least we are eventually in the right direction and on our way out the city, bored and sweaty as it is obviously one of the hottest days in the last few weeks. We pass a pharmacy, one of those with outside the lightning green board with the time and date. A vicious reminder that it is nearly two hours we are in the car when, probably, that was the time we could have been home for if only I haven’t taken that bloody wrong turn, again! The board also reminds me that actually the fiddle concert is not this coming Sunday but the following,that explains why CG was so cool on losing fiddle lesson. She was not pretending to make me feel better. I suddenly feel no guilt anymore. Beside the pharmacy, there is a nice little cosy patisserie.I instinctively pull over:”Girls, get out! We are having a treat. We deserve it”.

Around 6 pm we get home, exhausted. We are welcomed by two drooling dogs whose eyes are nearly sticking out their head for hunger.
I send the girls up to have a shower and I ravage at the bottom of my cleaning tools box to see if I still have an emergency comforting cigarette. I do and tonight it is much needed. The phone rings, it is the travelling husband saying he is on his way and asking if I had difficult to get to the tunnel:”Nope, why should have I ? there was a bit of traffic and we didn’t make it to fiddle but once you know where to go is easy right? We were home ages ago.”.He listen,pause and then:”Did you get lost again?”.
How did he know? Does he have mind readers powers I’m not aware of? Does he have a super sight and he could see my little red car going around and around senseless? Maybe he had a track installed either on my phone or my car?
Most probably this is what you get when you marry someone who knows you since you were 15 and already crap at finding your way around places.