Stressed – what makes you think that?

Here is a potted version of the last 7 days.  Today marked the end of one of the most stressful weeks in a long time. 

Last Monday we had to transfer some money into another European country to complete a project that we have been working on for 3 years.  Leading up to this Monday had required quite a lot of detailed engagements with a number of other third parties to make sure that everything needed was in place.  That actually was reasonably smooth.  So, Monday, execute the transfer.  Everything was set up for the 2 of us to fly out of Amsterdam on Friday morning to arrive and finalise everything, some weeks ago.

Wednesday afternoon I get a phone call.  “Apologies, but the schedule has changed.  Because of public holidays the offices of everyone involved will be closed by midday on Friday and we know your flight arrives at midday.  Can you change this?”.  Rapid calls to KLM and to my amazement could change things to Thursday night, last flight out.  Checked bank account late Wednesday night – all the money is back in the account. Shit, it take 3 days to transfer anything and this needs to be in specific accounts Friday morning.  Holy shit, what to do?  Try a different transfer method and this time pay for immediate transfer, – let’s try that.  Phone calls and screen shots emailed on Thursday. 

Booked a rental car earlier in the week.  Something in the back of my mind was aware that not everything was settled with this.  Checked reservation and noted in very bottom left hand corner saying that because we booked the pick up time at 11pm, reservation couldn’t be confirmed because the office shuts at 10pm – shit.  On the phone, called the hotline, “Dont worry sir, you can pay an additional fee and the people will wait for you” – great.  Arranged that.  Thursday mid afternoon, same feeling.  Called hotline again – “no problem, if they don’t wait the leave a note at the desk and the key and contract with airport information”.  Hmmm, this is Italy, why do I not believe this?  Decided to call Sixt in Italy to check.  Lady was helpful but not entirely convincing, so she put me through to the office at the airport – “wait for you, not really possible, yes, yes you have paid for me to wait but if you are delayed I cannot wait” (this is better this is the Italy I know).  “Try Hertz, they are open until midnight”.  OK, now we are talking.  Called back Sixt to cancel the reservation (that was never really a true reservation, apparently) and then get onto the Hertz site to book.  Fortunately this time I get a confirmation number.  Everything good to go.

Out to airport, jump on plane arrive on time 10.30pm in Rome.  Out through the doors, followed the signs towards the rental car desks.  Signs direct you through some doors.  Doors don’t open – they get locked at 10.00pm.  Hmmmm – lets follow the other Italians who seem to know where to go.  Around the corner into an elevator, up to the 2nd floor, out, down some corridors indicating direction to hire cars, doors locked at 10.00pm (only in fucking Italy).  Reverse direction, back down to arrivals area go to the exit – yep doors locked at 10.00pm.  Go further down airport until we find the one remaining exit.  Outside to taxi area of course no signs toward rental car area as all signs are inside.  Asked a person, yes 100 meters that way and up some stairs – easy.  Off we go.  Yes, there are the stairs, race up 4 flights and miracle of miracles, the fire doors are jammed open so we can go through.  The alternative would have been ugly as there was no way to open the fire doors from the outside.  Into the overhead walkway, relocate signs and off we go to Hertz.  Arrive at desk sweating like a pig.  Calm helpful lady – good.  Gave her the reservation printout, passport, credit card and drivers license.  After a few minutes the lady gets my attention “Excuse me sir can you please help me”?  “Whats up” says I.  “From what I see here your license has expired in January”. “Expired, impossible” – looking, looking – fuck me it expired in January – 9 months ago.  In that time I have hired 2 other cars (ironically from Sixt) and the police pulled me up to check papers and licence in Germany in April.  As you can understand this took a few minutes to process.  Holy shit, what happens now.  “K, please tell me you bought you licence and that it’s not expired” She tentatively pulls hers out and thank god, it’s all ok.  Why is this such a MAJOR problem, you ask?  Well we HAD to get a car because we then had to drive another 2 hours to be where we needed to be to meet people at 7.00am Friday morning and there is no public transport at all going anywhere at midnight and a taxi would have required a second mortgage.  “So ma’am, you will have to drive as he cannot”.  Yes that I figured out.  So bags in the car, GPS plugged in let’s go!.  “Why isn’t the GPS locking onto the satellites”?  Dont tell me that the major map upgrade I did 2 days ago has fucked something up?  Cant be, we used it yesterday in Holland.  Then why doesn’t it activate and pick up the satellites?  Bloody hell, how do I know?  Look follow directions as I remember them and I will figure this out!   Wait, 15 minutes into this journey the bloody GPS decides it can find the satellites and lock on.  Thank God.  Location plugged in, everything good.

Now of course I am completely stressed because my licence expired 9 months ago and I can hear the conversation already “I am sorry sir, 9 months is too long.  You will need to sit your test once again and yes the fact that the whole thing is in Dutch is a complete major pain in the fucking arse, but rules are rules”.  I could visualise this conversation!  Lets add to the stress of everything else.  Monday I have to figure this out.

Arrive back in Amsterdam late last night.  Up really early to make sure I have all the paperwork required to present myself at the Dutch Immigration office to renew my residents permit, which expires in December.  And the problem is?  To achieve this appointment took 3 weeks of pure Dutch bureaucracy at its finest.  It would take too long to explain, but bottom line was that because I haven’t passed the required exams that prove I have integrated, I cannot get an appointment.  So you then you enter this closed loop of bureaucratic insanity where everyone is apologetic, but those are the rules without any clear answer except you have to leave.  Luckily there is one absolute constant in Holland.  If you can clearly demonstrate to them that a certain action will end up costing the state considerable money (and supporting my 2 dutch children until 18 would do that), suddenly things become very easy.  “Oh, just fill out the form we send you, bring a photo and we will see you at 10.00am”. So got there, spent 30 minutes with a nice lady who takes my forms, photocopies them, then photocopies the photocopies, stamps the photocopies and then stamps the stamps on the photocopies, takes my money and tells me that they are a bit backlogged and the process could take 4 months. Oki doki.

Jump into my car (yes without my valid licence) and race to the local government office to see what awaits me.  Well the first thing is waiting time of one hour.  My number gets called and I go to the desk of a pleasant man and I explain what has happened and the fact that the agency didn’t send me a letter to remind me to renew.  (For those living in Holland you understand the importance of this observation.  Every single thing about you resides in a central database and you get letters reminding you about all the required things needed to function here).  The man from the local government office listens and says, quote “well that’s fucked up”!  I instantly knew things would be ok, and it was.  Entered more info into the computer, extracted a reasonable sum of money from me and told me to come back this Thursday morning and pick up my new licence!  Thank you God and my guardian angels!

Tomorrow morning I am up at 4.45am to get ready to fly to Geneva and so life continues. 

I think I need to sleep.


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