Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Well Done, Gardai

So, two trips wasted now.

I spent yesterday finding the Garda Immigration Office in Galway. It turns out to be in a mostly unmarked building (there's a tiny plaque among the others) in the Byzantine wastelands of a charmless industrial park in the part of Galway that doesn't end up on the postcards. After at last locating it with a lot of help from Google Maps, I was told that not only were there no forms available to register, but they were "out of numbers."

Silly me, I assumed this meant some kind of glitch with their machine. At least I knew where it was now and could return in the morning, when (surely!) it would be less chaotic.

I got up early, passing through a twilit Eyre Square, where the crows fought a turf battle against the gulls with plenty of commentary on both sides, and repeating the less-than-picturesque ramble out to the industrial park. Returning for the opening hour of 7:30 was early for me, but surely a wise thing to do.

Apparently not.

Arriving minutes after opening, I found the line out the door and into the parking lot. I ducked in to grab a form, but after asking several people, was unable to find anyone who was giving out the tickets to officially queue for a place in line. I joined the end of the line and filled out my form, hoping someone would appear soon. More people joined behind me. Everyone looked anxious. Children were already bored with waiting, as apparently many people got here quite early. I was beginning to get a bad feeling about that.

Finally one of the latest folks to join the queue came out with a form in her hand, saying angrily that they would not see anyone that day who did not already have a ticket. We were wasting our time. Yes, that's right. Arriving at the time the office opened meant we were too late to actually see anyone in the office that day (o_O). So the posted hours -- which a hand-written sign declared could be changed "without notice" -- mean nothing because if you are not there before they opened (in fact, well before they opened) they will do nothing for you.

Apparently, this is typical.

I suppose if you're in the midst of a financial crisis and want to discourage immigrants, this is one way to do it. However, I am not costing the Irish nation a penny, and am bringing the prestige of the Fulbright foundation and a lot of money to spend here, but apparently that's not enough. Perhaps a dance of some kind is called for, or a round of drinks...?

And they're not answering their phone. I shall have to write a letter to The Times. Oh, wait...


MrTumshie said...

Even if it were a ploy to discourage immigration it is a bloody stupid one. After all, by the time the huddled masses are queuing Up in Galway they are already in the bloody country! I imagine it is more a case of bureaucratic incompetence, undoubtedly made worse by cutbacks due to the death of the Celtic Tiger. None of which helps you except in as much as everyone is in the same boat.
Sounds a bit like something out of Father Ted too. Only less funny.

K. A. Laity said...

Ah thanks, Terry. I have been saying to myself, "Very small, far away," but it's not really helping much. Yeah, it's really irritating but I suppose can't be helped. I was less philosophical earlier, but you know, if this is the most I have to complain of things could be a lot worse. But I got up when it was still dark! >_<

Claire Lambe Artist said...

Hey Ms Laity, so excited that you are in Galway - always thought if I ever go back to Ireland I would like to live in that area (am formerly of Dublin). Hope you have a terrific time despite the immigration Office frustration. If it makes you feel any better, I have experience of the other side of the coin: the INS office in NYC where one can only assume the requirement for employment is to surrender one's heart at the door. But at least it is easy to find ;)

K. A. Laity said...

Hey Claire, good to see you here. I have a horrible feeling that immigration offices everywhere are hideous eyesores full of obstructionist bureaucrats. Sorry to hear you've suffered similarly. It's good to have it done.