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Monday, December 27, 2004

Espero ...

How I sympathised with the guy shouting in the Driving Licence Department the day before Christmas who is waiting for the same thing as me (to change his a foreign license to a Portuguese one). I've only been waiting for my licence for ten months, I take the day off today to renew my request for the third time. GET ME THE "CHEFE"! It took me more than ten years to gird my loins, ten hours of queuing and form-filling and five months of waiting to join this queue. In fact the nice lady has now spent over one hour looking for my process in the back room (while this shouting gentleman is in the queue behind me) and I'm still waiting for her to come out. The man shouts again. It took me less than one hour to change my licence to a Swiss one and now you're telling me that it's normal to wait this long to change it back to a Portuguese one. I thought we were part of Europe!!!

That was the day before Christmas. Today, the day after Boxing Day, I spent the day in various government departments to make up for my expensive mistake of not filling in the form when I bought my house to say that this wasn't my second house. As I sat in the first-queue-today-for-the-third-time-for-an-hour-and-a-half I look around me and see a sea of faces ... waiting. Hoping, waiting and expecting - three words which translate into one word in Portuguese - esperar. I hope, I wait for and I expect all translate to the same "Eu espero ...". I feel an affinity with the shouting man - as we wait we both expect that there's more than just hope that our process will move forward more quickly. And I wonder if there will be some new vocabulary as bureaucracy and queuing and form-filling die out and productivity in Portugal goes up as we hope? wait? expect? not to spend SO MUCH TIME in queues.


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