When small things get repeatedly stacked against you, they begin to feel really big. In case you were wondering, the Italian bureaucratic saga continues. This next “small thing” I’m going to share with you definitely felt like a big thing at the time. And it made me think of this scene from Rocky Balboa:
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Previously on Diana’s journey of becoming and Italian resident, blog post #3… residency card on hand, social security number obtained, champagne was popped, hurray! The next step was to get my identity card; a relatively easy task that requires you to show up at the courthouse with all your documents and a picture. As the friendly lady behind the desk was pulling up the pertaining information to execute my request, we realized my social security number was not in the system. After some digging, we noticed the number the courthouse had in their computer did not match the number given to me on my residency card. “No big deal”, she tells me, “I will call the main office in Rome and get this fixed and you can come back later this week to request your I.D.” The following day I get a phone call asking me to bring in my social security authentication document (a document I had with me the day before and could have easily given it to them then) so they can make a copy. “No ma’am, unfortunately you cannot email us a scanned version”. So, the next day, I present myself once again at courthouse, drop off the document and go home to wait for my phone call telling me everything is squared away. Later that evening, I got the phone call; not only was everything NOT squared away, but they had identified that the social security number issue was rooted a little deeper.
My full legal name, as listed on my passport is Diana Franca Melby, Franca being my maiden name and Melby by married last name (which I have yet had the chance to change). Italians typically do not have middle names nor do they change their last name when they marry. So, for legal purposes in Italy, I have two first names, Diana Franca, with the last name Melby. In the U.S., I have never had issues with being just Diana Melby because middle names aren’t very important as long as everything else matches. Consequently, when my residency card came back with Diana Melby written on it, I did not think much of it, specially since the submission was made with my full legal name (Diana Franca Melby) with presented documents that showed just that. As it turns out, this small detail is indeed important because the Italian social security number is calculated using a preset formula of your legal name, date of birth, and place of birth. Whomever decided that day that Franca did not make the cut on my residency card, subsequently assigned me the wrong social security number. Recork the champagne.
Back to the phone call, I am told that in order to fix my name I must get a certificate of residency from the court house and head back to the Agenzia dell’Entrate (where I had the social security number authenticated and where you would think they would have caught this discrepancy to begin with) and have the correct number assigned. Condensing what follows: trip #3 to the courthouse, document in hand (spoiler alert- I never actually needed this document), head over to the Agenzia dell’entrate, wait for an hour in line to then be told they can’t help me because the original number was generated by the Questura (police department) who is in charge of the residency cards. Insert face palm emoji. Sigh. So, to the Questura I went.
Let me paint a picture: feeding time at shark infested waters. That’s the Questura. There is no organized way to form a line, there is no way to make an appointment (the only appointments given are those originated by the mailed in application for residency), and they never answer their phones. By some grace of God, standing in a sea of immigrants all desperate to get to the glass window where one, maybe two, people are working, I manage to make it to the front of the line. I courteously plea my case to the gentleman behind the glass (showing a little respect goes along way with these government employees who deal with peoples’ crap all day) and he pulls me up on their system. He then makes a copy of my documents, writes down my phone number, says the request will be sent to Rome’s main office and sends me on my way. No receipt of the transaction, no estimation on how much time it should take, nor a visual guarantee that he actually got my name right this time. Confused stare. Blink. Blank stare. Blink. Deep breath. “Thank you, Sir.” Walk out.
So back to Rocky. It seems like every time I think I finally have everything figured out bureaucratically speaking, that the complications are all out of the way, and I am on the final home stretch… I get a right hook to the face. I had a melt down when I found out about the name discrepancy issue on my documents. Full on tears and broken heart, then anger, then complete defeat. Looking back, I know my reaction was a bit exaggerated. But at the time, the weight of this 8-month-long process doing it the “Italian” way and the realization that in less then 3 months I will have to apply for a renewal made me want to say “F*ck it, I’m done with this country”.
But as always, I felt my feelings, shed my tears, took a deep breath and reminded myself that there’s always a way. As Mr. Balboa said: “it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” Flash forward to now, a month and a half after my request for a residency card with the correct name on it and only two short months away from the expiration date of said card, I’m still waiting. But what I have now decided is that instead of undergoing a TKO by the Italian government, I will put up my gloved hands, tuck in my chin, plant my feet on the ground and take the punches. And when it’s time, I will sprint up those final steps, shadowbox a little, and finally pop that long awaited champagne bottle!