I applied for a post one time as a consulate adjudicator in China (unsuccessfully). As a contract position with the Foreign Service, it came with free accommodation, double holidays (both Chinese and American) and a generous starting salary in US dollars.
One thing I’ll never understand: If consulate life is so sweet, then why are they so awful? Day in and day out they perform the duties of a glorified mailbox, while holding subtle (or as I’ve experienced, rather blatant) hatred for the people they serve.
While nothing can beat the logistical nightmare from that one time I had to get an Indian visa from the (notoriously inefficient) consulate general in Shanghai, these past few days have been rather trying.
I woke up on Monday to find there were many problems with the visas for my summer internship: Student visas were obtained, where work permits are legally required (!). No one will be able to go to Switzerland on time (!). My university is contemplating reimbursing people for their flights (!).
Less than 24 hours later, my boyfriend and I are off to NYC. We are second in line at the Swiss Consulate, asking if we can have our visas now please.
The lady behind the counter starts off mildly enough, excusing herself to go check on our visas. She returns with a spark of vengeance in her eyes “They are not approved! None of them!” she shouts at us with disgust.
Desperate, we start pleading, “But we are both employed with international organizations!” I wave my letter of invitation, a move that is scornfully disregarded.
She counters with a multifaceted tirade somehow addressing the worldly issues of entitlement and stupidity – traits she clearly assumes we all share, before denouncing our “little study program,” and taking five minutes to talk about us in French with her colleagues.. right in front of us. We were finally sent away with “You will be lucky if you have visas by the end of the month!”
My visa was processed about an hour later, and FedExed to my doorstep by 6am the next morning.. news that would have been more uplifting had my boyfriend’s been in the envelope as well.
In the end we missed our flight and had to abandon our travel plans before the beginning of the program. However, the good news is that we will be on a plane early next week, just in time to make our deadline (unfortunately the same cannot be said for everyone in the program).
Good old Swiss efficiency sure worked like clockwork. Too bad the whole thing was basically cuckoo.☼