The story of how I quit my job and went to play in Madrid


Close your eyes and think back to what you were doing at 7 am on Thanksgiving morning. Sleeping, right? (Well, those of you with tiny kids, probably not.) Anyway, we were riding the metro to the Foreigner’s Office for our appointment to get the GOLD, our residency cards.

We show up, wait in the usual random line out front while we watch the sun rise. It wasn’t so bad this time, since we knew what we were getting into, and both of us were wearing two pairs of pants in order to ward off the chill.

The line begins to move and we even got in the right line this time. “We have an appointment, and we know what to do!” We kept high fiving each other, getting a little nervous that somehow this would go wrong again.

It’s our turn. A Santa-man points to the next available agent. We sit, and it’s the SAME lady from last time. Obviously, she doesn’t remember us. I proudly hand her all the documents that her colleague told us to bring. My heart stops, imagining that she will tell us no again. She casually flips through Margaux’s papers and then looks at us. “Do you have the Social Security papers?”  Without losing my cool, I remind her that last time, it was decided that Margaux didn’t need those. She held a finger in the air, and then nodded, like she remembered. (Maybe she didn’t remember, and was just testing us?) Maybe they never needed that anyway, all I said was that we didn’t need them and she believed me. Weird. Anyway, before we knew it, the lady was handing Margaux a tiny stamped receipt.  Five seconds later, after quickly “verifying” my papers, I received the same strip of paper and the instruction, “You. No work. Ok?”  Great.

We go to the next booth and a handsome young guy takes our fingerprints.  I ask him if the receipt we have will be good enough to travel with, as we are heading out of the country for a vacation soon. He says no, but you can get the permission to reenter Spain upstairs.


The receipts that will get the gold!

So there we have it. These tiny receipts are the GOLD. A little underwhelming, sure. But they can be redeemed in 40 days for the real thing, a bona fide residency cards.

Now, for the dumb/funny part. Remember, we had to cancel our trip to Barcelona because of all this mess in early November. Now, we had planned an awesome trip to Rome over Thanksgiving, and had to change a few things around so we could get this receipt.  The guy who took our fingerprints told us we had to go upstairs to ask for a paper that would allow us to come back into Spain, since we didn’t have the real resident cards yet. Sounds pretty easy.

We go upstairs, wait in line for a bit, and then ask a guy sitting behind a computer for a paper that will allow us to leave.  I bet you can guess what he said: “Do you have an appointment?”  D’OH!  I’ll cut to the chase and spare you all the anxiety-ridden details. Basically, he said we could come back in 2 hours with the following things:

1. A print-out of an appointment confirmation. Even if the appointment says January, he said he’ll take it. He can’t see us without this paper.  So you need an appointment, but you can just come in this afternoon.

2. Copies of our newly printed receipts.

3. Copies of our passports.

4. Printouts of our boarding passes, to prove that we actually have a flight.

5. Pay a fee, at the bank, with this specific form. (Hurry though, the banks close in 1 hour and not all of them will accept this form.)

We run around the city looking for an internet place that also has printing capabilities. Not so easy to find, surprisingly. We run around, yell at each other to hurry up to 3 different banks to find one that accepts this form, or accepts us as non-customers. The day warms up and we curse ourselves for wearing two pairs of pants, because now it’s uncomfortable. In order to maintain our bloodsugar, therefore our sanity, we order breakfast. I accidentally order porkchops and eggs for breakfast. An old lady walking by stops and points at my breakfast and makes fun of it. Pointing, she says to her friend, “Mira! Que desayuno tiene!” (Look, what a breakfast she has!) Then tells me, “Tienes hambre, eh!?” (You must be hungry, huh?) Nice. Embarrassed, sweaty and a little stressed that we might not be able to go to Rome, we hurry up and bring everything back to the guy at the Yellow Building.

He looks at our morning’s work and prints off our permission to return to the country. Sweet!


Permission slip from the government.

With these papers, we are free to go wherever we want! Thanks, Spain.

The next morning, we caught a flight to ROME!


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4 thoughts on “The GOLD

  1. Anonymous on said:


  2. Paperwork and bureaucracy – a special talent of European governments. My partner had almost the same experiences as you guys did when he was trying to get his residency permit for Italy. Lines that didn’t go anywhere, an office that opened for an hour then shut for siesta, people telling him he needed paperwork he really didn’t. Glad that nightmare is over for you guys though!

  3. This whole system has taken some getting used to. You are right, it seems the specialty of every immigration worker to ask for papers that don’t exist or are unnecessary. That’s why we try to bring anything and everything that might be useful. Last time, I brought my college transcript! Just in case.

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