Tuesday, 23 October 2012
My French Passport Is On Strike
My French passport doesn't work any more. Every time I go abroad I get sent to a special counter, because the magnetic stripe is not recognised and they need to check it manually, which takes more time. I think that my passport might be trying to tell me something: it is not happy because I am getting a British passport soon. I don't want to listen. I don't want to negotiate.
It has gone on strike and the situation has reached a dead-end.
You have got to give it to my fellow French citizen : no-one strikes like the French. In London, when there is a Tube strike, some lines are still running. As a passenger, it will be more painful but you have a chance to reach your destination. In France, it is far less likely. I remember having to walk to the office. It took me the best part of three hours. I also remember a couple of American tourists trying to go to the airport, only to be told sternly that there was a strike and nothing could be done. They were the hostages of a social conflict that had nothing to do with them. They looked bewildered. Welcome to France!
Sure, I could give my passport back to the French consulate to get it changed. I have to admit that I can't face the long wait. A quick look at the website proved me right: you can't make an appointment this side of Christmas. Somehow the various queues at foreign customs suddenly seem more appealing than the French administration. And, once you have explained the situation it usually takes a few weeks to have a new passport. Nightmare. Another option would be to do it the French way: I could go to the front desk and loudly complain. I might get a lecture about the fact that an appointment might be required but, on the positive side, it might work and usually they might get me straight in. None of these two options appeal to me.
I suppose that I will have to be patient and wait for my British passport. On the bright side, it is nice to have the option to have two passports. Lots of my friends couldn't get out of the country because they were waiting for their travel documents. For this, I am grateful!