Friday, September 4, 2009

'Welcome to hell' OR 'A stroll through Quebecois Bureaucracy' OR 'Why is getting a metro pass harder than going through boarder control'

Insanely long title for an insanely long day.

Yesterday, I thought I'd be clever and get all my cards and papers sorted out. I registered at uni and worked out my health insurance the day before so it was time for a student ID and metro pass. I thought I'd skip the lines and arrived at 8:30 when the ID card production starts at 9am. I was only 4th in line. I was out of there by 9:10am. Oh, how industrious I felt, a precursor to a smooth day... how wrong I was.

I asked the lady at the ID card booth how I get my metro pass now (also known as a personalised OPUS card). The instructions were simple, download and fill in the form off the STM site, get it stamped at the Birks centre then go to the Magill station for your photo and your card. Simple, right?

It took half an hour of fruitless searching on the internet until I gave up and figured they'd have a copy of the form in the Birks Student Services Centre, where I'd need to go anyway to get it stamped and signed. It was 9:40am, Birks only opened at 10am, so I waited in an already staggeringly long line to get to into Birks, to then wait in line some more only to be told 'we don't have any forms here, go to the Berri-UQAM metro station and pick one up from there if you can't find it online'. So, off I go, annoyed as hell already, towards the Latin Quater and the Berri Station. Strangely, you actually have to exit the metro to get to the place with the forms. Then, you have to buy a new ticket. Bye-bye $5.50 and useless waste of an hour. The woman gave me the form in French, and I misread and mis-translated and signed in the wrong space. FUCK.

Back to the library to (now that I had the official title of the form) google stupid form which is meant to prove I'm a student, because a student ID won't do. When I found stupid form, it wouldnt print. GAH, one must first buy a printing card to print at concordia, but, a small ray of luck, the librarian printed it for me for free! So, back to Birks to get it stamped and signed. Hideously long line at Birks by this time, at least I bought a novel.

Finally, form completed and signed. Another $2.75 for the metro to get to Magill to get the bloody pass. But, alas, there is a mile-long line of people OUTSIDE the photo place, and the photo place itself is as packed as a tin of canned fish. 'Mademoiselle, prenez un numero, sil-vous-plait'. I prenez un numero 756. Now serving 345. Only ONE register. OH. MY. GOD. Ok, novel out, I'll survive somehow.

But soon, the monotony of useless lining up is broken when STM information officers walk past, asking to see everyone's documents. (What the hell, is this Russia!?!). I show my completed papers, student ID and passport. 'Preuve d'Address, Madame?'.... QUOI?!?!?! Oh yes, the form doesn't mention you need a proof of address, to prove you live in Montreal. How does one get such proof??
'Go back to Concordia and get them to print out your details, stamp them and sign them.'
Ok, another $2.75 and a good hour at Birks. Another $2.75, back to Magill. Thankfully the information guy remembered me and let me go straight into the photo place. Great! How foolish I was, thinking I was almost done. Another 2 hours pass, and a lot of swearing under my breath at the people infront of me, who didnt have the right papers, who wanted to pay half on card then half by cash, oh but then they wanted a plastic cover for their metro pass too. When there are 300 angry students and pensioners behind you, trust me, you don't need a plastic cover for your metro pass.

So, it's 3pm. All I have acomplished was a metro pass and a student card. It cost $16.50 in metro tickets and 6 hours of my time. Not to mention the $13.50 that you need to pay for the card, nor the $37 that will now last me untill October. Today, I refuse to stand in lines.

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