I just completed the longest trip the US that I have taken since moving to Italy in 2010. The main motivation was to see my family and friends, so I took plenty of trips to celebrate and reconnect.
However, another part of any stateside visit for me is renewing my Italian visa. Somehow during my weeks in America, I managed to forget about government bureaucracy. Then I called the Italian Consulate to ask what I deemed a fairly innocuous question, and I got straight up chided.
Then I went to the appointment, and I got straight up yelled at.
I walked into the waiting room and sat down.
“Did you just walk in here?!?” a security guard yelled at me.
“Oh. Hello. Yes. Sorry. I did. I was trying to follow the directions.”
“It’s not something you do YOURSELF,” the guard snapped.
Oh really? Because when I made the appointment online, I got this CRAZY list of directions that I had to print out and bring with me and I am pretty sure that “do-it-yourself” is exactly what they instruct me to do.
I swear to God that the entire convoluted process is to just screen people out.
Here were my instructions – all caps and colors original (I’ve removed the contact info only):
In view of your upcoming appointment at our Consulate, please be advised of the following:
1) As you enter the corridor to the left of the Italian Shield, the first door to your right is the Waiting-Room Area for general consular services (passports, citizenship, notary, registrar….);
2) If you have a visa appointment, PROCEED down the corridor, third door to your right;
3) As you enter the Waiting-Room Area, you will have to walk through a metal detector (very much like at an airport);
4) No attendant will be on duty near the detector: you will be MONITORED through a surveillance camera;
5) The GREEN READY light must appear before you are permitted to enter the Walk-Through Box for inspection;
6) Before entering the Walk-Through Box for inspection , please REMOVE all metal objects in your possession (particularly cell phones, which must be turned off at all times) and PLACE THEM on the side table located at your right;
7) NOTE: presently our building does not offer storage facilities (lockers): in order to avoid delays during the screening process, please DO NOT TAKE with you at the time of the appointment items like luggage, bags, briefcases
8) STEP INTO the metal detector Walk-Through Box and STOP for five seconds;
9) If metal is detected on you, (a) you will hear an ALARM SOUND (b) RED LIGHTS will turn on (c) the gate in front of you will close automatically;
10) DO NOT PROCEED, DO NOT TRY TO FORCE YOUR WAY THROUGH THE GATE: STEP BACK and exit IMMEDIATELY the metal detector walk-through area;
11) SEARCH YOURSELF for other metal objects that might trigger the alarm: place them too on the table located to your right, well in view of the camera;
12) GO AGAIN through the Walk-Through Box;
13) REPEAT steps 6-7-8 UNTIL no metal objects are detected;
14) Once you are done with your appointment, DO NOT EXIT back through the gate and metal detector; EXIT to the left of the table next to the metal detector;
15) Please NOTIFY us at ———- of any special needs.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION!
So go to your visa appointment with plenty of time before your departure. Bring all your documents (passport, copy of passport, passport photo, application, and any housing or monetary documents requested). Be respectful, but keep a (silent) sense of humor, or you will totally lose it.