In Lisbon, I got to do it twice a year (towards the end, only twice every other year), and it took at least 4 or 5 hours each time. In London, the one time I tried it, I arrived at around 5 in the morning, in the cold, in the dark, and in Croyden, and left shortly after 2 in the afternoon after being told that I didn't have all the documentation I needed. Here in Copenhagen, it has taken me up to 5 hours before, but today, it took only about 2 hours, for which I am extremely grateful.
I am speaking, of course, about the immigration experience, and waiting in line to either turn things in or to get things renewed. I am also thrilled that I only had to wait 6 and a half months for the renewal, as I had heard rumors of waiting times of up to a year. This means that I was only without a valid visa in my passport for about 5 months, though of course could still live where I am and work and so on because of my previous visa.
When I write these things, it occurs to me that my sense of timing is becoming extremely warped. Two hours is a long time to wait. Six months is a long time to get a renewal on something where none of the conditions, addresses, incomes, housing size, nothing has changed. And yet, for the countries I've lived in, they seem like remarkably short time spans to me.
So, I ask you...please help me readjust my sense of bureaucracy. Tell me your horror stories, the horror stories you've heard from your friends and family, horror stories you've seen or read or heard on the news. Because I'm afraid this will spread to the rest of my life. And because at the rate this is going, soon I'll be overjoyed at being only the 27th person in line at my local Fakta.*
*A discount supermarket, known for inordinately long lines, and only one cashier working at any time of the day or week.