With the certificates sorted out it seemed as if the most difficult part was behind us. Our information just had to be entered into the computer and we would be on our way.
“but you have lived in Germany before?”
With that question, everything turned on its head again.
Yes, Jonathan has lived in Germany before. Yes, he registered; well, the the professor leading his program did it for everyone. At least, he said he did it for veryone.
Actually, he forgot to do it until there was only two months left in the program. So, while Jon’s passport is stamped with dates from 1/2006-5/2006, the computer has him listed as a resident only from March on. Everything screeched to a halt. Which document had more authority? What was she going to do? No one was sure, but that didn’t stop her from wondering how many HUNDREDS OF EUROS she was going to fine us for. 300€? Oh no, something like this should be at least 500! No, probably more! It seemed to really excite her, describing the level of punishment we would receive while fitting in little jabs about following the rules.
I was stunned. Jon was stunned. We had no idea this had happened. We had all of our paperwork, everything in triplicate. We thought we had done everything we needed to do, we thought we had finally figured out all of the regeln necessary to happily live in Germany. I started to worry that she could make our residency process more difficult – or have us deported. The baby began to fuss, so I took her out into the hall to toddle around for a while.
Another twenty minutes and the woman led Jon out of the room and down the hall towards the lobby. I scooped up the baby and followed completely unsure of what was going on. They went into another office on the other side of the lobby, came out a few minutes later, exchanging curt good-byes. I was completely bewildered. What had happened? or more importantly, how many euros did we owe?
Nothing. Nothing. Absolutely nichts. Somehow the woman became so fed up with trying to decide whether the passport or the computer was correct, that she told Jon we were free to go. We got our registration, which, by the way, is a very anti-climatic piece of printer-paper with a black stamp. It was over. It was over, and as soon as we left the Bürgeramt, I broke out into tears. It was just so fraught, so unnecessarily, so verklemmt. At least now we could start To settle in, take a couple dozen trips to IKEA, and begin prepare ourselves for the residency meeting.