This morning I heard the rap-tap-tapping, but I did not realize it was at my door. It was a little more tentative than the average door-knock. Then my phone rang. The gang was gathered on my landing, collecting me for our big meeting with the landlord. The purpose of this meeting: getting some paperwork signed that is a step toward solidifying my legal status on the continent.
There is a lot of fear running around the ex-pat community right now, as Europe tightens its immigration rules and steps up enforcement. Neither Soup Boy nor I are particularly worried about that, but we each have our reasons for wanting to be more compliant. I want to cross borders without worry, and he wants to be able to work for bigger clients who are more of a stickler for paperwork. Soup Boy found a guy who helps people in our situation for a very reasonable fee, but he had one sticking point. He needed a business address. Strangely, this was difficult for him to come by, but when he realized that I would soon be in the same boat, we worked out that we could both use my address. The only catch: the building owner has to sign a document. I didn’t anticipate that my landlord, Otakar Ptáček (rhymes with little bird), would have a problem with that.
MaK made the calls and we set up a meeting. It turns out that Otakar has transferred ownership to his daughter, so it is lucky indeed that she is visiting from the Unites States right now. Papers in hand we trooped into the landlord’s home, directly below mine.
Otakar did not get up to greet us. He sat in his favorite chair, a tissue pressed up against his nose. He had a nosebleed. Not just a little thing, but a big ol’ nosebleed that had been going on for two hours. His medication had changed recently, which may or may not have been a contributor. Still, we forged ahead with the meeting, making our way through documents that, while simple, carried just enough ambiguity to cause errors. As with every czech transaction, there must first come a lengthy discussion of the task and it’s reflection on the world as a whole.
Then Otakar started hacking and spitting blood. There was talk of an ambulance and hospital, but Otakar insisted that if he was going to see the doctor he would drive. His coughing subsided and some semblance of normalcy prevailed. We continued to wrestle with the documents.
Finally we were as done as we were going to get (there was a search for an ID number that had Otakar up and moving furniture), and it was time to go. Otakar was back in his chair, looking small, a new tissue over his nose.
I later met with the Visa consultant, and because Soup Boy managed to put together a group, we got a pretty deep discount. Not only that, but much of the haze of confusion about the whole process has been lifted. It almost seems possible, now.