Saturday, October 11, 2008

2nd doctor check and paperwork

Hey hey hey,

It's taken me another week to finally sit down and blog, another week of economic crisis, stock prices dropping, increased insecurity, 401ks becoming 201ks... oh well, we'll take it one day at a time.

The first half of the week was pretty uneventful: work and more work, some short walks around the neighborhood, etc. Wednesday night, I took Marc to the library, we got him a cool little book in Spanish titled "Cocorico" :)

On Thursday we had Marc's regular scheduled checkup with his pediatrician, everything is good, Marc is growing fast and healthy, he's up to 11 Lbs now (5 Kg) and 23 inches (58.5 cm).

That same day, I decided to go to the city hall to request Marc's birth certificate which we need to apply for his passports (Spanish and American). Now, this was quite a frustrating experience, one that tells a lot about how the public services work (or better don't work) in this city... you really have to wonder how Chicago could even consider organizing the Olympic games when it has all these very basic issues (really poor public transportation, poor public services, ...).

Anyway, here's how the story goes. When Marc was born the hospital filled all the registration paper work with the city of Chicago as usual. They gave us a document that we have to fill and mail to request the birth certificate to be sent to us. In that document it was written that processing time is 3 to 4 weeks.... well, 5 weeks later I called the office of vital records, to ask about the status and the lady on the other side of the phone told me that they were still processing requests from July!!!!!! (we are almost in mid October).

I asked her what could I do to get the certificate faster and she told me to go to the city hall to request it person... so I did, this is where things get really messed up. They have 2 offices for vital records, the regular one and one for kids under 6 months old. The second one only opens from 2 pm to 4 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but that small detail is nowhere to be found in any document or even in their website. Most of the people who had already taken a day off from work, obviously decided to stick around until 2 pm, queuing in front of that very tiny office, most of the people actually brought their kids along (again, most of them under 6 months old), I'm glad I didn't. You can imagine the amount of stress in the parents, kids crying... all while the queue kept growing as if we were waiting to buy tickets for the Superbowl.

Once they finally did open things only got worse... the office is tiny and barely has space to sit or stand up, everybody was very crowded with diaper bags and strollers all over the place... you take your number like you would in the deli and wait again..... once your number gets called a rather impolite lady takes your documents and informs you that there's no chance in earth you will get the certificate the same day because they close at 4 pm...

So at the end of the day, after all this waiting in a tiny crowded dirty office you really don't get anything other than their commitment to send you the certificate within 5 business day, now again, they had also committed to attend my initial request within 3 to 4 weeks and we are up to 6... and they are still processing apps from July.... so really, confidence is very low...

It's amazing to witness this is how public services work in the 3rd biggest city in the US, the whole time it felt like I was in some 3rd world country.... one thing is for sure, I will never again complain about bureaucracy in Spain.... all things considered, it turns out things work pretty good back home.

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