Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nuts and Bolts

Lest you think that Foreign Service life is all tours of UNESCO heritage sites and fancy receptions, allow me to tell you about this week's project, which should serve to convince you that living in a country is an entirely different beast than merely visiting it.

The car is here. The car! It is here!

So, do you think I'm driving all over town?

No, not yet. Maybe not for awhile. Maybe not ever.

Today I spent the better part of the morning with busywork related to getting the car street legal. I found the keys, which was no small feat, considering I'd tucked them away somewhere safe, way back in early June, in another country. I found the car on the compound and took it to get gassed up. Funny story: I chatted with the gas station attendant for 5 minutes while the tank was filling (it's a big tank). Nice guy. When it was finished, he replaced the nozzle, turned to me and said - in Russian - "so, you speak Russian?" Ummm. Yeah. Yeah, I guess I must speak Russian, because these last five minutes, we were talking to each other. In Russian. Am I right?

Next I drove it to the Embassy mechanic's bay, where they have to do some sort of inspection and put on the license plates. But the Russian license plate won't fit on my car, so I had to go to another office to request and pay for some sort of an extender doohickey that will make the plate fit the car. (Important aside: yes, I realize that I am fortunate to have people at the Embassy who can help me navigate these things. Thank you in advance for not emailing me to tell me how very lucky I am.)

After that I went to the bank and took out two zilliondy rubles in order to pay for an official inspection and local liability insurance (we have international coverage, through Clements, in case you were wondering, but we're also required to buy a local policy).

Then I went home and drank a bucket of coffee to get warm. It was cold outside at that gas station!

Next I went to yet another office to make copies of our American driver's licenses and Russian diplomatic cards, both of which are necessary to register the car. But I couldn't turn them in, because I forgot to print out a copy of my Clements insurance policy. Home again, then, to search for the policy and email it to Bart, because do you think my printer is up and running yet? Ha! I could probably plug it in and fire it up, but that would only serve to remind me that I don't have any ink cartridges for it, which would send me on another chase that I simply don't have time for today.

That's okay, though, because I got to drink more coffee and check my email. Which is how I discovered that, congratulations!, the Russian government has decided it will no longer honor U.S. driver licenses and now I need to apply for a Russian one, which means I need to make more copies of more things and pay more money and get more ID photos taken and...

But first I need to get the car to the Moscow inspection place, which I'm told is "not far away, but not easy to find." I will need to do this some time this week or next, after I get the car back from the Embassy mechanic. I will need to do this in Russian. I speak Russian, but I don't speak car, so we'll see how that goes. At this not-far-but-not-findable inspection place, I will pay more money and hopefully remember to bring all of the necessary papers so that the car is finally drivable.

But not drivable by me, if I understand the regulations correctly, unless and until my husband gives me a power of attorney stating that I am allowed to drive his car. You know, the one we chose and bought together. It's considered his car alone here in Russia.

After that, I can go get the driver's license, which I'm told will involve an approximately 4-hour round trip to the Russian version of the DMV (can you even imagine?) and some more money and papers and things and only then will we be allowed to legally drive the car to its parking space in a lot some 15 minutes' walk away from the Embassy, where it will likely sit quietly for 352 days out of the year because, really, when you get right down to it, using the metro here is a helluva lot more convenient than driving, most of the time.


JWJones said... [Reply]

Don't you just love paperwork? Good luck (how does one say it in Russian?)

Please. Write your own stuff.