Friday, September 21, 2012

Death and Decay

For a few hours, as I stood in the line at the Bucharest prefecture for getting new licence plates after one of them fell down, I had a single word throbbing in my head like a bad headache: decay.

You see, I went there,in Pipera, near the Oracle offices, only half a year ago and I was amazed of the apparent efficiency of the place. You would go and ask at the Information desk on the proper procedure to solve your particular problem, you would take an order number and you would wait until an electronic display would show your number. You could see that the current number is 1 and that it changes every ten minutes or so, so if you have number 20 you have to return in approximately three hours. The building was new, large, with a lot of parking spaces, lit up inside, with clean toilets; in short everything you would want of a governmental building. I then thought: "Belonging to this European Union thing has its perks". The only problem were these peddlers waiting outside the offices, trying to sell you stuff like covers for documents or supports for licence plates. It reminded one you were in Romania.

This time, the electronic displays were dead. The chairs that were in the hallways for people to sit on where mostly broken, and not because of some sort of vandalism, they were just so badly designed that after sitting on them a few times, their backs would bend. Trying to right them back would strain the metal so in the end they would just fall. Half of the neon lights were defective. The male bathroom was just closed and if you wanted to wash your hands or whatever a written sign would direct you to the first floor. The functionaries, never an example of enthusiasm, managed to look even more despondent and despaired at their job. People would stand in long queues, the old Romanian system, waiting for hours to get to one of the few desks that were occupied in order to sign a few papers. The sound system, that was previously used to announce important messages, was now spewing music from a local radio station. At one time, one of the usual announcements also came out of the speakers, but at a lower volume than the music, so you wouldn't understand anything. A woman in the line got sick and went to sit down. Or she just swindled us in order to keep her spot while not standing in the line.

And thus I have wasted three hours and a half there for a signature and two new licence plates. When I got out of the building a female peddler asked me if I wanted covers for my documents. I said no, and she wished me a nice day. I bought a licence plate support from a guy, happy that I didn't have to go somewhere else for one. He even offered to install it for me, but I did it with my wife, like a couple thing.

In the end, the peddlers were the consistent and efficient ones, being even polite while they serviced you, waiting for people to buy their stuff in order to earn a few euros per day.


Andrei Rinea said...


Siderite said...

Strange indeed, my friend. How things seemed to go on the proper path only to veer back to the past. It gives me hope that we can try and succeed, eventually, only not today. Maybe tomorrow.