Authorization Required

Officer: “Identify yourself!”

Me (taking a selfie): “Yep, it’s me.”

Today I had one of my rare interactions with Romanian authorities. Not entirely unlike similar experiences with their Austrian colleagues, it was enough to elicit this well-known feeling of them

  • messing with me,
  • being incompetent,
  • just blindly following rules without giving them much thought,
  • doing all of the above

So, there I was armed with my (Austrian) passport, all kinds of car papers, official documents showing that I am a Romanian resident, and … two kids (2 and 6 years old, respectively). After a refreshingly short wait, it went like this:

Me: “Buna ziua. Nu vorbesc Romaneste chiar bine … would English work?” (yes, that’s pretty much the extent of my Romanian skills)

Officer: (wiggling his hands) “so – so.”

Me: “Ok, great. I need to pick up some documents for my car.” (Handing over car papers).

O: (Starts looking through a stack of very official-looking papers and – to my enormous relief – pulls one of them out) “Do you have authorization?”

Me: (confused) “err … no. What authorization?”

O: “To allow pick up document.”

Me: “No, but it’s my car, registered at my company.”

O: “Aha. You have authorization?”

Me: (with a sinking feeling) “No, still not …”

O: “You need authorization.”

Me: “But … this authorization could only be given by me.”

O: “Yes”

Me: “… to myself.”

O: “Yes”

Me: “So, I need to write an authorization FROM myself FOR myself?”

O: “Yes”

Me: “Ok … can I do it here?”

O: “Yes”

Me: “Is there a form?”

O: “No. Just write paper.”

Me: “Cool. Is English fine?”

O: “No.”

Me: (against all reason) “German perhaps?”

O: “No.”

Me: “Well, I just ran out of languages.”

O: “Want me to write for you?”

Me: “Yes, that would be REALLY helpful. Thank you.”

O: (starts scribbling, asks for some personal details, then hands five lines of text over to me) “sign here.”

Me: (dutifully signing whatever he wrote) “Thank you so much.”

O: (hands over the much-desired document) “Please”

Me: “Thanks again, have a great day.”

Don’t get me wrong: I am not blaming the guy at all. On the contrary: if he had not offered to help me writing this “authorization”, things would have been much more tedious and complicated.

It’s the fact that you can – and indeed have to – authorize YOURSELF to pick up such documents, which gets me.

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