05 June 2009

Customer 729

I was Customer Number 729 yesterday at the Tax Administration Office. A surreal experience, as usual when you have to deal with state officials here.
They are obviously trying to look more European and already have one of those machines that give you a ticket with your number and let you wait under a board with flashing red numbers. So, it is best when you take a seat that would allow you to stare directly at the board and jump immediately after seeing your number... you know, before the person behind the desk has changed their mind. (OK, I am exaggerating, of course).
The funny thing was that the flashing numbers were accompanied by a very beautiful tempting female voice saying, "Customer number 701 please come to desk number 46". I heard it many times until it was my turn (even though the text in the ticket said there were 0 people waiting in line before me). Only the numbers were changing. Customer number 736 going to desk number 28, 726 going to desk 40, 716 to 30...
Strange, I felt as if I was in Gattaka or Brazil. This female voice trying to make you a part of some perfect bureaucratic world. And make you feel grateful for that. And I could here the song in my head. Braaziiiiil...
Luckily everything changed when she called me to desk number 24. I expected that the lady would receive me with a beautiful steely smile, "Welcome on board of the National Revenue Agency. Have a nice stay!" (in fact meaning, "You will die trying to escape but there is no escape, you will spend all your life here trying to get that bloody tax declaration").
No, everything was quick and painful, and then they let you go. It was a guy - one of those you wish you never meet, wearing a fat golden necklace. Instead of saying, "Hello" he thoroughly explained to the other woman in the room how impossibly rude people like me were - people that didn't close the door when they entered a room, they (we) obviously lived like that in their flats, and didn't care that the people in the room were catching a cold because of the draught.
The only thing he said to me, full of suspicion, was, "Are you the manager of that company?" (using of course the informal 'you' in Bulgarian), and then, after studying my ID card, "Sign here".
Quick and painful, I told you. As it is supposed to be. How nice we are still not in "Brazil"...