It isn’t in-ze-pockett yet, as they say in France. I mean that mean work permit. To recap: last Monday, I made a brief appearance at the Labour Department to register an incomplete set of documents and be given a new set of forms to fill in. ‘Go get yourself a new visa in Laos and come back next Monday when your work permit expires,’ I was told.
That I did, at a cost of much boredom, 17,000 baht and two lighters.
This morning, the new set of documents still didn’t pass muster. A few forms were discarded: not needed, though they’d been asked for. The lady officer mumbled something about my two sponsors having to ‘come in person’. I couldn’t figure out whether she was joking (she didn’t look the type) or I had misheard. Later, she gave me a new power-of-attorney form to be filled by them. Go figure.
More important, one financial statement of the company had a line missing at the top fringe of the paper. ‘Phone your office and tell them to send it again by fax.’ She watched me as I wrote down in Thai at speed what the trouble was about and how to solve it.
Followed a search for a working public phone in the building. The two red phones just outside gobbled only cards of some kind, foreign matter to me – and anyway, with forty to fifty people standing or sitting cross-legged on the floor nearby, the noise was deafening. The three blue phones downstairs took coins or rather didn’t, didn’t and didn’t. Officers at the downstairs reception desk told me there was one working ‘over there’, with a large gesture of their left arm. It took me some time to figure out they meant a phone inside the canteen. That one wouldn’t take small coins either. The lady with the broom resting by a table to whom I turned in desperation advised me to feed the monster a ten-baht coin. That worked. No change, but that’s all right: at 9 baht per call it won’t be long before the Department has cashed in enough to have the other phones repaired.
I went back upstairs and reported, was told to go and sit down, was called a minute later to the phone behind the reception desk, was told by Personnel that the relevant document wouldn’t be ready before … In desperation yet again, I had the lady officer come over and take the call herself. After a short exchange between the two powers that be, I was told to come back Friday with all documents ready-no-line-missing and I’d be granted a full-year extension. Wow!
Profuse thanks followed.
In the taxi back, I had second thoughts: a one-year extension of the work permit would mean the same hassle every year in early March, whereas a one-year extension of the visa after the current three-month extension will mean another round of unpleasantness every year at the end of May: having both visa and work permit processed at the same time (which in any case implies another couple of trips one month later) would save on angst and sweat.
On Friday, I’ll respectfully suggest I be granted just three months, in line with the visa. I can’t quite see myself, come 30 May, begging Immigration to please grant me only nine months rather than twelve – all the more so as processing in May rather than March would take care of the hurdle of fiscal documents not being audited in time, the source of my current predicament.