Kleinchik Invitational 2008
THE RETURN OF THE KLEINCHIK INVITATIONAL
NOTE: The winners are posted at the end of the contest!!!
In all our previous trips we have not had any reason to need the services of the US embassy that is located a short 10-minute walk from the apartment we rent. This trip was different.
Before we left for Rome we had arranged to refinance a house we own. The closing company assured us that all the paperwork would be done and ready to notarize before we left for Rome. It was not. Since we had locked in an interest rate and we were to be gone for one month, the closing company said that they could email the documents to us and we could go to the US embassy in Rome. It turns out that when you are traveling out of the country the only place a US citizen can get a document notarized is at a US embassy.
In order to get an appointment with a notary at the embassy in Rome you need to make an appointment on the embassy website. In Rome the only days for appointments are Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. When the King went on the website to make the appointment there was no way to add the Queen's name but I assumed if I showed the document at the embassy with both our signatures needing to be notarized and her passport then they would let her in with me to sign the papers. (What was I thinking???)
On the appointed hour and day we appeared at the embassy and got in line to go through security. About 12 other people had the same appointment as we did. When we got up to the first guard (Italian) he had a list of names of all people with appointments. I tried to explain to him that the Queen's name was not on the list but she needed to go in with me. He said she could not go in. I went in by myself, searched for an American who looked like he had common sense and had some power clothes on and explained the situation. He went outside and brought the Queen inside. (This guy deserves a medal.)
At the first window we went over the documents with a young lady from Texas. It turned out that we needed to have 8 signatures notarized. (There were over 100 pages that I had needed to get printed out the day before - not an easy task in Rome.) She gave me a slip of paper and sent me to the next window.
This window turned out to be a cashier. He then informed me that the cost for the 8 signatures was going to be $170!!!! It costs $30 for the first signature and $20 for each additional one. I found this hard to believe since in the US you can go into any bank where you have an account and get a document notarized for nothing. In Maryland where the King is a notary I can charge up to $2 for a signature!! (The King has never charged since he thinks the whole notary business is ridiculous.) It seems like the US embassy was taking advantage of the citizens that find themselves overseas and need to have something notarized - a truly captive client.
We paid the fee (It was going to be reimbursed by the closing company so it was not coming out of our pocket) and went to the next window. Here a consular official actually did the notarization. He was behind a bulletproof window and talked to us through a loud speaker. I asked him if he was embarrassed to charge a US citizen so much for a notary service. He asked me if I knew what an Italian pays to have something notarized and then informed me that it was 500 euros. I told him that was irrelevant and why would he even bring that up.
It turns out that in Maryland (and I assume other states) anyone who is 21 years of age and has no felony convictions can be a notary. There is no training, no notary school you attend - all you do is apply, raise your hand and swear you love the country and the constitution, pay your $11 fee and you are a notary. In Italy, being a notary is like entering a profession except it is passed on from generation to generation. You do have to go to school and you are almost a lawyer when you finish.
The discussion became heated and he told me to write my congressman since Congress makes up the fees. I told him that this was the American Citizen Services Office and they were not offering a service but were raping the citizens.
AND FINALLY THE CONTEST
So here is the contest - we need to rename the American Citizen Service Office so that people who have to use the office know what to expect. Come up with a new name that reflects on the fact they are charging so much and taking advantage of citizens in need of this service. Good acronyms for the office get bonus points. We are going to send the winning name that is selected to both our senators and congressperson.
The usual Kleinchik Invitational rules apply:
You may submit as many entries as you want.
The King and Queen will judge which of the entries is the funniest.
The King and Queen like scatological, sixth grade humor.
Any entry and/or email about the contest can be used at the discretion of the King and Queen.
NOTE: Last year there were many people who entered and complained when their entry was not selected as the winner. Remember, this is a very subjective contest and is judged solely on the taste (or lack of taste) of the King and Queen. Also note that some underage individuals may be reading this website so the King and Queen sometimes need to be careful with the responses they publish.
AND THE WINNER IS:
Well before we get to the winner here is an email from my cousin Beverly from New York:
As to the Notary requirements, you are way off base. Being a notary, I can speak to that. In New Jersey a congressman appoints you, but in New York you must take a test. More so, the responsibility that goes with it is awesome and scary. You can be fined, go to jail, owe thousands of dollars for acting improperly, etc. etc. I took my notary (and still do) very, very seriously and am happy that I am no longer a title closer responsible for other peoples deeds, mortgages, etc. I have even had my notary stamp stolen and used to notarize illegal deeds and had to have my handwriting analyzed (even thou they knew it wasn't me), been visited by Nassau Co. Detectives, etc. etc. I am sure some people take the license lightly; I felt a great deal of weight and responsibility behind it.
I must apologize to my cousin and all the other notaries out there. I was only trying to say that the charges at the Rome embassy were outrageous and that the Maryland notary procedures were not very good. I have learned that it is very different from state to state.
AND THE WINNER IS:
Jen Norris (Running Friend):
CRAP Consulate for Rip-off of American Persons
CRAAP Cash Reduction of All American Persons
RIPOFF Repugnant Italian Protectorate Of Foreigner Fleecing
FCKRS Frustration Central and Kickback Reward Services
SHITS Shamelessly Hostile Italian Tourist Services
FUBAR Flagrant Use of Bait-n-switch on American Residents
The King and Queen obviously liked these entries because they were `ribald' and dirty. Jen will be receiving one of the fabulous Kleinchik gifts shortly - that is - as soon as we can figure out what around the house we no longer need.
AND THE WINNER FOR THE FIRST ENTRY IS:
Rozanne (Running Friend and the buyer of a pastry for me every Saturday after running for the last 4 years):
ACES (American Citizen Expatriate Services, aka American Citizen Extortion Services) They are ACES at sucking your money, wasting your time and piling on the rules and paperwork.
AND THE OTHER ENTRIES ARE:
Cookie Martin (The Queen's sister):
DON'T Department of Notary Assholes
DEBT Department of Exploitation of Business Travelers
Ralph Emmons (Biking and Email Friend):
Servicing American Citizens Office (but one might have to be a farmer to understand the subtle meaning) Note: Not being a farmer and knowing no farmers I have missed the meaning of this so someone out there needs to tell me what I am missing.
Bill Steinberg (Friend and fellow theater goer):
America Citizen Farschtupping office Note: For those of you who are `Yiddish' challenged - schtupping means f**king.
Mike Grace (Canadian Friend of the Queen):
ASSININE American Standard Security In Notarizing Ineffective Nonessential Epistles Note: The word "epistle" is from the Greek word epistolos which means a written "letter" addressed to a recipient or recipients, perhaps part of exchanged correspondence. Nowadays this term is usually used in connection with a specific group of books in the New Testament that either were letters or were written in that literary form. "Epistle" is also used to refer to other letters, such as a bishop's open letter to the congregants of his see. Referring to more commonplace letters as epistles is a rather pretentious use of language, but not incorrect. In particular an epistolary novel or story is told in the form of a series of letters. (The previous is from Wikipedia the absolute worst place to get any correct information on the web.)
Kathy Bolland (The Queen's Co-worker from NIH):
ABUSE American Bureau Unitarian Service Embassy
OBTUSE Overseas Bureau of Travel, U.S. Embassy
RUSE Rome U.S. Embassy
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED…. WE LOVE YOU!!!