Although I complained many times about Spanish bureaucracy during the three years that have spent in Valencia, to be fair I have to admit that recently I had some quite positive experiences.
A foreign neighbor, with a comparable family background, well-traveled and aware of the concept that time is money, basically unknown in Spain, recommended me a nearby office of the electricity provider Iberdrola due to the excellent service he had enjoyed there.
Needless to say that I was very skeptical because of what had happened to me before and I had tried three times in vain to contact that company by telephone. After waiting and listening to the same advertisement again and again for ten minutes each time, I was simply cut off.
That morning I arrived there before 10AM, waited for just five minutes and was let in shortly before the official opening hour, which was indeed a very nice surprise to begin with.
The lady that asked what she could do for me, despite being in her 40ies, wasn’t the usual middle-aged, grumpy and sexually frustrated woman I had expected and to my big distress met so many times before.
She was friendly, competent, flexible and definitely willing to help. In less than ten minutes the whole business was done and I felt teleported to Taiwan, where the service at such places is usually excellent.
I told her that if such an attitude would be more common here, I might reconsider my decision to return to Asia ASAP. When I said that she had made my day, she smiled and answered that she also felt happy.
After so many dreadful encounters, I was really surprised and realized that the person which had suggested this branch hadn’t exaggerated at all. But obviously I thought that a swallow doesn’t make a summer.
The next high hurdle to take was the city government, led by the Leftist Pan-Catalanist Joan Ribó, born 1947 in Manresa, Province of Barcelona. Before I have to deal with this regional institution, I usually contact one of my former classmates from the local German School, who has been working there for many years.
As an old friend and a shining example of what a civil servant could and should actually be, he sent me precise information about whom I was supposed to contact right away.
To my utter disbelief, my very first attempt was successful! I immediately was transferred to the person in charge, who was very kind and helpful, even providing some extra advice. Again, in less than ten minutes, I had everything that I needed! Somehow it felt like a dream…
The fact that I will have to provide three documents related to the matter, one of which could still be hand-written, and that they might have their own opinion about my new German online bank didn’t spoil the record!
So is there some hope for Spain after all? Well, let’s not cry victory too soon! To clear up the current mess represents an enormous challenge for all Spaniards, not just people doing the job they are being paid for.