I had to go to the Foreigners’ Police today because I had to replace my green card, which finally fell apart after being in my pocket for the last few years.

Once, when pulled over by police, I was nearly arrested because I didn’t have my green card – it’s actually a passport-sized book – on my person. Ever since, it hasn’t left my back pocket.

The Czech Foreigners’ Police is a truly oppressive place. Partly that’s due to the truly hideous architecture of the place, with long hallways full of locked doors, and partly it’s due to the fact that the place is always packed wall-to-wall with people who couldn’t form a line if their lives depended on it.

I’m always surprised about the general quality of most people at the place; anyone thinking that most foreigners in the Czech Republic are Volvo-driving corporate attorneys would be quickly disabused of that notion within five minutes.

The big change at the Foreigners’ Police this time around was that the doors now have plate glass windows, so that presumably you could see what the people inside were doing; maybe this is a disincentive to bribery too.

Once inside one of the cubicle-sized offices, I was quickly handed my new green card, but was somewhat disappointed that it was exactly the same as the one before it; no circle of gold stars on a blue field, no “European Union” in embossed gold, no difference whatsoever.

But I’ve got it, and am nice and legal once again.

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