Tuesday, 9 March 2010

I HATE Belgium

I HATE Belgium. Officially. I HATE the constant summons to the Commune, to be snubbed by some fat, pea-brained Belgian local government pen-pusher with a large salary and no sense of initiative*. I HATE being asked to provide a different document each time and then when I arrive being told that it's the wrong one and I am late and I should have brought Annex X blah blah blah.

I HATE that I have to pay over two thousand euros in social security per year - effectively paying the salaries and child benefits of the fat, brainless local government penpushers - when I have absolutely no intention of retiring here or withdrawing a Belgian state pension.

I HATE the look of simple contempt I got from the fat local government penpusher this morning, simply for being a foreign woman who dared to speak up to him in his own language.

P: Here, my declaration of revenue for last year. Hands over tax declaration.
Fat official: That's no good. I need a monthly declaration.
P: Divide it by twelve! It's a valid declaration of my earnings.
Fat official: It doesn't count. You need a monthly declaration.

Please note, that the Fat, Stupid Official simply kept repeating the same words, over and over, without attempting to explain or justify anything. Because when your salary and social security contributions are guaranteed for life by the Belgian government, you don't have to be polite to people or to think outside the box. No-one is going to fire him, it's too difficult. All he has to do is slump like a fat dollop of stoemp in front of his computer all day and be obnoxious to foreign girls.

See what I mean?! Fat and stupid, all of them. I spend my hard-earned euros here, in their country, paying their extortionate sales VAT rate, and there they are, treating me like a piece of dirt on the bottom of their shoes!

I HATE that - although I have every right to be here, as a European citizen with freedom of movement - they decide to make it as difficult as possible for me to function here. Why do I need to register anyway? I pay my rent, I have enough to eat, why do I need one of your silly little identity cards when I have a perfectly good British passport thank you? And what makes you think I'm so desperate to be a Belgian resident anyway? I would love it if work were located in London and I could simply bypass all this ridiculous bureaucracy altogether. Believe me, I am not here for fun!

I HATE that the 'Capital of Europe' has to be this bureaucratically pedantic little city, when it could be in Paris, Florence, London, Kraków, Berlin... Europe has so many beautiful and lively cities. Why does it have to be hateful Belgium?!

I HATE Belgium!

*what did you think I was going to say?!

17 comments:

Lilacspecs said...

*cringe*
I can agree with you on the paperwork angle, definitely, although no one in Flanders has ever been mean or contemptuous to me for speaking in Dutch, so that's a francophone thing, not a "Belgian" thing.
And as far as the fat thing, well, I'm fatter than most Belgians, so I can't say much about that either.

I'm so so sorry you're feeling frustrated with all of this.

Frances said...

Hurrah! Well, not hurrah, obviously, but you put it so well, and I agree with every single bit. It is all so so wrong, and so frustrating that NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE.

Would you like some cake this week?

pinolona said...

Korie - you're not fat, you look great! anyway, I'm not exactly qualified to comment on people's appearances, in this case I was just pissed off with the guy.
What I mean is that this guy was just sitting there, with his beer gut (guilty), like a big soggy lump, saying 'bah' and 'bof' like francophones do when they don't want to have to think about something, and it was so frustrating!! When I say fat, I mean sort of lumpen and immobile, as in 'I'm a Belgian Civil Servant and I can sit here and have my social security paid until the day I retire and never have to think for myself again'.
The first time I went I spoke to the flem-o-phones and they were a lot nicer come to think of it...

Frances, yes cake would be great, will email :)

dragondays said...

This is why I hope we will escape this flat country and go back to England - never thought I would say that!

thestuffinbetween said...

I think you're extremely brave and intelligent in the first place for doing all that you do, if that is any consolation. So I wish you all the best; hopefully, the answer will come.

Jeannie

peixote said...

Chi si scusa, s`accusa. It`s official now - YOU DON`T LIKE FAT PEOPLE. And I choose to take offence :-)

Let`s see you try to wriggle out of that one :-)

Biggles said...

This wouldn't be the time to ask why you've decided to become resident, would it...? Red tape is awful anywhere - just take a deep breath and believe it'll all be worth it in the end. *hug*

Anonymous said...

Brussels is pretty violent. I would never move there.

Michael Dembinski said...

Saw Belgium in half. Give the top bit back to the Netherlands and the bottom bit back to France. Both countries will be delighted, as will the Flems and Walloons.

Leave Belgium as the federal capital of the EU, but let it be run by the Irish and Estonians. Low taxes, low bureaucracy.

Your description of Belgium makes Poland look like a paragon of efficiency!

pinolona said...

Anon - not too bad so far...

Michael: um... I'm not sure they would actually. Belgians can be pretty scathing about the Dutch and French. And please don't forget the German-speaking minority in the border regions near Aachen.
Let it be run by the UK and Luxembourg.

I actually had far fewer bureaucratic problems in Poland, although admittedly to start with I was working for a company, which makes everything easier, and the second time I was pretending not to be there...
I liked the PIT online the second year I was there: that worked pretty well actually. Belgium take note!!
I really delight in going to 'Western' European countries (e.g. Italy, much as I love it there) and pointing out how much more efficient things are in Poland (eg in Verona airport you can't use a credit card in departures, etc, etc).

katy said...

as another lucky gal having lived through the bureaucracy of both places - and being non-EU at that - Poland wins. Every time. I think it's because Belgium has 7 governments...

polkaontheisland said...

On a bright note: it appears that Belgian officials act like Tesco's cashiers. That could brighten your day - in England the fat guys would only get till jobs ;)

Anonymous said...

The worst is the solfege. The biggest waste of time on this planet. If I hadn't been made to do solfege for 5 years, I wouldn't find Belgium so bad. But all you have to do to make an individual hate Belgium is send them to one of the delightful music theory classes:)

pinolona said...

oh dear, sounds like good times there. I also had to study music theory and take exams so I'm with you on this one.

Anonymous said...

good point !

I sometimes wished i just dreamed what just happend... but it was real... it's just crazy... well.. what can you do... different culture, different manners... i live with them and laugh when applicable...

AND YES SOLFEGE IS THE WORST POSSIBLE THING EVER ON EARTH...
ESPECIALLY WHEN THE TEACHER GOES TO YOUR PARENTS DUE TO INNAPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR!!!

Ang said...

Sister, I feel your pain. Just Googled "I hate Belgium" and found this posting. As required, I went to my commune last August, a day after arriving in Brussels, to apply for an identity card. Over three months later, I am still waiting for an APPOINTMENT to be approved for the stupid card. Meanwhile I have been informed that my visa has expired.

The officials at my commune say they are overwhelmed with applications and won't be calling me in time for me to visit my family for Christmas, even though I have already purchased airline tickets.

Good heavens, and I thought government zombies in the U.S. were corrupt and worthless. Good to know Americans don't have a lock on government inefficency!

pinolona said...

Oh gosh I'm sorry about that. I almost didn't make it back for Christmas myself last year so I can imagine how miserable it must feel!

However. Since writing this post, Belgium (Brussels in particular) has been growing on me. And I'm a bit sad that so many people come to my blog by googling the words 'I hate Belgium' (yes, I can see you!). So I'm going to have to find a way to spread a little Belgium (or at least Brussels)-love some time in the near future...