N.I.E. - Numero de Intentidad de Extranjero - Basically a certificate that has a unique number on it and your name too.
Any European who wants to legally work in Spain needs a NIE. So it was essential I get one as soon as possible. Realistically speaking it takes about an hour to sort out. It took me 63 days to do this. That is not good. I'm pretty sure it took less time for Frodo to trek all the way to Mordor and back, not to mention having to deal with the deadliest of evils and going through some major character development. In 63 days the only evil I've had to battle is my bank account, and the major character progression has been learning to stay away from the prostitutes on la Rambla, which I'm still getting the hang of. At this rate I'll be lucky to have a job before I retire.
To be fair I've had plenty of distractions. Visitors, the beach, walking around, and of course I've been really busy eating three meals a day, every day. In all honesty I have no decent excuse. It just became something I kept putting off (like that guy in North Korea, Kim Lapsang-Souchong blowing up the world). My main antagonist in this quest was having to wake up early, the office opens at 9am and closes at 2pm, thats a small window of opportunity for a fellow like me.
Another problem was the internet.
Now I love the internet, I can't imagine having to pay for things like pornography or classified CIA documents (more often than not, the same thing). But sometimes when you are looking for some simple information it can be ridiculous.
I was trying to find out what was needed to get this NIE, and I must have consulted about 10 different websites. All completely contradicting themselves. Some sites offered a printable version of the form so I could be ahead of the game, the problem? Each site had a different form. One site said I needed to go to one side of Barcelona in the morning, another told me a different office in the afternoon, then there the ones that said things about the police station, but they kept saying different police stations. Turns out it was a police station, in the morning. But what to bring? Oh, what to bring. Passports, photocopies of passports, photocopies of photocopies, driving licenses, bank statements, dna, children, cakes? Just a passport and a photocopy as it turns out.
So on this day, I awoke at 6.30. Completely unnecessary. The office opened at 9am, I have no idea why I awoke at this time. Was I nervous? Not particularly when I woke up, but whilst lying in bed for 2 hours awake before leaving, I had time to think. "What if I get lost?" "What if I really can't understand what they are saying (I get this all the time)?" "What if they laugh at my passport photo?"
Anyway I nervously arrived at Barceloneta, I practically counted the steps to the police station. Then counted the steps back to the photocopy shop i accidentally walked past.
So this is me. When I know that I have to speak Spanish, I get a little bit nervous, little bit excited. I never know whats going to happen, it could be amazing, it could be shockerama. And then. The photocopy place happened. I was excited this time, the girl was fairly hot and all the signs were good. I gave her a mug of my verbal tea. She just nodded, took my passport, photocopied it and rang it up on the till. At the time I was not impressed, I wanted at least a bit of a response, just "hola" and a smile would have sufficed. However, in retrospect I can understand. She works in a photocopy shop where the most money she ever rings up on the till is fifteen eurocents, that must be a bit depressing.
I went back to the police station and began the waiting game. There was a police officer manning the queue. If there was ever a reason why the police are referred to as pigs, by street thugs such as you and I, this officer was it. I don't mean to be rude, if anything he was a bit cute and cuddly, but his neck fat was bigger than his face and he looked like he belonged on a barbecue.
Then I went through all the bureaucratic procedures, filled everything out, paid my ten euros at the bank, and returned to the police station for my certificate. There is no point lying, by the end of it I was basically on the same MDMA from bestival 2007. I was extremely happy. The clerk behind the desk looked genuinely happy for me too, and him smiling made me feel happier still. I was so happy that on my way out I squeezed Piggy McPig on the shoulder and said "gracias", he looked at me with contempt. He was not impressed. No one touches Piggy McPig. His glare took me from bestival MDMA to cheap pills in an instant. Oh well, I was super high for a few seconds and it was lovely.
Now I can apply for jobs...