Fortunately, I rarely have to deal with public officers and therefore tend to forget "how they are": snobbish, rarely helpful and they let you understand who has the power (which is never me - poor little citizen).
Yesterday, I was reminded of their "qualities". I had to go to the Public Notary because my mother needed something to be attested by them (my mother's German is not quite good enough to deal with public officers therefore I went with her). We arrived at the office, greeted each other and I put the form which needed to be signed on the counter between us. He looked at it (not a close look - mind you!) and even before I'd finished telling my story on why and how we needed this form signed, he said: "Oh, no, no, we don't attest anything on forms that we don't know. And I have never seen such a form. This is not for us."
I HATE IT when they do this BEFORE EVEN READING OR HAVING A CLOSER LOOK. It always leaves the impression of: f... off, you interrupt my sweet doing nothing. I don't want to work. I am getting paid anyway... (working in a private sector would probably kill them ... or they'd be unemployed SMILE).
For three seconds I said nothing at all (you see? all the Yoga and Qi Gong courses are good for something. I remained silent and DIDN'T speak my mind). I simply smiled and repeated my request.
He then (and only then!!) took the form, began reading it and without adding any further words disappeared in the office behind him. Couple of minutes later he was back - asking some questions on the why and how. Disappeared again. Five minutes later he was back again - this time the form was signed and filled in.
I thought: easy, you see? Why not do it immediately?
At this point he began writing in a big book where he needed to put my mother's name, address and the nature of "their service". He looked up and asked with a (not too friendly) voice which was my mother's maiden name. The look he gave us was ... painful ... because my mother's maiden name is ... Italian and rather long.
I thought, sarcastically: poor little guy! Now on top of working (half an hour before office closing) you have to write a name in Italian! But I kept my calm and answered his question.
Then he said: "Aren't Italian passports signed like ours?" (emphasis on ours - you got that, right?)
Oh my God, I wanted to yell at him, believe me! But (again) I kept my calm, showed him the page in the passport where the signature is and he continued writing in his big book.
Finally, he handed us the form, we paid and left. I even managed a smile while saying good-bye.
PS: I should have told him that MY taxes pay HIS salary but hey, I am a zen girl and don't get nasty :-)