It was a Planes, Trains… day getting out of he country; heavy rain disrupting rail service north o Utrecht and multiple issues at Schiphol. At least, all of my Dutch practice came to good use as Schiphol-bound trains were delayed, deferred to new tracks, and finally cancelled altogether.
The reader boards flicked new instructions every few minutes, driving the flocks of riders from track to track. Usually it’s easy to follow the flow headed to Schiphol by the sight or sound of their wheeled suitcases. But this time the instructions changed even as trains pulled in: I’m convinced that a hoard of air passengers actually headed to Breda, missing a last minute change).
I’m never sure whether to check that people dragging suitcases onto unlikely destinations actually know where they are going under these circumstances. I correct the people next to me, but it seems intrusive to do more.
At Schiphol, there was a long delay while we sorted out my name: the computer inexplicably dropped the last letter from my first name so that the reservation no longer matched the passport. Then Border Control wanted to check the computer for my IND status. The rules allow six months grace to complete the renewal process, exchanging documents and traveling to get the new card.
Still, I have to go to the immigration office every time I pass Schiphol going either way now. The agent says that their instructions are to pull all expired cards, but he admits this will make the administrative checking even worse.
No question: travel processes are becoming slower and the connections less certain. Everyone seems more worried, more harried, in the waystations and cabins that dot the routes. The friction of passing through gatekeepers and increasingly bureaucratic procedures has become an unavoidable part of doing the long-term expat / international business role.
But if I want the role, accept the role, then I also accept what goes along with it. If I feel like I’m just grinding against it, then it’s time to come off the road.
Until then, I know how the system works, and sometimes how to work the system, allow more time and allocate more patience to work the system these days.
And bring ample reading material.