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The Value Of Good Help July 1, 2007

Posted by gordonwatts in physics life, travel.

It isn’t easy to find. Paula, Julia, and I went to San Francisco to visit the French embassy at the beginning of this week. We needed to get visa’s for our upcoming trip. When we arrived we were about 5th in line. We could hear the conversations of the other applicants. In almost all cases it sounded like the embassy officials were looking for reasons to deny the visa applications. Missing documents, or documents that didn’t have the exact wording. It sounded horrible. Then we got up. Oh yes, all your documents have already arrived. What? you don’t have a copy of your plane ticket — there is an Internet cafe just down the street, why not jog down there and bring it back, no problem!

Towards the end we were let in on why things had gone so smoothly. CPPM in Marseille is hosting me. They have an assistant, Fanny, who is in charge of smoothing the way through the not-inconsiderable French bureaucracy for people like me. The embassy officials said things like “she really knows what she is doing.” And “she is amazingly efficient.” (Thanks Fanny). It seemed like it turned them into trying to make it work for us rather than the other way around.

On the other end, CERN was supposed to generate some documents and get them to the embassy to help get our students French visas. It didn’t work. They both got booted out of the embassy. Fanny beat all of CERN (to be fair, CERN handles a huge number of these, so the comparison isn’t really relevant, and, by-and-in-large they do a fantastic job there too).

At any rate, if there is someone who is supporting the work you do and is really good make sure they know it! You can’t imagine how difficult life is without them… Don’t get me started on our group’s current lack of admin… 🙂



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