The process to get a visa to live in Slovakia has changed every time we have had to apply. This time marks the fifth time we've been through the process - not including change of address or replacing stolen documents. Today I went to deliver the last of our required documents. Usually the wait outside the door is a test of endurance. In the last two weeks, I've spent about ten hours sitting outside the door for a total of 20 minutes of face time with the workers behind the door.
Today was such a pleasant surprise when the most senior person in the office - we worked with her the very first time we applied in 2004 - came out and recognized me. She greeted me very warmly and called a Turkish student into her office. She turned around and pointed at me and said "Mr McNary" is next.
It's just a little thing, but the joy of being recognized, the feeling of belonging when called by name, the warm greeting helped transform the sterile hallway outside the Foreigner Police office into a joyful community. While I don't eagerly look forward to returning next week with the rest of my paperwork, I'm not fretting it quite as bad now either.