The electricity board offices here are a bit of a throwback to a previous era. Austere in decoration, staffed largely by very serious people (with one exception we shall introduce you to) and with systems that were probably quite groundbreaking. In the 1950s. Anyway, we queued, as you do out here. And queued. We finally got to the front of the queue to be told we were in the wrong queue. We had to be in the *other* queue. Thankfully, there wasn’t a queue so we thought we’d be dealt with very quickly and be on our way. Not quite as it turned out.
The member of staff couldn’t speak English and our limited Italian and Croatian just weren’t cutting it as we tried to get to grips with the complexities of increasing our electricity supply. But, it turned out there was someone who could speak English and he was summonsed. Unlike all of the other staff, this young man was very smiley and amiable. He didn’t really need to explain that he’d been “to lunch” as his staggering gait and enveloping whiff of wine sort of gave the game away. It was 11.30am. Still, he could speak English, and to be fair he was most helpful. The only real stumbling block came when we couldn’t produce a map showing the plot of land we owned. No problem we thought – we’re actually paying for electricity to the property and had to initially show proof of ownership, so we put this down to him having had a glass too many. No, on the contrary, we had to have the map and we had to go the Katastar (the equivalent of the local Land Registry) and get the map. Once we had the map, we’d be rewarded by paying the electricity board nearly £500 to increase the power supply so that when we had the dishwasher and washing machine on together, we didn’t trip the power.
We have experience of Croatian bureaucracy and know now to try and only do one task at a time. Otherwise we’d end up like our new friend, taking an early lunch at 11.30am. So, it’s taken us three weeks (because we have had other bureaucratic tasks in between) to return to this particular one. But, this morning was bright and sunny and we felt ready for all that HEP could throw at us.
First port of call was to the Katastar to get the map. Forms filled in, signed, all seemed to be going well – until we were advised that we needed now to go to the post office (or to a tobacconist) and buy 15 kunas worth of stamps (the equivalent of £1.75) and bring these back, so that they could be stuck (with a pritstick, I kid you not) on the form we had just filled in and over-stamped with three official stamps. And when all of this had been done, we had to pay another 30 kunas. For what we have no idea. But, we had *the* map. Which looked remarkably like a number of other maps we have in the house folder but which were deemed not quite the right map. But never mind, we had it. And back off to HEP we went to finally increase our electricity supply.
We arrived at 11.15am to find a man waiting outside the door. The blinds were down. We had a feeling what was coming next. Yes, he informed us, they are on their break. They re-open at 11.30am. The whole office shut. For a break. FFS! We knew definitely not to go away and come back as there would be a queue, so we waited. Fair play, at 11.30am the door was unlocked and in we went again. But we were a bit more savvy this time and instead of joining the big queue, we went straight to the other window. The window that deals with increasing your electricity supply. To see a new sign with new opening hours…
8.00am to 11.00am
Yep, you couldn’t make it up. The saga continues. But on the bright side, at least our favourite HEP employee – and new friend – can make an earlier start on his lunch…