Monday, May 17, 2010

in which Vivi forgets that she is a second class citizen

We hit a bit of a snag at the bank last week for the loan for the apartment. Because Stéphane is a fonctionnaire (works for the government) he qualifies to be a member of a private bank with a pretty nice savings account system, so we didn't even bother going to any other banks to get quotes for our loan. The problem was that the person we talked to gave us a bunch of static about my not being French. This happens occasionally, but this is the first time it really threatened to hurt us. There are some people here that think that America is such an amazing country that they can't believe anyone would ever want to leave it, so if I'm here, that means I'm obviously running some kind of scam. She actually said to us that she didn't know if her company could approve our loan because there was the chance that we could move to America, leave our debt behind, and then not fulfill our commitment to repaying our loan.

Yes, that's right, my husband's going to leave his fonctionnaire position (which basically means he can never lose his job unless something really tragic happens) and we're going to abandon our apartment, on which we're putting a thirty percent down payment, and go back to America, where we will have no money, no jobs and very little help from the government to get on our feet. Christ some people can really talk out of their asses, can't they?

I nearly burst into tears of anger and Stéphane wasn't too pleased either, but we soon realized that this woman literally has no idea what she's talking about. Of course, we can't tell her what we really think because she's still standing between us and our loan approval (which still has to be approved by committee, but we are asking for such a small amount it's almost comical) but once it was clear that she won't personally be making any decisions about our loan and she was seriously making stuff up, we calmed down, smiled and nodded, and set an appointment for this Wednesday to finalize our loan request.

Now I'm thinking that maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to try and get my citizenship sooner than later. Not that it would affect this loan, as it takes nearly two years for citizenship to be approved, even if I had all the documents. I wish I could afford to take a quick trip to the States in order to grab all the documents we need and just be done with it. In the meantime I smile and nod and try not to let it bother me that some people do not care that I have a college education and am bilingual, I will always be just a foreigner to them.


Amber said...

That's horrible! I'm sorry to hear that you are having to deal with idiots. I decided to skip all of the nasty bank stuff and go with a courtier for our house since my hubby and I are both in the private sector. So far I haven't run into any problems with our loan but now i'm considering myself lucky! Situations like that make me so angry. I hope the rest of the process goes smoothly so that you can soon be living in your new place!

marion said...
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The Inside Skinny Girl said...

You and Katia really ran into some crazies today, that's for sure. I haven't yet encountered this sort of thing but can only assume it could happen to me too. I also intend to go for citizenship soon as I qualify for it (two more years of marriage, first, thanks to Sarko) but it occurs to me that even if we get citizenship, we'll STILL be foreigners to people like your banker. We'll always get the "oh you have such a cute accent" no matter how good our French may be. We'll always have people resenting us or thinking we're not good enough or people who have wrong ideas about Americans and who will judge us accordingly. We'll always be "different". It won't matter what the paperwork says. I guess we just have to live with that. But it sure sucks.

Guess this is what immigrants to America have to deal with every day.

Doc said...

Odd. We didn't have any snags with our loan either. The fact that I was American and unemployed didn't bother them at all. Of course, the loan was easy. The rest, not so much.

Anonymous said...

hello from another expat in France! Sorry that you had that life sucking woman in front of you, i feel your pain.

I'll be back to read up on fry's adventures... i'm a sucker for bilingual baby stories!

MilkJam said...

I'm going to send it all off today!!! I started receiving the necessary docs the beginning of March, so a total of 3 months if you're on top of everything!

I can't believe you've run into small mindedness like that :-( boo. People in Normandy are sick of the English who buy up tons of property so when I'm mistaken for English I quickly correct them. But they LOOOVE americans around here, especially the older generation!

hang in there, she probably just felt like being bitchy and taking it out on you.

Pardon My French said...

I can't remember if I blogged about this, but something similar (although not exactly the same) happened to me, so you are not the only one. We didn't have a problem with our loan itself (we also had a decent down payment) but it was the mandatory insurance that gave me flack for my US citizenship and was going to increase the cost of our loan significantly.

I do remember that it was infuriating but it ended up working out. They changed their tune a little bit when we asked to see the policy in writing, I think. If you want details, I'll ask hubs because it was a bit of a stressful ordeal but did end up fairly well, -- and since it sounds like that woman was just making stuff up, then I hope it won't be mentioned on Wednesday. Hang in there!

Jennifer said...

I feel for you, Vivi!
It must have been awful to be faced with that kind of undeserved ignorance.
So glad that you two were able to calm down and ignore her. I would have fumed for days!

Anonymous said...

I had a bank loan to buy an apartment and I'm not French and was seperated from my French husband at the time I asked for it. I had no problems but then I wasn't at the 'teachers' bank. I have been in a lot of banks in France and there are several that should be avoided - even by French people.
I've been in France over 20 years, married for 14 years and have never taken out French citizenship. It hasn't made a difference except that every 10 years I have to queue up at the Préfecture for days on end to renew my papers.

fraise said...

The papers aren't hard to get from the US - my family is no longer in touch with me at all (long story, sigh), and I was able to order my parents' birth certificates and my own entirely online. It wasn't very expensive, either. But... getting them translated by a court-approved translator is. Other than that, it's really not too hard.

I too am thinking it's the bank that has a problem... I mean, when I got my loan, I was only American, but did have a CDI, which makes all the difference. Insurance is a bother, however. I had to go through AIG. Luckily it turned out cheaper than the French insurance would have been, heh. (And AIG's insurance activities are still afloat, so all is OK there.)

Vivi said...

Hi fraise. It's important to remember that not all states are equal. I had to pay $50 to get my own birth certificate, because I wasn't able to appear in person and I don't have an American piece of ID other than a passport (which was not accepted, for whatever reason). However, if you know of a centralized website where I can request birth certificates I'd love to know about it.