Work-Required Medical Check-Up

When you live and work in Peru, your company/ organization has the legal obligation to check your health every two years.  It is rather ridiculous.

This morning I arrived Jockey Salud at about 6:50AM and checked in.  The clerk at the counter on the second floor told me to sit down because they were not attending yet.  I sat down.  About five minutes later a different employee told me to go stand in line because they were attending now.  I returned to the first clerk who seemed to not remember telling me to sit down.

First they sent me to get my blood drawn on floor two.  Then they sent me to the sixth floor to have my eyes checked.  The attendant/ doctor/ nurse told me that my glasses are fine for my needs.  I knew this.  What I didn’t know is the name nor title of the person attending me.

Then, still on the 6th floor, I went to be weighed and have my height measured.  This attendant/ doctor/ nurse told me to take off my shoes (very light weight) but keep on the two jackets that I was wearing this chilly morning.  I was told a weight that I have never weighed in my life.  Blood pressure and oxygen saturation also measured, I went to wait in the hall.

The next attendant/ doctor/ nurse listened to my lungs and heart, pressed my stomach, and had me touch my nose with my arms extended.  She made sure I could move my arms and legs.  Then, only looking at the numbers she was handed, told me that my numbers were with in all of the normal ranges.  So far, the only person who looked at me was the eye attendant/ doctor/ nurse.  Ironic?

Then down to the 5th floor to see the psychologist.  I was asked to draw a human figure and copy some figures from another page without erasing.  Before coming to this appointment someone told me to make sure I drew a line for the ground in my picture. Odd.  The psychologist did not tell me his name or title either.  The door said “Psychology.”  When he asked me if I feel stress at work I laughed and said, “I work with 6th graders; it’s part of the job.” He seemed concerned.  We agreed that it was not excessive nor something to be concerned about.

They sent me back to the second floor for a chest X-Ray and told me I could go home.

No names, no titles, very limited eye contact, no explanations about what was going to happen or why we were doing this.

I need to see if I can have my own doctor do this work, look at me, pay attention to me and inform me.   I would be willing to do this on my own time with my own money to not feel like a widget on an assembly line.

The results will be sent to the school.  Will anyone besides me look at the results?  What if I am overweight or need new glasses?  I’m not and I don’t, but what if?  What are the consequences?  Can they fire me for saying no to the tests?  What about for having a fast pulse?  This has never been explained to me.

Maybe we are just going through an assembly line, a legal requirement.

When I returned to school I received an email telling me that I signed in late to work using the fingerprint scanner.  Although that email felt like a real slap in the face from the folks who sent me to this appointment, at least they notice me and noticed I was gone,  unlike the attendants/ doctors/ nurses at Jockey Salud.

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Becoming Peruvian Part 5

73667208-10B9-4342-A387-487EA9B67BF6Letter in hand we headed to Migraciones today.  The trip only took about 35 minutes, starting at 10:15 A.M., from La Molina; so far so good.

We arrived and quickly found Room 5 on the first floor, it’s the one straight ahead in the back, and I got in line to get my number.  The lady handing out numbers told me to go directly to desk 44, just like the letter said, and not wait for my number to be called.  The security guard told me I had to wait for my number to be called.  I waited.

A few minutes later my number was called by the lady at desk 45.  When I got there I asked Raquel about the letter, Mr. José and desk 44.  She said she could help me… and she did.  She found my file and went through the pages putting sticky notes on many of the pages and asking about “Islay,” the district where Mollendo, Peru is located.  Thankfully, Ana Maria was there to answer the questions.  She asked why I had two different passport numbers (the U.S. changed my number a few years ago) and was satisfied with the answer and my showing her my passport.  She did not ask about the names on the marriage certificate.

Questions answered, she showed me the document she had prepared and asked me to check it for accuracy.  I appreciated that.  Then she handed me a pen and I signed three copies of the document that she had prepared.  Then I marked each of the three pages with my fingerprint, right index finger.  She kept the three copies.  I thanked her and headed toward the door where they checked my backpack to see if I was stealing anything.  I wasn’t.

In two months they will call me to set a time for the ceremony.  Then I will become Peruvian.  Based on previous experience, I am expecting the call in three months, or four.  I hope to be proven wrong in my prediction.  Everyone was very nice and the process is in motion.

¡Viva Perú!

Becoming Peruvian Part 4

IMG_0533Today I received an email from Migraciones.  It says that I need to personally go to first floor, room 5 in the Migraciones office.  I have 5 days in which I can go beginning on Friday, March 1, 2018.  The letter says nothing about bringing any documents such as a passport or ID card (but I will bring them anyway).

I am very excited for this next step in the process.  I think I will go on Monday morning; that way I am within the window of 5 working days and I do not have to consider whether the letter means Thursday, March 1 or Friday, March 2, 2018.  By my count, about 55 working days have passed since my application was received.

Stay tuned…

Becoming Peruvian Part 2

The president of Peru has declared 2017 El año de buen servicio al ciudadano. That means, the year of good service to the citizens.

With my Interpol document in hand (see Becoming Peruvian Part 1), along with several other documents, we celebrated Thanksgiving by applying for citizenship. To make life easier, Migraciones Peru publishes a document on its website listing the documents that you will need in order to apply for citizenship. As a matter of fact, they publish two lists, two different lists. They also do not answer their phones. We decided to go with the easier list knowing that public services in Peru are trying to make things easier. It is, after all, the year of good service.

We arrived at Migraciones at 10:45 AM ready for our 11:00 appointment; the taxi ride there took about 45 minutes. They received our documents at about 11:15 and called me in at about 11:35; Ana Maria could not come in, yet. In a cramped office with three desks, an office that also acts as a passageway to additional offices, I met with a kind woman who took her work seriously. At the desk next to us another woman sang along with her headphones; she quieted down when we began talking.

One by one the official went through the documents. Thankfully we had used the correct list. By the end of our meeting Ana Maria was called in and a few changes were necessary:

  • Three of the documents had to be rewritten, she gave me blank copies;
  • I had to talk to the officials downstairs to find out why, according to my entries and departures list from Migraciones Peru, my first entry into Peru was in 2009 but we were married here in 2000 (remember, we are in the office of Migraciones);
  • Ana Maria’s official birth certificate from Mollendo, Peru had to be certified as real in Peru;
  • My marriage certificate had a second last name, my mother’s maiden name, but that name did not appear on any other document, so I have to prove that I am the same person in all of the documents and that my mom is my mom- rest in peace, mom.

Conversation ended, I went downstairs to figure out how I could make corrections to my official entries and departures list.  (While I did that, Ana Maria officially cancelled the appointment we just had so we did not lose the money we paid for the appointment- it was nice we could do that.)  Turns out Migraciones had three different names for me: with and without my middle name, with and without my mom’s maiden name, and with an additional last name of Ley. Who knew? We performed the necessary paperwork to join all three records together. Now my first entry into Peru is listed as 1996. At least I think it has been changed- they would not show me the change on the computer screen. By the way, I still have no personal documents with my mom’s maiden name.

The part about certifying Ana Maria’s official certificate requires no comment. What could I possibly add to certifying an official certificate? It only requires 10 working days and a return trip to RENIEC.

As for the marriage license, back in 2000 when we married, the official filling out the paperwork for the marriage license insisted in putting a second last name. Both Ana Maria and I protested because I have no document that has my mom’s maiden name. The official really insisted and added the name from my birth certificate. Now we have to request the original paperwork from the town where the civil ceremony was held… which is easier than requesting a birth certificate from Minnesota.

If all of this takes longer than a month I will have to begin again at INTERPOL because that document is about to expire. I think our official copy of the marriage certificate already expired; it’s only valid for one month.

A big thanks to Ana Maria who has done most of the work to get me citizenship! Happy Thanksgiving!!

The president of Peru has declared 2017 El año de buen servicio al ciudadano. That means, the year of good service to the citizens. What might a year of bad service look like?

Becoming Peruvian Part 1

Part one began a little over a month ago when I went to Interpol, the International Police here in Lima.  To apply for citizenship I need a document saying that I am not a fugitive wanted for illegal activity in any country. We got in line at 7:00 AM ready for the 8:00 AM opening, the wrong line. Thankfully Ana Maria found the correct line after asking many people and receiving contradictory information. After waiting, getting fingerprinted, waiting, having my teeth checked, waiting, filling out the forms again because the forms we picked up before had changed and also needed to be filled out in a different color, we were finished. We left.

But we weren’t finished. One week later I went back at 7:00 AM to stand in a different line to pick up the document saying that I am not a fugitive. I’m not, by the way (see image). I asked three uniformed people at Interpol which line to stand in and I stood in that line. Again, the wrong one. I was tempted to stand in line by the window that says “Pick up your document here” but I knew better. On my previous visit I had discovered that said window was not where I needed to go, in spite of its label. Including transportation time we had invested 6 hours into this process just at Interpol.  (There are a series of documents needed to get this document and I won’t go into those details.)

Finally, I picked up the Interpol document after showing a picture of my US passport that I had on my phone. I had been told to bring my Peruvian ID (CE) because no one in Peru would request a US passport for a Peruvian document.  Nope, that was wrong- no one except Interpol.  This only took two hours- 1.5 hours in the wrong line and 30 minutes in the correct one.

This document is valid for three months so on my next day off from school I went to Migraciones to apply for citizenship. How hard could it be?

Almost

I almost had a new student last week. Almost.

Here in Lima I am beginning my own business as a teacher of English. I would like it to expand to reading and writing instruction as well but what Peruvians want most is to be able to hold conversations in English and pass standardized tests such as the TOEFL. OK, I can help with that.

With business cards printed I began to advertise in local shops by pinning my card to bulletin boards and talking to some of the shop owners. I don’t want to advertise too far away because traffic here is a bear!

Later that afternoon the phone rang. An unknown number on my new cell phone! It must be a new student; wow, that was quick! I just put the cards up.

“Where are you? I am here in Calle 10. Can I come over now?” the voice on the other end asked rather urgently.

Because I am on 10th street too I answered, “Sure, let’s meet by the flag poles out front in the park.”

A few minutes later we were sitting on the park bench out front discussing English. “Tell me a bit about yourself,” I began.

“I am originally from the Dominican Republic and I am here in Peru with a construction company. The bosses at the company want me to learn English; it is the only way I can rise to the next level. Right now I know hardly any English so I want to start as soon as possible.”

We discussed how best to get started and decided on one hour a day every day Monday through Friday. Then he pulled out his wallet. He wanted to pay me in advance for next week’s classes. I felt uncomfortable with that. When I lived in Chile and began my English teaching business there I found that there were students with whom I could not work so I wanted to have at least one class before any money exchanged hands. As I listened, I also wondered if he were really a Dominican. I lived with a Dominican for three years and this voice sounded different.

The Dominican was rather insistent. He opened his wallet showing two hundred dollar bills saying, “If I pay now I will be more committed to the work of learning English.”

“Sir, I won’t take any money today and I don’t have change.” I was more insistent. “Let’s meet on Monday and see how things go.”

“OK.” We shook hands and he continued on his way.

On Monday evening I showed up at the appointed time and place. No one was there. I called the number he had given me. Wrong number. I almost had a new student. Almost.

What happened, you ask? After many conversations with family and friends here in Lima we came to the conclusion that the Dominican wanted to pay me with counterfeit bills and receive the change in real Peruvian money. I was on the wrong end of a scam. Almost.