And they were!
Twice, in fact, and from a distance.
In light of our difficulties with everything administrative whilst living in France, I felt almost foolish sending a document from Australia to France, asking for it to be dealt with and sent back to me. I agree that this sounds possible, even perplexingly easy but I was supposed to include a stamped (French of course) self-addressed envelope. How, when living abroad does one do that? The kind lady at the Australia Post office did not know and I was sure that FedEx representatives would not be inclined to hang around until such time as my document appeared on the top of an in-tray in an office (which I was not even sure was the right one) and was handed back to them. So, what to do?
Send it off anyway, and take the path of lowest expectation. This was our modus operandi in France, too. After all, if you expect nothing then you can't be disappointed and you get a wonderful opportunity to celebrate if something actually goes right.
I marked my envelope send-off date in my diary and put a note to myself for two weeks thereafter to remind myself to think again of the problem, hoping that in the meantime, another solution might have waltzed into view. And, it did. In the form of a rain-soaked, soggy envelope bearing a recognisable (mine) scrawl. I was all happiness and hope. Delicately, in light of the sogginess, I tore it open.
Nous avons le regret de vous informer qu'il n' a pas été possible de ...pour les raisons suivantes
Right. Not really there to help after all.
But, wait. What was the reason that I was not able to receive help? According to my personalised letter, sent in my un-stamped envelope, it wasn't needed.
I still can't believe (but am thankful) that my un-paid-for envelope was kindly sent back. The problem is I now have to take this French letter to the Italian authorities who asked me for it in the first place and tell them that the French government told me that it was not. Not sure that that is going to work in any language, with or without postage.
Wish me luck.