Now that I had the proper forms the real work began. I visited a number of departments at both the hospital and the university on multiple occasions and returned with a total of three signatures. It had become apparent that almost every single manager was away on vacation during the final weeks of July. Immediately before the start of Ramadan (August 1st) a number of staff members returned from their holidays and I was fortunate enough to obtain another five signatures before the inevitable slow down approached. By this time I had seen more of the hospital than ever, met people who had never seen me before (and believe me, I stick out) and asked for their signature to state that I didn’t owe them anything. It was all a little confusing, and I make it sound a lot easier than it was. Very rarely did I arrive at an office the first time and be granted a signature, either the person with the authority to sign my paperwork wasn’t there (“after salat” or “maybe tomorrow” were the most frequent responses to my queries) or I was presented with the department’s own form that I needed to fill in and get signed by someone else before a signature would be granted. There was even one department that no one knew about. For that signature I was sent to various offices, only to be told I was in the wrong place and sent somewhere else where I got the same response. In the end I found a very nice man who knew who I needed to find and instead of sending my off somewhere else, called the man and got him to come to me. I have to admit that while the process was frustrating, I did meet some very nice people.
I had one very important signature to procure outside of KSU and that was clearance from my bank. The person who gave me my forms told me to work on getting this signature first because it would take some time to complete. I didn’t quite understand the significance of the advice I was given and instead left it until fairly late. In hindsight I do see why the advice was given because it did take about a week to complete and involved quite a bit of running around.
Getting clearance from the bank seemed fairly simple, as there was a bank branch in the hospital. I visited one afternoon and showed the teller my paperwork but he informed me that he was unable to do it because he was not a manager. He suggested that I visit the bank branch next door and ask to speak with the manager there. When I tried there the man I spoke to said he couldn’t help me and urged me to go to the customer service branch on “Al-Farzdaq Street“, which seemed to be a perfectly reasonable request to him as he knew where it was and perfectly unreasonable to me as I had no idea of the location of said street. Since he offered no further explanation I requested to see the bank manager who stared in confused silence at my paperwork before getting up and asking around what to do with me.
After a few minutes, he came back and informed me that I could start the application for clearance with one of the tellers and would only have to find the customer service branch when it was completed. The reluctant teller, who had tried to persuade me otherwise, took all my details and informed me that it would probably take around 10 days to complete the request, less time if I had no loans or credit cards. Fortunately for me it was only five days later that the bank notified me that my clearance request was complete (by SMS, which was very convenient) and I had to pick up my paperwork from them at the Al-Farzdaq office. I found the mysterious branch by getting into a taxi at the hospital and asking the driver to take me there. He knew where it was because it was only two blocks away, which probably explained the previous teller’s confusion at my inability to understand its location. I defend myself here with the fact that I never drive so I have no reason to even know most street names unless they were necessary navigational aides to getting to a preferred location (this street not being one of them). Of course, upon arriving at the unmarked bank building that housed the customer service branch, I was told that the system was down (a very common occurrence in Saudi). I had no intention of leaving empty handed so I waited for the teller to fix the problem and print out and sign another piece of paper to go with my growing pile of clearance sheets. Paperwork in hand, I walked the two blocks back to the hospital and set about acquiring my final set of signatures, which were mainly from the university administration.