Now that it's after August 15, I am in possession of all the proper documents to apply for my residency permit, so I went to the Prefecture this morning.
When I got in line (the right line!) at 7:45 am, there were already about 35 people ahead of me. (The line begins to be admitted to the building at 9:00 am.) When we were admitted, I was given a ticket with the number of S700, which meant that I was the very first person in line for a residency permit attached to a scientific visa/research visa. (Ie, none of the 35 persons in front of me would be dealt with by the same administrator as the one I needed.)
Despite that, my number was not called until 9:35 am and when I went to the proper window, the same man who had been giving out tickets was the one processing my application. In other words, he had been giving out tickets for the past half hour, so there was no way that I would have been called any sooner than 9:30 -- though if I had arrived later than I did, I could have been waiting substantially longer than I did.
The process took about 25 minutes. He first asked if my dossier was complete in a very serious and almost cranky tone of voice, making me quite glad that he was not the person I encountered the first time I went to the Prefecture! I told him that I believed it to be and mentioned that the last time I was there, I was told that the only thing I needed was a translation of my marriage license, which I kind of waved at him.
He asked for my passport, which I gave him. He told me that he'd never heard of Bozeman, Montana and it must be a very small town. I told him that there aren't any big towns in Montana. He said, "Yes, just a lot of open space." I said, "But it is beautiful country..." He said, "If you like open space and you don't like big cities." Fair enough, but probably not as friendly as the last bureaucrat.
He looked at the copies, then asked if I had the originals. I said I did and started to pass the packet of them over. He gave a wave as if to say, "Whatever. I don't need them. I just need to know that you have them." He then confirmed that I'd been married in Saint Louis (not Las Vegas, he said, offering me a glimpse of a sense of humor...) and confirmed that I have four (yes, four) children.
It took him awhile to fill out all the forms -- and pass them over to me to sign, but by the end, he had warmed up substantially. When he was careful to note that my first two signatures had to remain within the limits of the box, I asked if there were any requirements about where I ought to put the final signature. He smiled and dryly said "No. Feel free to express yourself."
By 10:00 am, I was in possession of a paper certifying that I have applied for my residency permit. And no one ever even glanced at the very expensive translation of my marriage licence, which took me hours to arrange.