Well what a week it has been! Sarah has been busy organizing the children into schools and has left me the simple task of sorting out my Social Security Number and the driving licenses… which should have been very straightforward until some little thing they call the Patriot act…
Increased security is something that we are all having to learn to live with but sometimes you can be caught on the wrong side of the system through no fault of your own.
I went along to get my SSN which will allow me to, amongst other things, pay taxes… I was in no hurry! Neither it would seem are the American government! When they say everything in America is bigger they also mean the quantity of red tape! I have a visa in my passport which says that I am allowed to live and work here, that was enough for the border officials to let us all in, but it is not enough for the Social Security office. They have to check that I have a visa and merely showing it to them is not enough. How do they check? well first they send an email and if they haven`t had a reply within 14 days they resort to writing a letter! Someone give these people a telephone!!!! Now you may wonder why this is important to a self employed person like me as no-one (apart from the tax man) is interested in those 9 digits. Without a SSN you can`t get a drivers license and without a drivers license you don`t exist. If you want a mobile phone, a bank account, a gas supplier, a library card, rent a house, etc they all want to see your license.
After much research we finally discovered that you can get a license without a SSN but you need about 17 documents proving that you are who you say you are, that you should be here, that no-one minds you being here, and amongst the pieces of paper they ask you to produce to prove the above are a mobile phone bill, a gas bill, a tenancy agreement and a bank statement!!!! If the right hand only spoke to the left hand this would be so much easier.
Anyway we are now 3 weeks in to this trip and still no paperwork. I still haven`t got a SSN and we still haven`t got drivers licenses… but we are getting closer. We found that we could get our driving licenses with other paperwork and we thought we have finally got it all together. Mainly by renting my brothers house so we had a tenancy agreement (that also means he can throw us out legally). But we were foiled again as the tenancy agreement has to be from a company not an individual, but it does not say that on any of the paperwork.
The very nice lady at the secretary of states office finally worked out that we could use a gas bill in my brothers name, his birth certificate, my birth certificate (showing the same parents) and a marriage cert to show Sarah was also attached to the clan, and I had to take my brother as well! Just in case and partly for the hell of it I asked if we would need anything else. `Without a touch of the irony that the Americans are not famous for she said `make sure your brother has his license with him`
So tomorrow we will return again to the office with all of the above. And hopefully leave with a drivers license. That is as long as we manage to pass the written test!
Andi it has been snowing again!
And then we have to do a driving test!
But we have a car (Chrysler Voyager) which is the same as the car that drove us to Heathrow airport 3 weeks ago! And we have mobile phones (in Colin`s name) and all of this would have been next to impossible without the family being here to help.
Someone go and ask Rakki and Sarah Bogen if arriving in the UK are as much fun as this!