Tuesday, November 29, 2011

‘Computer says Nooooooooo!’

Moving states is an administrative nightmare. It is as troublesome as moving from a foreign country, although moving from North Carolina to Texas is moving to a foreign country and there are many Texans who still refuse to acknowledge they are part of the United States. The Lone Star State! It still hurts that they are not the Republic of Texas! To their credit though Texas is the only state allowed to fly its flag at the same height as the American flag. I like Texas. It has an identity. Everywhere flies the Texan flag. I don’t even know what the flag of North Carolina looks like. I bet some of those Texan flags fly a tiny bit higher than the American flag! Rebels! The children make two pledges every morning now; one to America and one to Texas.
Sadly, Texas isn’t a republic. It has the same brand of federal agents as everywhere else. In fact, it is one thing that the USA has in common with the UK, its Civil Servants do anything but serve. There is an IQ bar in America to work for the Federal Government; over 80 and you have no chance of a job. I have had a few too many encounters of federal workers over the last few weeks just to legally drive in Texas.
Firstly, I had to register my car in Texas. This involved getting a state inspection to say it was acceptable for Texas, reinsuring it for Texas and then re-registering it with Texan number plates. I got one of those hideous Déjà vu moments. Having never seen the woman behind the counter before, I got that weird feeling I had seen her in every government building I had ever been in; 40 something, too old to have ‘never been cut’ hair and funky goth rings and black nail varnish on, puppies spilling out of her Indian cotton gypsy top and a face like a slapped arse.
‘Computer said Noooooo!’ I didn’t have the correct paperwork. Déjà vu again! I have never registered a car in the states before and I had scrupulously checked what I needed but of course, there is always something. I felt like I had been here before.
Finally with shiny new Texan plates on my car I went to get a new drivers licence. We waited 3 hours and these places are never in nice parts of town. I had all the documentation. I had double checked on the website. I was only swapping a North Carolina licence for a Texan one.
‘Computer said nooooo!’. I hadn’t got my social Security card with me. I couldn’t have got the NC licence without it. I had a copy of it. I said ‘I’m just swapping from NC’. This made the Texan lady angry. Funny, I have seen her in every government office I have ever been in too; 50-something, dyed reddish hair piled high on her head and full of anger.  A university of Michigan study found women who expressed anger (at their husbands) lived 10 years longer than women who squelched it. She was gonna live for ever if this was anything to go by. She told me they couldn’t accept anything from North Carolina which is why she needed my SS card. …talking of SS….she reminded me of a high ranking officer!  I was too scared to tell her that Texas and NC were part of the same country.
I went home to get my SS card. Couldn’t find it anywhere. I had kept it in a special place until I moved and then put it in a new special place. Very special and very safe. Bugger! Another trip to another Federal office. There was cheerful 20-something who hadn’t been broken by repetition and the power she could wield over people like me yet. She would conform to it eventually or go crazy. There are a few zany government workers – one in every office – usually male, red trousers, 70’s perm and mis-matched socks who tell jokes only they laugh at. She was so jolly when she told me ‘Computer said noooo’ and I hadn’t got the correct paper work that I couldn’t be cross. I hope she turns zany and not just mean! To replace my SS card I needed all the paperwork I needed in the first place. Why? It is all on the system but the computer said no! I am a non-entity in the states. I only have a visa because hubby has one. I had to prove I am married to him again so I needed my marriage certificate.
I returned with the certificate. Bored yet? Think how tedious and boring it was to actually do all of this. You need to share my tedium and pain!!
Jamais Vu! I know I had been there before but what I got this time was something on a whole new level. The 60-something evil and bitter fat woman with a weird bob and heavy rimmed glasses that are only there so she can peer over them and glare. I explained that I had returned with the correct paperwork to replace my ss card. She looked at me like I was an alien (an illegal alien) and said ‘I can’t understand a word you are saying’. I was the only person in the building who had English as a first language.  I gave her the paperwork and the marriage certificate.
‘Computer said nooooo! You will need to change your name at immigration to your husband’s name’. I had a moment of Presque vu – when something is on the tip of your tongue but you can’t remember the word. Lucky, as I’m sure it is a federal offence to swear at a federal officer! I explained again that I needed a new SS card because I had lost it and that I wasn’t looking for a new name! Because my visa was apparently not sufficient I had brought my marriage certificate to prove a connection to the primary visa holder. She said it proved nothing as I had a different name on my passport to his. She said I might have got divorced! I asked if that would be sufficient to deport me – it was. I made a mental note of it in case of emergency homesickness! I explained the names on the marriage certificate did in fact match the names on the visa in the passport. Jamais Vu! Victory! It computed and she informed me that it would be in the post. (heard that before!) She then said she had a bad throat. Playing for sympathy now I had her beaten! Really?!! Presque Vu again. It was on the tip of my tongue to wish her a speedy end to life but I was at a loss for the words again!
I wonder if Texas was a republic – would I have had the same experience of registering to drive here as I did just changing states within the same country? Something tells me that it goes with the bureaucratic territory; that the job requires a certain sort of person! My new social Security card arrived today and I thought of a really safe place to put it. Jamais Vu! You know the punch line – there was my lost SS card safely there already! Just need to go back to get that new Texan driviers licence issued! What could possibly go wrong now?

jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer's impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before.
Presque vu (The tip of the tongue, from the French for "almost seen") phenomenon is an instance of knowing something that cannot immediately be recalled.
Déjà vu (meaning "already seen") is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain and were perhaps imagined.


  1. I told you that you find your ss card when you were not looking for it. Shame you had to go through all that before you came across it.What a palaver.Hope your patience holds up when you go back for you driving licence.I can imagine the air turning blue.

  2. Just pass that by me again :-0

  3. Went back today to get the driving licence. Got asked where I was from. I said England. She said 'Do you have a Canadian Passport?' WTF?!
    I sorted out the Texan Licence and got issued with a temporary one. It had a restriction on it. When I asked, she said it means I must wear glasses to drive at all times. I said I am having my eyes lazered on Friday and hopefully wont need glasses then. Guess what - I'll have to go back and get a new licence without the restriction on it!