Neil's News

Social Security

3 February 2007

I spent a delightful Friday morning in the Social Security Office in San Francisco. Obtaining a social security number should have been a quick and easy process. Unfortunately the name on my birth certificate doesn't quite match the name on the rest of my ID. So the agent asked for more ID. I showed her my British passport. Then things became ugly. In her eyes I was no longer Canadian. I was British. Only Canadians are allowed to work under the visa I have. The concept that I could be both Canadian and British -- at the same time -- was (excuse the pun) foreign to her.

This led to an interesting but surprisingly polite conversation about my parentage, my nationality and my intentions. My favourite exchange was:

"The problem is you are from overseas."
"No I'm not, I'm from Canada."
[Silence as each person hoped the other person would realise the truth of their statement].

After two hours of arguing from opposite sides of bullet-proof glass, no conclusion had been reached. The matter has been referred to a higher authority.

To top it all off, security confiscated my Swiss army knife on the way it, and it had been stolen by the time I left. My boss graciously offered to cover the cost of replacing it since getting a social security number is a requirement of employment.

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