Thursday, April 01, 2010
A Person Of Suspicion.....
This picture has nothing to do with this post. But the azaleas are beautiful right now!
Hidden in among the bank statements and umpteenth notices for magazine subscription renewals we're no longer interested in, [have you noticed how, even after your "last chance" notice, they just keep on coming?] was something official-looking.....for me.
At long last! My shiny new Alien Registration Card, along with a leaflet welcoming me to the United States.
"Well," I said to the world at large, "Isn't that special."
I've only lived here since 1970 and now they want to welcome me? These would be the fine folks at Homeland Security, beloved of airline travelers throughout the land, and an even more recent addition to the US than myself.
Alien resident cards are issued for ten years at a time. Mine expired last summer and I applied for a renewal, the first time I've had to renew since Homeland Security took over the job of keeping us safe.
And, in case you had any doubts, they are working very conscientiously towards that end. They left no stone unturned to make sure I was not a menace to society, so that the good citizens of this country would not be at risk of their lives by having the likes of me living and breathing among them. After all, just because a person marries an American citizen and spends the best years of her life raising other American citizens, is no reason to assume she will not get a wild hair, one of these days, and embark on a life of crime. And the fact that one's husband was a career military man and served his country with distinction should in no way raise one above suspicion.
A terrorist until proven otherwise.
No exceptions. In the interests of national security, you understand.
I sent in the [considerable] fee, along with my renewal application. In due time I was told to report to an office in a distant city, so that immigration experts [the implication being that such specialized work was beyond the capabilities of the local sheriff's office] could take my fingerprints and my picture.
And when the powers that be deemed my fingerprints "unreadable," I was required to motor once again to the same distant city, so that the same [not so expert] people and their fancy-ass fingerprinting machines could do it all again.
And when they were once again deemed "unreadable," I was told to contact the law enforcement offices of each place I had lived in the past ten years, and obtain from them a copy of my criminal history record, which I should then mail to them within 87 days.....#$%@! What's with that magic number? And exactly what criminal history were they talking about, I wondered? A case, once again, of being a criminal 'til proven otherwise. Oh, and don't forget to include a check for the fee to each law enforcement office involved.
Insinuations to the contrary aside, I am a law abiding person, though it tries my patience when the law is implemented idiotically, so I sent off requests to the law enforcement offices of two states in which I have lived in the past ten years, complete with requisite fees.
Now, I understand red tape. I understand bureaucracy. But I was beginning to feel insulted. Beginning to feel I might be better off packing my bags and relieving the U S of A of the apparent hazard of having me at large. I could go home to Ireland. I'm sure the Little Blister would not leave me out in the cold and the rain...I would survive just fine there, as long as I was armed [or maybe that should be footed?] with a good supply of thick, woollie socks. At least there I wouldn't be viewed with such suspicion!
In the fullness of time I received reports in the mail from the investigative agencies of the States of Florida and Minnesota. They had snooped and pried and uncovered my dastardly secret...........
I had never been in trouble with the law!
Didn't I assure you that these folks are toiling, day and night, sparing no expense [on my part!] to keep you safe from the dodgy ones among us?
I now have in my possession, a shiny, new Alien Registration card, complete with its very own protective sleeve.
Which means they won't be looking to deport me for at least the next ten years....
And what else does it mean? The rest of the country can sleep easy tonight, in the knowledge that the chances of being knifed in their beds by Molly Bawn, are slim to none.