Sunday, April 13, 2003 12:04 PM
Another day, another surprise. On Tuesday afternoon, the paper said "you are being transferred to the USA". The letter was dated from 2001, but the plane ticket was dated for the next day, and that is how it came to be that I had only 18 hours between being notified of leaving the country... and actually leaving the country. And so began another USA adventure.
The company had imposed a ban on travel, thinking that the invasion of Iraq might result in some kind of retaliation, perhaps in the form of terrorist activity. I was allowed to travel anyway, so I did, because I think that the power of the terrorist comes from striking when it is least expected, and since such a strike was expected at that time, so such a strike would be unlikely. However, since such a strike would be considered unlikely at that time, because it was expected, it's also the best time to strike because it would be unexpected. Or not. In any case, I didn't consider it to be any more or less safe, now or later.
I thought that I had arranged to be met at the airport, but when I arrived, no-one was waiting. This was not entirely unexpected, because the same thing happened when the company moved me from Iceland to Australia. I paid some money, and caught the bus. So far, so good.
I arrived at the apartment that the company had reserved for me, but the key had not been returned yet. The receptionist told me to go to the office and get the key. I went to the office, but since it was early in the morning, the elevators were locked and my elevator card doesn't work in this country. Fortunately, someone from the office arrived and I followed him in. So far, so good.
I entered the office, but my office card didn't work either. Not good. I was told to wait until someone arrived who controls the access. I had been waiting for a long time already when a new employee arrived and was sent downstairs immediately to get his card. Meanwhile, I was still waiting. Eventually, I was sent downstairs, too, but the access control person had forgotten that my card didn't work, so I was left waiting again. Oh well.
I forgot to check the expiry date on my Australian bank card, not that it would have helped, because I couldn't have done anything about it in the time that was available. Of course the card expired, so I couldn't withdraw money from ATMs. One of my colleages said that it's not a problem, I should just open a bank account and transfer some money to it from Australia.
I went to the bank to open an account. The consultant (they don't have ordinary employees, they have "bank account consultants") asked me for my Social Security Number, but I don't have one. He grumbled but opened the account anyway. To open the account, I had to make a deposit, so I paid some more money, and opened the account. Half of my cash was gone, but everything would be fine because the company pays for relocation, so what can possibly go wrong? :-) It started with the consultant saying that the bank card would be sent to the bank... in two weeks.
An anti-submarine plane fell off an aircraft carrier. Now it's a submarine.
My accommodation was temporary, so I had to find an apartment to rent. The leasing agent asked me for my Social Security Number, but I don't have one, so I couldn't rent an apartment. Amyn came to my rescue and co-signed the lease. After we signed the lease, the agent asked for two months rent, in advance. Since I was poor at that moment, Amyn lent me the money, without hesitation, despite the rent being a four digit value per month.
The next step was to get the apartment keys, but to do that, I had to prove that the electricity was connected in my name (as opposed to the building owners'). I contacted the electricity company, and the representative (they don't have ordinary employees, either) asked me for my Social Security Number, but I don't have one, so I couldn't connect my electricity. I began to sense a pattern there. Amyn to the rescue again! The electricity is connected in his name, but I will pay the bills.
Another earthquake - now I wasn't the only one grumbling.
Some days later, the Human Resources co-ordinator (another obfuscated title) happened to ask me for my Social Security Number, but I don't have one. "Then you can't get paid", she said. It took only a week for her to tell me that. She said that it's not a problem, because when I apply for the number, I receive the number immediately and the card later. I found out later that it's not true. I asked her what I need to get the number, and, believe it or not, she didn't know. "Probably your original birth certificate". Oh really? I seem to have forgotten to bring it with me, because I don't have the habit of carrying it around. I found out later that I didn't need it anyway. I asked her where I should go to get the number. She gave me an address which is miles away. JP and Amyn drove me there, and were willing to wait, which was fortunate, because it was the wrong address. In fact, it was so far off that it was not even wrong. What good luck - the people at the building knew the exact address. What bad luck - actually they didn't, but they were close enough that we found it.
We arrived at the proper place, and I applied for the number. The officer said that the card would be sent to me... in two weeks.
The judges have submitted their scores - 0 out of 10 for this relocation.
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