School papers

I’ve blogged before about the impossibility of doing anything in this country without some form of ID, and rarely a day goes by without me thinking that I should muster the will to go get a driving license. Not so that I can drive, you understand, but just so that I can spend more than $75 on a credit card at Virgin Megastores without facing a full cavity search by over-zealous staff.

To be honest though, lack of ID can be a benefit as well as a burden on occasion. I’ve managed to use it as an excuse to get out of doing something I can’t quite summon up the energy to do. Go to the bar to get a drink, you say? Sorry, I don’t carry photo ID on me, and you know what they’re like in this place. You want me to pick up that package you ordered? Erk, no photo ID so I’ll probably just have to go home and watch Padma Lakshmi on Top Chef I’m afraid. Do the washing up, you say? I seem to need photo ID to get into the kitchen unfortunately.

In the UK, ID is something that you see as often as Heather Mills at a Justice For Fathers demo. There’s plenty of talk of introducing a national identity card, but at the moment people have to rely on their good looks and charm as their sole identifier. Is it just that the British are more trusting? Or perhaps it’s merely that we don’t insist on using a 220 year old document to justify carrying a sub-machine gun in our back pockets, so there’s less to worry about from a security perspective.

Whatever the case, it’s not just moaning newcomers who suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous admin. The Special One took The Youngest to a middle school this morning, to be interrogatedinterviewed about her ability to give a good wedgieacademic record with a view to being given a place in the school later this year. Given that the interview was at ridiculous o’clock in the morning, The Special One just grabbed her phone and some cash, and then made her way to the subway. Having returned a few moments later after forgetting The Youngest, the two of them trekked into the city.

In retrospect, the sound of an SMS arriving early in the morning was never going to be a good sign, and I could feel the seething resentment from five miles away as I picked up the phone and read ‘we don’t have photo ID, they won’t let us in’. Early morning humour isn’t a key attribute for The Special One at the best of times, and if the poor unfortunate security guard on duty isn’t this evening looking for a new job where he has to take less abuse, I’ll eat my Manchester United bobble hat.

Don’t get me wrong, I know all about Columbine, Virginia Tech and Dunblane, and how utterly terrible those events were. I understand the need for security to protect people in large establishments. But to my knowledge, Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold, Seung-Hui Cho and Thomas Hamilton didn’t turn up at school with a written appointment for an admission interview and with a ten year old child in tow. And with nothing other than a phone and a scowl in their possession.

I’m sure that the school prinicipal was delighted to be dragged down from his 5th floor ivory tower to pick up two (by now) irritable individuals. Fortunately the interview went well, but it didn’t exactly get The Youngest’s relationship with the school off to a flying start.

Come on people, just because we’ve got rules doesn’t mean that we leave good sense at home. Unlike our ID cards, that is.

8 thoughts on “School papers

  1. Brooklyn

    I’m not sure how you will take this but the NY Department of Motor Vehicles issues identity documents to persons who cannot or do not drive. They are informally called non-drivers licenses.

    The irony is delightful.

    Non-drivers licenses do serve a purpose for the reasons you outline for people who can’t or don’t want to drive but need or want official ID.

  2. Almost American

    When I first arrived in the US, I had no need of a driver’s licence, but was advised that a photo ID would be advisable. After my first experience of trying to get into a bar using my UK passport (refused entry – say what? It got me into the COUNTRY but not a bar?!!) I decided a photo ID would be a good idea! At that time Massachusetts issued ‘liquor IDs’ – good for buying alcohol, but not for driving.

    A couple of years later, I took a Russian/British friend to get a liquor ID. They wanted to see two forms of photo ID in order to issue her the liquor ID. Huh? If she had two acceptable forms of photo ID, she wouldn’t have needed the liquor ID. She got so frustrated, she ended up yelling at the Naazi behind the counter, “This is worse than f***ing Russia!” Of course that didn’t get her very far! The solution? As I by then did have a driver’s licence, I was allowed to vouch for her – say that she was who her passport said she was so she could get the liquor ID!

  3. Nat

    The relatively laissez-faire attitude towards personal identification in the UK has always slightly baffled me. It is only within the last year or so, for example, that my bank have started asking for either passport or drivers licence as proof of ID for most counter transactions. It always amused me that previously they would ask for a signature to match against the one that they kept on file, the one from when I was around 14 and opened the account!

    Any request for photo ID in this country is likely to prove extreme trauma, as whilst a good proportion of people do have a drivers licence, most of us never carry it with us… being as if requested I think you have seven days to produce it at a police station.

  4. Paul Sheffrin

    No Photo-ID is required in the UK because everyone in the UK is well known as starring in a dozen or more CCTV shots at a location near you.

    Hey, Brooklyn – I hooted at that concept of a non-drivers license. I know plenty of people who ought to have one: 008 – licensed not to drive!!

  5. Karen

    Over here in Iceland, Big Brother is well and truly alive. Although I’m not really bothered if the government knows I bought an ipod or what not I suppose some people are.
    We have a system called “kennitala” which is basically an id number. If you are born here, you get it at birth and as a foreigner, when you arrive and apply for one. It is your birth day.month and the last two digits of the year, then 4 numbers that appear random. Anywhere you go you are asked for your “kennitala” and your name, address, photo, signature will pop up, on their screen.
    I mainly use, as others do, my debit card as id. It has my picture, kennitala and signature on the back 🙂 It makes everything so much easier, especially when you are a foreigner, when making a doctors appointment is hard. You just give them your number and then it all makes sense.

  6. LolaBloom

    Wow Karen, I have never heard of that. But I fear we here in America are moving toward such a system. “They” like to keep tabs on us, implementing something along the lines of kennitala is just the next step after the no-fly list that we already have.

    Although, I hear that in this country, they have preference to implanting some form of scan-able microchip into our foreheads so that when we go to check out, they can just point it at our noggin after they’re done with the rest of the barcodes. It would subtract the fake money from our accounts and everything!!!

  7. Tom

    i would absolutely hate the idea of having to carry an id card at all times. on the flip side though i would be quite happy to carry a credit/debit card with my photo on it. somehow the idea of a bank having my info is less stressful than the british government having it….and we all know why that is, don’t we?

  8. Expatmum

    Tom – you’re not exactly carrying ID, just a driving licence/license with your photo on it. Which is ID, I know, but you know what I mean. I for one, don’t feel at all spied on or otherwise big-brothered – after all, they know everything about us anyway don’t they?

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