|Waiting in line -- a New York tradition|
She writes in an email: " I'd forgotten how bureaucratic everything is in Europe... so lots of queues and lots of appointments to get the basics sorted...it took almost an entire week (and a fair amount of sweet-talking) just to open a bank account and get a new phone number!"
I had to laugh, because this was exactly our experience in America, and we spent the whole time complaining about how bureaucratic Americans were.
It was impossible to do anything until one had a social security number -- which didn't arrive immediately, despite us registering with the social security office on our very first day in New York. So everything we needed to get set up -- renting a house, registering with utility companies, getting a bank account sorted -- was virtually impossible, despite the fact that we had visas and documentation saying that The Doctor was employed by a hospital there.
Buying a car was similarly nightmarish. We'd agreed to buy one off someone we knew who was leaving the US -- however, we weren't allowed to drive it without car insurance, and we couldn't get any car insurance until one of us had a New York driver's licence. We ended up renting the car off the friend for three months while we went through the process of registering for, and then taking, the NY driving test.
One of the most frustrating things was not being able to get an American credit card for over a year, because we had no credit history in the US. This was necessary, not because we buy things on credit, but because ordering things online in the US is virtually impossible without one. My British credit cards just didn't work, because they didn't have a zip code - and I had to get a friend to help with simple things like paying for children's swimming lessons online.
Given that credit checking companies are global, you'd think they could share some data (and it might even benefit them - after all, people with bad credit histories can start from scratch in a new country under the current system.
Coming back was similarly frustrating -- with four years away, we had lost all our car insurance history, and were forced to start again paying premiums for new drivers, despite having driven for twenty years.
As the world becomes more global, there must be a simpler way of making the transition process easier. Surely the time is ripe for someone to invent one, and tear through some of this unnecessary bureaucracy?