I'm attempting to get one of those speedy border passes through the Department of Homeland Security.
If I succeed, I will be that woman, you know, the one who scoots around the regular line, feeling the hot glares on the back of her neck from all those sweaty onlookers as they drag their bags slowly forward and she waltzes right into the security pat-down line.
You can't make a mistake, or worse, lie about anything when you fill out these forms. Because if you do, you're banned from using or getting another card for life. But the first question on the online form is so confusing I reckon I'm snookered before I even start.
It says: list your paternal name, then your maternal name, then your first name.
So...do they mean my married name i.e. last name, maiden name and first name? My married name IS my maiden name.
Or do they mean my father's last name, my mother's maiden name and my first name? What about my husband's last name, which I sometimes use socially?
Turns out they don't really know either. I called the Montreal office and Big Shocker, no one was there to pick up the phone. Quebec's motto should be "It's not my job" followed by a Gallic Shrug.So I phoned the Toronto office, finally got a human and she said "the paternal name is the last name you go by, and the maternal name is your maiden name." My maiden name IS my paternal name. I live in Quebec, so we are required by law to keep our maiden names. So do I write it down twice?
The she gave me another number in Ottawa.
This time, the woman said "the paternal name is your last name, the one you use now." (So, my maiden name.) "And the maternal name is any other name you've used."
Huh? So I told her I use my husband's last name sometimes, plus I'd been married before, like 30 years ago, and I used his last name at that time so is that what they want under "maternal name"? Yup. Are you sure? "Oh yes," she laughed. "This happens all the time. Put down any or all other names you've used."
So I go back online and it seems like I'm filling in more names than Elizabeth Taylor and then I see a teensy, tiny, 'help' button in the upper corner. Clearly they don't want you to use it, or they'd make it easier to see.
It says paternal name is your current last name and maternal name is your mother's last name.
If I can't get past the first page on the form, the likelihood is I'm going to be standing in the back of the line with the rest of the sweaty plebs, practicing my glare.