Monday, October 31, 2011

Department of Homeland Whatnow?

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. 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.


Linda G. said...

Ugh. Just went through something similar when my son was filling out (endless) forms for his security clearance for a new job. He wanted to know my middle name. Or rather, if he should use the middle name from before I was married, or my last name from then, which I use now as my middle name with my married name. Heck if I knew. I told him just to go with my what was on my driver's license.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, can you imagine what will happen when we start listing all our names from previous marriages,even if it's just one?
I never changed my name, not even when I got married to my first husband in the 70's, somehow I think I always knew it might be temporary.
But by giving them all these names, it' information that might suddenly make us a "person of interest" and it rots my socks that, not only can some broad or guy who works in security go through my purse checking my lipstick, snooping around under the guise of "security" but now they can also know all about our family names, history etc, and how is that anybodys business but our own?
It is an invation of privacy that has gradually been eroded, we are used to giving out our phone numbers, our Postal Codes, our mother's maiden names, and who knows what else, we don't even remember that it is really nobodys Damned Business!
When I'm in a store and am asked for my phone number I say that it's unlisted, and that is usually the end of it. As for my postal code, I say politely, that they don't need it. Period. Well, I don't actually say "period" but I say it like I'm not going to stand there and debate it.
I have nothing to hide, I just don't want to share it. How about if I ask the sales clerk for her phone number or Postal Code? I mean, wouldn't that be fair? I know they are just doing their job but really, why must the higher-ups insist they ask us for this info in the first place?
I know it's a little thing but most of us are old enough to remember when, not that long ago we didn't even need a passport to cross the border. After 911 there was so much suspicion and fear, but it's been 10 years.
When I'm at the little Vermont border crossing near our cottage I make a point of telling them minute details of where I'm going, for instance, Guard: "Where are you going?"
Me: "I'm going to the Pick and Shovel for some tulip bulbs then over to Big Joe's for a burger or maybe a Pizza, want to come with me?"
Usually they smile or say they wish but they just started their shifts, but I just want to return to the days when we were neighbours, not strangers.
I get away with this because I'm a WASP in my 50's with blue eyes and an Irish surname (paternal last name, byw)but doubt I'd get away with it if my name was Mohammed. Well, especially being a woman, that would just be weird.


Deborah Small said...

LOL! I feel your pain. I've used four different surnames over the years - I get writer's cramp filling out govt. forms that require I list all of them _and_ my mother's maiden name.

Glad you found the help button. Would have been better if the people you contacted actually knew the answer. :)

Good luck, you daring line-buster you.

Yutha said...

Should have phoned me you big silly! I have one and I've filled out that form. I have yet to actually USE the card, but I have one.

A Novel Woman said...

Have I told you lately that I loooooove you.

Man, my readers rock.

KDTR, we need to do lunch. A liquid one, I'm thinking.

Colleen said...

Now I know why there are so few people scooting around the line!