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Last week, I shared my frustration with American bureaucracy’s iron policy of no compromise.

For the sake of objectivity, this week, I will share my positive experience with American bureaucracy.

For a long time, I had been postponing getting a social security card (Everyone who wants to work and get paid in the States needs to have a social security number. This number is a blessing and a curse because in theory, it’s supposed to only track people for taxation purposes, but if fact every single document in the States requires it, so it has become something like a record of every single moment of your life, forever and ever. Creepy! But that’s a different topic. )

So I had been postponing getting the social security card because I had terrible previous experience with issuing my Bulgarian ID, my passport, my visa, and my driver’s license… especially with the driver’s license (Bulgarians know what I mean!).

You have to be at the KAT Office (Control of the Automobile Transportation) really early in the morning, an hour before they open, maybe around 6 or 7, and you will still find a bunch of people already waiting in a line.  When they open, you get a number-tickets from a machine. There is always a couple of entrepreneurs (let’s just say, not from the Bulgarian ethnicity), who somehow take a lot of tickets and then try to sell them. And when there is 80 people in front of you in the line, and only 3 working windows with neurotic personnel, you forget all morals and pay 10 leva for ticket #15. When you finally reach the window, you submit 10 documents, argue with the personnel for 10 minutes, then go to the next window, argue some more, come back to the first window, pay some more money for regular of fast service, and at last, you go home completely exhausted but happy that you will hopefully never have to do this again.

By now you understand why I simply did not want to go through something like this again with the social security card. But I was surprised.

I went to the Security Service Office in Boston around 9:30, half an hour after they had opened. I had prepared all my documents and had downloaded and filled out the application form, so I just grabbed a ticket with a number and sat on a chair. There were probably 20 people in front of me and 4 working windows. They were all done in half an hour.  My application was also done in about 5 minutes. Eh, of course the lady that received my documents was as grumpy as the dwarf from Snow White, but I guess this is inherent to all bureaucracy personnel.

I have to accept, when you adhere to the rules and procedures, the American system is very convenient, fast and efficient. We Eastern Europeans could  save ourselves a lot of nerves if we learn to understand the American notion of order.

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September 2010

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