Nov 212011

Today, I finally got my iPhone. I ordered it online a week ago, and it showed up a couple of hours ago, which is nice, seeing as Apple said it would be coming on the 25th. Now, I just need to go down to AT&T and buy into a plan of some sort, and I can finally give back the crappy temporary phone I’ve been using.

This got me thinking about all these little things that we have to do. All these small steps we need to go through when moving to a new place, before we can reach a sense of normalcy. Opening a bank account, getting a phone set up, renting an apartment, etc.

Comparing between the US and the UAE, it’s interesting to see how the two places have their own ways of causing these little things to drag out as long as possible. In the UAE, we have to deal with the always-required residence visa before we can do anything. As this visa can take weeks to process (something which is supposed to be taken care of before you arrive in the UAE, mind you), that can mean weeks without the ability to rent a place, get a phone line, open a bank account, buy a car (and woe be to the man living in Dubai without a car!), etc. Once that’s done, you could still have trouble renting an apartment, say, as the landlords generally want as few checks as possible (sometimes even one check.. to cover the whole year), something which might be difficult for a young professional in their first job!

In the US, a lot of these little steps are tied to your social security number, as I’ve mentioned, at length. You can open a bank account before getting that number, but everything else has to sit on hold. No credit card, no apartment (this can be worked around), no phone line.

Same same, only different.

Nov 072011

My Social Security Number showed up today!

I shouldn’t be this excited over a piece of paper (yes, it’s not a plastic or laminated card, it’s just a piece of cardboard), but I am. I feel legal now!

Next stop, getting myself a real damned phone!

Note: My weekend was eventful. I’m writing up the posts as we speak. Will probably post them tonight.


Up at 6:30 (hurray for jetlag!), I made myself an omelette (the guys who own the apartment left me a dozen eggs) and realized there was no coffee in the apartment. After getting the panic attack under control, I got myself ready for work.

The office is about 20 minutes away from here on the T (that’s what they call their public transportation system in Boston). I have to walk exactly 5 minutes to the station, then a 10-15 minute ride, then another 5 minute walk to the office. The walk itself is really pleasant from my apartment, as there’s a small park I have to walk through.

I spent the day pretty much getting to know everyone at the office. On Fridays, we apparently try to do an office lunch in the conference room, so I went out with a guy I work with and grabbed a sandwich for that.

Ok, so that sandwich. We went to a place that is only open for lunch (it’s a very ‘business’ district, so there are a few places like that) and does sandwiches, pizza, pasta, etc. Trying to avoid getting super fat here, I was looking for the healthiest looking option on the menu. I found a Greek Wrap.. basically a greek salad sandwich. Perfect. So you know how wraps are usually done with a small tortilla bread? Yeah, no. The bread they used was pretty damned big. The sandwich was the size of an American football. It was pretty tasty, but it did nothing to help my inflation phobia.

After lunch, I went on the 15 minute walk to the Social Security office to try and apply for my SSN. Without that number, I can’t do anything here. Including get paid! After entering the federal building (everything out of pockets. Jacket off. Belt off. Wow. The airport had far less security), I took a number and sat and waited. And waited. And waited.

After about an hour, my number was called, and I went up to the lady at the counter. She took my application and passport, and spent some time tapping away at her keyboard. Then she handed me a piece of paper that said that it would take up to 4 weeks to get my SSN and wished me a nice day.


To put this in perspective.. here’s what I can do without a social security number:

  • - open a bank account
  • - get a driver’s license
  • - rent an apartment – this one is a maybe, as some landlords will insist on a credit check.

Here’s what I can’t do:

  • - anything requiring a contract. This includes:
  • - getting a phone
  • - getting internet
  • - getting a credit card
  • - GETTING PAID (you can’t get paid without an SSN, as they need that for tax reasons)
  • - health insurance (!!!)
  • - apply for any sort of credit. As an example, I want to get a computer. I would like to buy this computer on financing, because that will help boost my credit history. Can’t do that till I have an SSN.
  • - The list goes on! I’m still finding things that I can’t do because of this stupid number.

So yeah. Until I have that number, I’m pretty well shackled.

At the end of the work day, a delivery guy showed up at the office with my missing suitcase! Thank you Delta! I made plans to meet a friend for dinner/drinks in Cambridge, and then took the T home with suitcase in tow.

After settling it in, I pretty much turned around and went back to the station again to get to Cambridge.. home of Harvard and MIT. After a long walk from the T station, I met up with my friend and his wife and we tried to go to a place that they liked. Of course, it was super full, so we ended up walking down to Harvard Square until we found a place that looked ok. The place was Uno.. same as the one in Dubai I guess, but the food was a lot better. I had a portobello and shiitake mushroom pizza with cheddar cheese. It was nice and small, and very tasty. Had some local beer as well (Harpoon) but I didn’t like that too much.

And then, to home and collapse.

Note that the first week  all end the same way. Jetlag is fun.