We hear on the news what has become of the world – our national security, our cyber security, even our privacy. It’s disconcerting to know that we are not particularly safe on any level. Ironically, technology is supposed to help us be more safe, more protected, from secret intelligence to microchip credit cards, but nothing would have prepared me for what I went through to simply register my kid for high school.
Sixteen years ago I moved away from my quiet little town, just 10 miles outside of the big city I now call home again. A lot can happen in 16 years, and a lot did. I just didn’t know that as much as it has not changed, it’s really a whole new world.
First I noticed increased traffic. This state is known for its traffic, but I thought we would relish in our quiet side streets like we used to. Nope. Then I noticed the small local businesses that I used to call for my home needs are now big businesses that don’t return my calls. Some family businesses survived through the years, but even they are different – nearly a generation gone by – grown children running the business their way.
The town has not changed in beauty, but has changed in numbers. That became clear when I saw that the high school that used to abut my neighborhood is now the middle school, and a big, shiny new high school stands where a plot of trees used to be. I was in awe of the new structure. But it was the inside that surprised me.
We had a registration appointment for my now-junior son. First we had to be buzzed through two sets of doors. Then they took my driver’s license and scanned it into a device that not only made an electronic copy, but printed out a special badge with my picture on it. At the same time that machine also let the administration know if I was a criminal.
We had to provide more than 50 pages of signed documentation as proof of everything – residence, citizenship, marriage, language, driver’s licenses, notarized affidavits, utility bills, pay stubs, W-2s, home insurance, bank statement, house payment, and that was just for the parents. The registrar said that if they have any questions, they actually send the police to your house to be sure that you truly live there and with the people you say you do. I have never gone through anything like this to enroll my boys in school. It blew my mind.
My son did better with it than I did, I felt fairly invaded. Why would I lie about who I am, where I live, or anything relating to our identities? Apparently people do. It was like a government agency background check. Then I learned the school re-checks periodically to be sure we’re still good.
That was just for high school. When I learned what we have to do to get our driver’s licenses and car registrations I was shocked again. We don’t live in a police state…or maybe we kind of do. I’ll be so glad when the administration of moving is done and we’re finally real residents here. I must have been living under a rock before, but I bet now even that’s not too safe.