One of the first things you’ll need to obtain when you arrive is a social security number. It is the one thing you need to unlock life in America – for everything from setting up a bank account to getting an apartment. It really is that important. Luckily, if you’re smart enough to tick the appropriate box on your Green Card application form, they’ll send it out to you in a couple of weeks. If you didn’t, you’ll have to brave the social security office.
We were smart enough, but also a little paranoid that we’d missed some small detail, so it was one of the first things we did. As our first place of residence was in Fort Greene, we headed to the Brooklyn office, in Downtown Brooklyn. The area goes from high socioeconomic, gentrified brownstones to court houses, jails and jail bond pawnbrokers in a couple of streets. It’s an interesting and sober reminder that New Yorkers, no matter how glamorous or successful they think they are, never are too far from the other side – unless you talk about the bankers who live on flashy boats downtown or in upstate mansions.
The offices are up a lift and the waiting room has intense security. There are people from all walks of life, but the common emotion outwardly displayed is boredom. It’s like going to the Main Roads Department in Brisbane or some nondescript government office.
Due to the fact we have already ticked the box, the trip is rather pointless, but it’s an interesting experience anyway, albeit taking 35 minutes that we’ll never get back. Tick the YES box on the application. They will see it and you will be processed and before you know it, you’ll be another number in the system – but at least you’ll be ready for your new life.