Ray Ad­di­son’s real life

Our colum­nist finds go­ing pa­per­less is a prob­lem when seek­ing help at home

Good (UAE) - - CONTENTS -

“The prob­lem,” April sighed, “is that you can’t prove that you are who you say you are. Mr… er, Ad­di­son.”

As far as prob­lems go, this was a new one on me. I’d had to ver­ify a few things when I moved to the UAE. My qual­i­fi­ca­tions, my mar­i­tal sta­tus, even my gen­eral med­i­cal fit­ness, but I’d never been asked to prove my very ex­is­tence.

And this wasn’t some hu­man re­sources bu­reau­crat de­mand­ing proof of life. It was a Bri­tish so­lic­i­tor. Some­one that I was pay­ing to ask ques­tions ex­actly like this. So if I wanted to com­plain to her su­pe­rior I’d have to have a very firm word with my­self later on in the bath­room mir­ror.

The young lady at the end of the phone listed all of the ac­cept­able forms of ID. A let­ter from my bank, credit card state­ments and util­ity bills. Things the UAE has phased out to make life eas­ier for ev­ery­one.

“We’re pa­per­less over here. To­tally green. It’s part of the smart ini­tia­tive to make ev­ery­one hap­pier by 2021,” I ex­plained, won­der­ing when my share of the eu­pho­ria would fi­nally kick in.

“That’s great,” she said, clearly not lis­ten­ing. “But you’re go­ing to have to find some­thing that we can ac­cept.”

I was struck mo­men­tar­ily by the irony of some­one half my age ask­ing me to prove that I had ac­tu­ally been born.

I thought back to the his­tor­i­cal mo­ments that I had lived through. Mar­garet Thatcher’s resignation – 12 years old. The millennium bug – 22 years old. Pay­ing off the last of my credit cards – last week.

I’d touched a few peo­ple’s lives along the way and brought tiny hu­man be­ings into ex­is­tence. But still it wasn’t enough for April, be­cause none of my kids had my cur­rent home ad­dress tat­tooed on their heads and both were def­i­nitely miss­ing an of­fi­cial com­pany stamp.

Still, she was only be­ing thor­ough. No dif­fer­ent from the UAE Gov­ern­ment when I’d ap­plied for res­i­dency. They’d wanted my palm prints, fin­ger­prints, a blood


sam­ple and even an iris scan. In fact, a bizarre thought struck me – enough bi­o­log­i­cal data to make an ex­act replica of me.

From that raw ma­te­rial they could grow a clone who could be put to work. To­tally non­de­script and ca­pa­ble of go­ing un­de­tected around the world, he would be a su­per-spy. Some­one who, if he were ever cap­tured, would be com­pletely de­ni­able, be­cause no-one could ever prove that he ex­isted.

“Mr Ad­di­son, are you there?” April asked from thou­sands of miles away.

“Yes April, I’m still here,” I sighed, “I’m just not sure how I can prove it.”

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