Ray Addison’s real life
Our columnist finds going paperless is a problem when seeking help at home
“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
“WE’RE PAPERLESS OVER HERE. TOTALLY GREEN”
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.”