Wednesday, April 29

So that's that

Did the whole "Becoming an American" thing today.

I'll start with the good stuff. It was great to see people being sworn in who had obviously escaped shitty regimes and third-world struggles. But enough of the Belgians, let's cut to the chase.

Despite being processed in Boston, I had to go to Worcester for the swearing in ceremony. My take? Distribution of wealth. I figure Worcester made $5k on parking alone.

If you want to kill a bunch of dirty foreign immigrants (as I was before the ceremony) then just show up at the swearing in ceremony. It's clearly posted on the notice board of the Mechanics Hall, and there is no security.

So 536 applicants and their guests formed a long wavy line down Main Street, and slowly (one hour) filed in. Apparently, EVERYONE completed their forms incorrectly. Hmpf? We all filled it in incorrectly? Maybe it's poorly written?

A flash of my Alien Registration Card later (I'll miss being an alien), I was handed a tiny US flag and an envelope by a school-child, and congratulated. Thanks school-child.

Next we were led into a big concert hall with crazily uncomfortable seats. I was sat next a demure woman from the Dominican Republic and a chatty old lady from Indonesia.

And that was it for an hour or so. Intermittently, staff from Homeland Security, would walk to the microphone and butcher the names of foreigners who had not registered correctly. We were also told that the judge would be here, "shortly".

Said judge showed up 1.5 hours late. And after a quick chat he listed the 97 countries from which the new Americans were culled. I found it funny that some people cheered when their country of birth was named. Guys you just gave up the right to be Albanian, Kazakh or a Sierra Leone-ian (sic).

So we were all sworn in collectively. I think we just guessed that we were supposed to raise our right hand.

Next up, a guy who did not know the Pledge of Allegiance, led 536 other people, who also did not know it, in a mumbled rendition.

Guests were then asked to leave so that the new Americans could get their Certificates. My glee at receiving a Certificate (I think the last one I got was for swimming 25 meters as a 9 year old) was short-lived. The guests all wanted to take photos, so we waited 20 minutes for them to leave ... before we were led out one row at a time. This took another hour. During the WHOLE event they played rousing Sousa marches. After 3 hours ... you've had an assful.

Certificate in hand, Anne and I did a very American thing. Ate lunch in a chain restaurant.

So the day was a combination of different feelings. People are congratulating me which is only natural, but I did this purely for legal reasons. No, the US does not allow Dual Citizenship, but the UK does, so at least over there I'm still British. I'll have 2 passports like a spy! But I was happy for the people who did this for a better way of life. Of those 97 countries I think I would only want to live in about 5 of them (6 if you include Belgium .. but only the Flemish part).

The event was terribly organized and made the "How wonderful America is" platitudes appear quite empty, but like I said, if you're living here instead of Chechnya, then you can probably put up with 5 hours of Sousa and administrative incompetence in Worcester.

Here's a picture of the lovely Mechanics Hall where it all went down.

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