Pinocchio – or becoming a real girl!


So yes, I’ve been gone a while sorry, life got hectic (house move, new job for JT, summer holidays with the kids) and I just stopped having time to write about it, but it is all calming down a little now and it feels like time to catch up on a few more of my adventures in America.

So, the biggest difference between a holiday and living somewhere has to be the paperwork involved in day to day life.

In the USA, obviously the first of these is your visa or green card, and I’ve covered in detail the process for getting one of those. Originally I arrived with a temporary, one year visa endorsed on entry (in my case at Chicago), but my actual green card arrived an impressive two months later.

However, the two forms of ID you are always asked to provide here, when you try to do anything (from getting a library card, to setting up utilities and even on job applications) are your driver’s license number and the last four digits of your social security number.

Your social security card is relatively easy, there is a box to tick on your visa application that requests the relevant government agency to automatically issue one on arrival in the USA. Tick it, why wouldn’t you? (Unless you are changing address immediately on arrival as it takes about two weeks to arrive.)  Unlike the UK where we have a separate NHS number for medical stuff and a National Insurance Number for taxes, your Social Security Number (SSN) links you to everything here.

For a while I  was getting away with a combo of SSN, passport and green card, but I decide it was time to bite the bullet and go for my driver’s permit as it is called here.

So basically I had to take a written test at the local Department of Motor Vehicles and check my eyesight.  There was a useful booklet which I combed through before taking the test of 100 multiple choice questions.

I got 99/100, which I was delighted about.  For future, reference  if the hood (bonnet) of your car flies up in America, impeding your view, do not stop ASAP (as I indicated I would,) to shut it, but instead lower your side window, lean out and steer yourself to a safe place to pull off the road, while peering round the ill behaved car part.  Call me crazy but I thought “safely” was implied in “as soon as possible” and that trying to drive at all with a solid sheet of metal impairing your view was nothing short of crazy. But I was wrong and it cost me a point.

At 99% I was still consider safe to drive and was issues a small square of white card with my details on (height, eye color, weight – which was kindly guessed by the DMV ladies and bears no resemblance to reality). JT added me to the insurance on the truck and I was ready for my first go at driving on the wrong side of the road.

The truck is huge, but automatic, so it’s not too difficult to drive, in fact I would most liken it to driving a golf cart the size of a mobile home.  Much as I am a proponent of “point and click” technology I am very much of the “point and press” school of driving.

So far I’m not too troubled by driving on the right, the one thing I struggle with is the difference between the pattern of “red, red /amber, green, amber, red” on UK traffic lights and “red, green, amber, red” which has everyone revving on the stop line like the start of the Indie 500.  I’m also slightly troubled by taking it in turns to cross at 4-way stops signs and turning right on a red light, which still seems terribly daring.

But you don’t get more real in the US than by being able to drive, so onward we go, mostly in a straight line.


Wikipedia says :Pinocchio is a 1940 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the Italian children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. It was the second animated feature film produced by Disney, made after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).


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