Residential address. Mailing address. Why?
I don’t have any. Rather, I have had too many and none for too long. I have lived a peripatetic life for the past 6 years. I have worked for 1 company for nearly 11 years now but have travelled several places doing work for this company, and I have stayed for anywhere between one year and three years in every new town, city, country I have been to. While this lifestyle comes to envy of many and sometimes surprisingly to my own delight, not all is so upbeat about it. I face several challenges that a settled bloke will have slightest inkling of. And I would envy him for this.
The most challenging aspect of my life has been seeking renewal of bank cards from a new address and answering the security question “What’s your mailing address?” It could be any of the addresses I had had in that city where I first applied for the card or where I got it renewed first.
For example, when living in Brisbane, I moved homes a couple of times in a span of 3 years. That is not much, is that? Well, consider that I bank with a financial institution there, and after leaving the city for good, I had given a mate’s address as a “C/o” so that he could receive my first renewal card and so that I could take it from him when I met him next. I managed to get my first renewal.
Three years later, when it was time for a second renewal card, I called up the bank to mail it to my new address; I couldn’t remember what address they had in their system. It wasn’t the “C/o” address apparently but rather one of my earlier two addresses I had stayed in. So, I had to have a go at each one and implore the officer on phone to accept that if one of addresses I utter match their records then he must authenticate me successfully and process my request. Of course, they have been kind enough to accept my case as a special case, which is why I still bank with them.
A few days ago, I returned to Tasmania for some time off from work. I chose to live with a friend rather than rent at a YHA or a B&B. I thought of applying for a conversion of my International driving license. I hold two international driving licenses and neither of them are Australian, unfortunately.
At the office of motor vehicle licenses, I was asked to produce a current address proof that was resident in Tasmania. I said I was moving homes, and that I was staying with a friend in the meanwhile. I was sent back to get a letter from my friend stating that he is the owner of the address where I was staying and that he had permitted my staying with him for a short period until I found a place of my own.
The office allowed me to take the driver’s knowledge test only after I produced this letter, signed by this benevolent friend of mine. I got that letter the same day after making my friend pull up under a No Parking sign on a busy street in Hobart and sign on a handwritten note addressed to the office of motor vehicle licensing.
The other problem I often face as a consequence of my work-style is servicing my ties with my home country. I have investments there –a time deposit account, a recurring deposit account, a government provident fund. Nothing big. Some pittance here and some pittance there which I had started before I begun travelling for work. If I must call up any of the institutions to either renew, redeem or change any instruction, then I am always directed to a method that requires a two-factor authentication over my mobile phone. And of course, mobile phone! The number I had provided several years ago was a number resident in my home country. First, I don’t remember it. Second, I don’t use it anymore. Third, it may be out of service or recycled for another user. If I do initiate any service on my investments, then a one-time password will be sent to that number, and I would simply state at my computer screen helpless.
Every visit home – which happens once an year, fortunately, – is always booked with hurried and repeated visits to the banks and agencies to show to them that I am alive, still.
I crave for means by which I can authenticate myself by “who I am”, rather than “what I know” or “what I have”. Isn’t that the most secured means anyway? But to consolidate all my official records across countries I have worked in with a one-touch sign on – it can only be dreamt of.
A fourth worry – and of course not the last of my helplessness against global officialdom but definitely the last one in this whinge essay – is that of filing tax returns in my home country and the adopted country. Due to the complex nature of a complex split pay arrangement with my employer, I must continue to file tax returns in the two countries, both of which follow different tax years. But I wonder why complain about this because it was a lot worse a couple of years ago for three straight years, when I was posted in Fiji. During those years, I had to file tax returns in three different countries, and to make matters worse, Fiji followed a different tax year compared to the other two.