NY is full of paradoxes, as is the whole United States. You can clearly see it just about every situation when you have to deal with something “official”. Last year, NY mayor De Blassio came up with an idea to give all New Yorkers a special NY ID Card (it’s for all New Yorkers, but the ones who benefit the most are illegal immigrants since they can’t always get their US ID here). What’s funny – you don’t even have to be legal here to get it. You can easily get it in many spots in NY now. You can get it so easily that it took me… whole 9 months to get it (but that’s a topic for a different post). 

Last month finally applied (you just fill up an application on this website http://www1.nyc.gov/site/idnyc/index.page ). All you need to qualify is to have a valid ID (passport works) and a bill or a bank statement that proves your address in NY. And that’s it! I filled up the application (it took me only a few minutes), picked a date and an hour that worked for me (you can choose a time slot between 8 am and 5:20 pm, Monday through Friday) and showed up a few days later at Mid Manhattan Library (40th Street and 5th Avenue – that place worked the best for me). When NY ID Card first appeared, you had to wait a few months to get an appointment – now it takes only a few days. My appointment was at 5:20 pm and they were late 15 minutes, so I walked in at 5:35 pm and was done probably at 5:40 pm. All you do is confirm your address, make sure once again that all the information you gave them is correct (your name, height, color of your eyes etc.), flash a smile into a small, invisible camera that takes your headshot – and get the information that the card will come to you within 14 days. 

Why did I mention the US paradoxes? I got to the place at 5 pm, so I had some time to watch people and listen to some conversations. There were 15 of us who applied. One lady was Japanese and barely spoke English, so they called for an interpreter. This poor lady was going back and forth, was standing and then sitting again, not sure what she was supposed to do; she thought she had to leave, so they had to scream to call her back again. I wondered – how are able to survive here, woman? Another couple came in with their own interpreter who filled an application for them. I don’t think they spoke English at all. Another woman spoke English, but brought a friend who spoke better English, just in case, they weren’t sure if her documents worked, after going back and forth they finally came to the conclusion that they worked. One guy, an American, came in to “pick up” his card, but what he really meant was to apply for a card with an already filled up application. One woman, also an American, was arguing that she had an appointment – yes, she did, but she still had to wait. All I was thinking this whole time was – I admire the people who work there. You have to possess not only huge people skills and empathy – but also enormous patience. How is it possible that you can get an ID Card even though you’re illegal and don’t speak English…? I call it the American Dream. And also a paradox.