Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who am I?

How do you prove your identity?

At airports and borders and the like it's with photo id, normally a passport although in Germany sometimes just an Ausweis (personal photo id) will do rather than the passport. They always ask for this when I try to collect parcels from the post office and reluctantly make do with my driving licence (like I'm going to go everywhere with my passport in my bag, I don't think so) to add insult to injury (to them, not me) the driving licence is a UK issued one (complete with my old UK address on it) there's no pressure to change it (the speeding tickets go to the registered owner of the car and not to the home of the driving licence) so until that fateful day when I'm actually stopped by the cops for something (it wasn't me guv) and told off for not having a German driving licence, I'll continue to use my British driving licence.

Back to proving you are who you say you are...
To extract hard earned cash from a bank you need a PIN - personal identity number, the idea being that you, and only you know this secret number and therefore you, and only you can legally get money from your account.
The whole 'chip and pin' concept really took off a few years ago in the UK, I remember all the advertising from it still, suddenly cheques were no longer in vogue and signing for stuff was old hat and we all had to remember our PINs in order to pay for anything as a signature wouldn't do.

I got well confused when we were in New York last week (have I mentioned that already?) I got my little used UK credit card out to pay with for the first time and had my list of possible PINs ready (my UK cards get a battering in the UK once a year if they're lucky (although they do get used online, but that's a different story) and so the PINs get forgotten...) but I didn't need them (the PINs that, is not the cards) oh no, they have these fancy electronic signing gadgets for you to scrawl your moniker on - fine no?
Now I'm not a stranger to these electronic signature thingummies, we have them here for DHL, UPS, Hermes etc. deliveries (and trust me, with my ability to eshop, we get a lot of deliveries) I've been signing my name as 'Verena R Evans' for 20+ years and have perfected the quick scrawl - the first V and the R and partly the E are relatively clear (although it does depend on the machine) the legibility of the rest is variable, but still, it's quite definitely my signature, me, signing to say 'thanks, goods received'.

Today I was shocked.

The UPS man handed me a parcel (and this guy is a regular at my house) and I signed for it, an actually passable Verena R Evans signature today. Herr UPS looked at it, said 'Efans?' (they can't sound their V's here) I confirmed that yes it was EVans and smiled sweetly at him. At which point he took the plastic pencil thingy and wrote over my signature, making the curly E that I write 4 straight lines, he probably put an F in the middle of Evans too.
As he disappeared down the steps I shouted after him that it was no longer my signature...maybe I should call up the people the parcel came from and claim never to have received it, afterall they no longer have my confirmation of receipt!!

As I've said before and will say again and again and again, Germans are BONKERS!

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