Dominoes

It's said that you should always present a infallible public image - that in your writings in blogs and social media you should present a spotless veneer. After all, as recent grads, why would we give anyone reason not to hire us? We're terrified of this shit. It feels dishonest to me, even though I did it for a while. The standard wisdom on Impostor Syndrome is that it's a condition where you're unable to internalize your accomplishments. I think there's an equal and opposite condition when you pathologically avoid externalizing your failures. Let's call it Social Media Douchebag-itis… Syndrome, acknowledge that I had it in the past, and that I'm trying to do better at looking at my mistakes objectively and with an eye towards improvement.

There's certain things people always tell you that you really shouldn't lose: Your birth certificate, your SIN card, your drivers license, your passport… but losing them doesn't really carry consequences until it does. The relevant info on my SIN card is committed to memory, so when I file my taxes I don't have to search for it, I just recall the number and off I go. When did I lose it? I truly don't know. In the 24 months between August 2009 and 2011, I moved 6 times. Things get lost in the shuffle.

I would know within 24 hours if I lost my credit card… or (so I thought) my passport, which has been my primary piece of identification since my driver's license expired 5 1/2 years ago.. In reality, the loss of my passport had a longer timeframe than I would've expected before I realized it was gone, because of how rarely I get asked for ID at this point in my life: whenever I go to Babylon for Mod night (a couple times a month) and whenever I go to a bar in the market at night (a couple times a quarter). I've torn my apartment asunder, followed up with every bar I've visited since the last time I went to Mod and no dice - it's gone. It was an invite to a bar in the market that triggered the realization, panic, terror regarding my upcoming trip to NYC, and eventually resolve to get this straightened away.

Which triggers the "Where's my Birth Certificate?" domino. Which triggers the "Where's my SIN Card?" domino. I've got my health card, of course. I have to physically give someone my health card in order to benefit from its effects. But if I haven't used it, I've lost it, and now, on a quite short timeline, I've got to replace it all. The entire house of cards was balanced on me not losing one document that I've had an impeccable record keeping track of for a decade, but sometimes bad luck strikes when you don't expect it.

I'm really good at my job and one of the reasons for that is I'm really good at focusing my energy on a task, cutting out the superfluous crap, identifying and then resolving the core of the issue. It's why I gently interrupt a customer when they feel compelled to tell me their entire business plan in order to point out something that can be fixed with a couple keystrokes. It's not that I don't care, it's that no one calls tech support to have a pleasant chat, they call because they have a problem that needs fixing, which I do as efficiently as possible. I focus, always, on this efficiency, and that's why I make a point of committing as much of my personal info as possible to memory. It's quicker for me to tell you my credit card number, expiry date, and CVV than it is to dig it out from my pocket (or worse, walk all the way to my bedroom if I'm not wearing pants). But the danger of relying so much on nothing but memory, and getting used to needing nothing more than your memory to get things done…  I lost sight of the importance of keeping track of those few physical objects that verify that we are who we know we are. Even that level of precaution assumes infallibility of memory, which of course could never go wrong. After all, I remember where I left my SIN card and birth certificate…

So I'm on a train to Toronto to get documents expedited. I suspect I'll also be investing in a safety deposit box when I get back to Ottawa.


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2 comments

  • I’d recommend getting an Ontario photo ID to use in place of your passport for everyday use. You can apply at city Hall and it’s $35. Then you can just leave your passport at home and not worry about losing it again.

    • David
  • That’s the eventual plan. It’s one of those things you leave until it’s too late, because as long as everything continues perfectly, there’s no need, and, well, I have a habit of overestimating my infallibility.

    • Brian Alkerton