Archive for June 17th, 2010

Service of Being Detail-Oriented

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

detailorientedhostasBetween poor soil and rich wildlife, we have little luck growing things in our garden with the exception of a couple of hostas in two places. Last week, my heart sank when I noticed that instead of the gargantuan, graceful green leaves that had come back this spring on one of the plants, there were uneven, ratty, six-inch stalks.

I asked my husband if he’d noticed the devastation–from deer, given the teeth etchings on the leaves–and even though he’d walked past that area, he hadn’t.

We are not detail-oriented in the same ways and don’t observe everything equally. So what? I wondered if we’d pass the tests that I read about in The New York Times article in last Sunday’s Metropolitan section, “Do You Take This Immigrant?

greencardImmigrants who are married to US citizens and want green cards must confirm that they are really married–that there’s no fraud involved. There is so much flimflamming these days in many quarters which is why couples must go through this exercise, even though the Times reporter, Nina Bernstein, notes that only 505 of over 240,000 petitions in the country last year were denied due to fraud.

Bernstein quotes the United States Citizen and Immigration Services district director, Andrea Quarantillo, about the system. “Is it perfect? No. It’s judgmental.” And the repercussions for failing can be dire: Some are deported.

weddingringBernstein notes questions ranging from “where do you keep the hamper? The shoes? What color is your wife’s toothbrush?” to “What’s your wife’s favorite piece of jewelry?” I bet we’d get that one wrong because I have a few favorites. Another test is whether you have a joint bank account or joint assets. Some people don’t believe in mingling assets.

The paper offers a marriage test  you can take to see how well you know your spouse with questions typical of those asked these couples. We would definitely fail “Where did you and your spouse first meet? When was it?” We don’t agree.

One pair argued like a married couple and even though they got some answers wrong, they passed for that reason. So maybe we’d pass.

I got the feeling that in spite of the fact that those being tested had to be detail-oriented, the system has a remarkably helter-skelter aspect to it. If you don’t pass the first time, you can bring a lawyer with you for the second interview. Did your lawyer prep you with the right questions? Was one interviewer more wily and suspicious than another or did he/she ask trickier questions?  

Although my taxes haven’t yet been audited by the IRS–and I just ran around the office to knock on three types of wood–from what I hear, the outcome, too, can vary according to the agent you speak with and how he/she interprets your answers and backup.

Is the implementation of this kind of government service more arbitrary than just; should the government system be as detail-oriented and consistent as the test-takers must be?


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