Some years ago at the New York Consulate General, my office was disturbed by a small commotion caused by a frustrated Jamaican. He had called for his passport and was unable to get it from a clerk demanding that he first show an ID. The man was insisting that the officer was holding his passport in her hand and only had to look at the picture and signature to be assured that he was the true person standing before her. The matter was easily settled when a little common sense prevailed.
That incident came to mind last week when I had a similar experience at the Victoria Mutual Building Society's money transfer office on Half-Way-Tree Road. I had gone there to collect a very modest sum that someone in England had sent to help a poor child needing a pair of reading glasses. By telephone, VMBJ had told me to bring along a photo ID and my TRN card, which I did.
After waiting in line I finally got to the teller, giving him the money transfer number, my TRN card and my Justice of the Peace photo ID. He looked me in the face and must have seen that I was not an imposter. Then he told me that the money could not be paid to me because there was no expiry date on the ID. Did I have any other ID? Yes, my driver's licence. This has an expiry date, photograph and signature, but could not be accepted because it was five months out of date, as I no longer drive vehicles. Did I have a National ID? Yes, I offered it complete with photo and signature, but it was no good. New ones were being issued and mine was not up-to-date.
The sympathetic teller wanted to be helpful. He photocopied all of my IDs and wondered if I had an account with VMBS. I said I did not, so he would have to send the money back to London. He suggested that I call London and have the money sent in someone else's name. I had to advise that, considering the amount involved, this would not be feasible and might be better done by VMBS which had taken the money with a promise to deliver.
I am glad that my patience has no expiry date. Also, I suppose that rules are rules; and that in this highly criminalised society discretion is obsolete and robotics the new way of life. Still I cannot understand why an up-to-date photograph with signatures of the holder and of the Custos Rotulorum, presented by the holder himself, must have an expiry date if it is to be accepted. If this happens to a Justice of the Peace who has been verifying photographs and signatures for over 40 years, imagine the plight of the humble and inarticulate who have to deal with the money changers in this land.