Living, Dying, Surviving II



Manuel Bravo committed suicide yesterday. I learned about it just after I left the Job Centre Plus in Rusholme, where I had attended a compulsory interview for a National Insurance Number—the last step in a stunningly facile work permit process that whisked me from Canada to the United Kingdom in exactly 12 weeks. It was a daunting process, to be sure, and fraught with an insomniac’s anxiety. I had to pack up my apartment, say goodbye to friends and family, and worry about which of my new colleagues at the University of Manchester might collect me from the airport with my 140 pounds of overweight baggage. The National Insurance Number interview was one of the strangest experiences I have ever had—I was asked to bring essentially all of the documentation I have ever been issued. I arrived there with my two blue passports (one Canada, one U.S.), my U.K. visa, my work permit, my birth certificate, the lease agreement for my flat in Manchester, a connection agreement with British Telecom and another with UK Online to prove my address (the signed lease agreement was apparently not sufficient), my employment contract with the university along with a letter from Human Resources that essentially recapped the important details of the contract, namely, that I would be paid and would, in turn, pay taxes. They copied my U.S. social security number and my Canadian social insurance number; they copied every page in both of my passports and asked me to sign each of these pages in order to confirm that I had traveled to the countries corresponding to the entry and exit stamps.


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© Elizabeth Dauphinee and Cristina Masters 2007

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