from the check-his-locker dept
Let me let you into the helmet for a moment. Given all the nonsense surrounding the various United States alphabet agencies and their various watchlists, I've grown thankful that I have a fairly uncommon name. Between the potential for antagonistic abuse by scorned lovers, the opportunity for clerical errors to result in life-changing refusals of admittance to the United States, and the general crap-show that is the no fly list, it's somewhat nice to have a rather unique identifier. It almost cancels out the mispronunciations, lacking nicknames like "Geigner-counter", and seriously non-stop questions about what life is like running the Treasury Department. Almost.
But stories like this one offered by reader Richard really cement my gratitude for my evil-sounding German surname. I could, as this story goes, have an incredibly generic name and live in a foreign country and find myself having to wade through all kinds of red tape just to get a few electronics parts. This is the story of David Jones and his quest to get a couple of parts from a local distributor in Australia.
Through the website I ordered some local in-stock parts from the Element 14 warehouse in Sydney, for pickup at the trade counter. Usually they are very efficient and have the parts ready for collection before I have time to drive there. But this day I gave them a few hours extra. When I got there my parts weren't ready and it took them a bit of time to figure out that my order had been placed “on hold”.Flagging David Jones? What could go wrong? I hear he has a really terrifying locker and was part of a terrible Beatles knock-off band a couple of decades ago. On the other hand, harassing foreign citizens with common names out of an over-abundance of name-recognizing caution is probably going to make everyone look foolish, on top of all the work it certainly must create. On top of that, the helpful employees of Element 14 were confident they could just work around the flag to begin with. So the efforts aren't just silly, they're futile on top of it. Oh, US government, don't ever change.
But they enquired further with someone else and the word came back that it wasn't the parts that had been flagged, it was my NAME that was flagged. And they said it was a US government watch list of some description. I was stunned, and it seemed like they didn't quite understand why I was so shocked at this. Because, you know, the whole world has to just sit by and let the US government dictate everything at will.
Not that Mr. Jones was as amused as I, of course.
So let's see if I have this straight – An Australian subsidiary, owned by a UK parent company, listed on the UK stock exchange, has an ordering system that automatically matches generic names against some US Government watch list, and flags those orders and puts them on hold, for parts that are already stocked in Australia, are likely not made in the US, and likely have come from the main UK warehouse. Call me stupid, but something doesn’t seem right with that…No, Mr. Jones, we don't think you're stupid. We think you're cunning, an evil mastermind terrorist from Australia, because we've seen so many of those. Or maybe it's one of the other bazillion David Jones' plotting around the world. You can't expect us to know. It's not like we're reading everyone's emails or something...