You know, one of those things people need to live and work permanently in the United States... the precious piece of paper that brought on Andie MacDowell's severe case of beer goggles when she fell in love with illegal immigrant Gerard Depardieu in the movie Green Card.
Yes, these cards really exist. They are, incidentally, not green.
And, apparently, people win them. In a lottery.
As an official green card lottery winner, I am going to sound most ungrateful when fly to Washington, climb to the top of the White House and shout at the top of my voice... WTF? You are giving green cards away via a competition? It sounds a little loco to me... I mean, I could be anyone. Do I get a set of steak knives with that? A Ped Egg?
But, the real reason the green card lottery is held every year makes perfect sense. It's to increase diversity in culturally-aware America, and winners are those from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. Like me :-).
I am, of course, grateful I won one. It really wasn't hard. I entered a few details into a website form. It didn't cost any money. I didn't need to write a 3000-word essay explaining the roots of my desire to live in the United States, nor did I have to sing the national anthem to anyone. I just had to have graduated high school. That was the condition. Oh and I had to be really lucky - apparently the chances of winning are less than 1 per cent.
So that's why I have been in the USA this week... formally immigrating to the United States. I almost feel guilty about it. I have quite a few Australian friends here who have busted a gut and several balls to get a temporary American work permit in their area of expertise. Many have slaved over expensive applications to constantly renew their visa status, wondering when the big boot may come and kick them out.
I, on the other hand, haven't worked or lived in the United States as yet. And somehow, a bunch of very nice immigration officers have shaken my hand, smiled at me and said the words, "welcome to the United States." I can get a social security number, a drivers license, an apartment and a job. It's all a little surreal. And I can't help but wondering... why didn't I buy a REAL lottery ticket???
But this really is an amazing privilege. And as long as I don't have to kiss Gerad Depardieu, I'll be fine.