It’s a phone message you don’t want.
Someone from the registry office calling. “This is Mr. ……, call me back, ASAP”.
Your mind goes into overdrive. What did I do? Did I go someplace I wasn’t supposed to? Did I cross some imaginary boundary line that I wasn’t aware of? Did someone file some false complaint against me? Your imagination runs amok.
Even though you know that you haven’t done anything wrong, that message has put you into panic mode, you’re scared to death to make the return call.
You manage to pull yourself together. You make the call. You get voicemail. “Leave a message.”
OK. You’ve done your part; you’ve returned the message. But you’re still left with the worry. What? What’s this about? What did I do?
You talk to your family and friends. “What do you make of this?” “Does it sound bad to you?” Now, not only you but your family and friends are on edge, all desperately want the assurance that you are not in some kind of registry-trouble.
Phone-tag ensues. Two long days of phone-tag. Two days of worry, sweating, freaking out.
The registry has a way of intimidating, even by the silence of the phone.
When you make actual contact with the registry guy, you’re told “We don’t have any record of you having registered this year!” “You need to come down to the office.”
WHAT? Now your hands are shaking, your heart is thumping out of your chest.
You know you registered. You remember the exact date. You remember every detail, their computers weren’t working that day, you paid your registry fee in cash, they don’t take checks, they don’t accept credit cards, they had to give you a hand written receipt, both you and the registry guy signed it. The registration procedure is intimidating, not something easily forgotten.
In a panic, you pull out the “Registration File” you keep.” Please be here, please be here”, you pray to the cosmic gods. Then, “Yes, thank you, thank you, thank you.” Your receipt. It’s here. You knew you had it. Over the years you’ve learned to keep your receipts, your notes of interactions with the registry, parole, law enforcement, etc. You can’t be “too safe”. (What happens to homeless registrants, where are they supposed to keep safe, their receipts and notes?)
The registry is intimidating, it forces you to constantly second guess yourself even when you know the answer.
You make a call. “I’ve got my signed receipt right here” you say to the registry guy. “Can I email you a copy?”
“No” he tells you. “You need to come to the office. Tomorrow. 11AM.”
Your brain kicks into over-drive again. For some reason all you can think about is the “sting operations” you’ve heard about. Registrants called to one location under a pretense and then rounded up and hauled back to prisons, like cattle, for violations or offenses they may not have even known they had.
Is that what this is, you wonder? Will there be deputies there, waiting to arrest me? What did I do? If I didn’t do anything, why can’t I just email a copy of my receipt? This can’t be good. This is bad.
Intimidation. Nerve-wracking. Frightening. Scary. Over-whelming. Terrifying. You don’t sleep that night.
11AM the following day. You show up, show the registry guy your receipt. “Yep, that’s what I needed” he says. “Let me just make a copy for my records.”
That’s it. It’s taken less than 2 minutes. Your record keeping is obviously better than that of the registry. They can’t find their copy of the receipt, so they rely on you to have your copy (or maybe they’re relying on you NOT to have your copy.)
The registry succeeded in doing what they do best, they’ve kept you in a state of over-whelming panic, intimidating you into believing you’d done something wrong, when the only thing wrong was the incompetence of their system. (In the 21st century who doesn’t have receipt books with copies, one for the customer, one for the vendor? Where was their copy, where’s their accountability?)
A word to the wise-
If it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen. Keep those registry receipts in a safe place.