The Green-Card Holder’s Guide to Americana


The Green-Card Holder’s Guide to Americana


he other day, I received my American green card in the mail. It’s been 12 years since I applied for it. Twelve years is a long time, so as you can imagine, it was a big moment, a moment of considerable merriment and cheer. After performing the requisite fist pumps, Maharashtrian kite dances, and bellowing Marathi obscenities at the sun, I opened the green-card package to inspect my loot.

The physical green card, as I had been told by a multitude of its holders, is not green at all. My card however, was green, which was kind of a letdown because I had prepared myself to be annoyed about the green card not actually being green. I checked my personal information on the card. I found a 12-year-old picture of myself on Flickr and verified that the person on the card was actually me, weird haircut notwithstanding. I then turned my attention to the brochure that accompanied it.

The cover of the brochure shows the US Capitol building with the words “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants” in bold font. I opened the brochure and began to read.

Brochure: Welcome to the United States!

Me: Thank you 🙂

Brochure: Here are some resources to help you get settled.

Me: Why, that is quite helpful, I appreciate it.

Brochure: Let’s get started. Find a place to live.

Me: I already have a house.

Brochure: A big house. A really big one. Far bigger than you’ll ever need.

Me: Why?

Brochure: You’re American now. Your house has to be large enough to accommodate four kids, three guests, and two dogs.

Me: I see.

Brochure: You’ll need a job.

Me: I have a job.

Brochure: A second job to pay for all the unnecessary stuff you’ll buy for your big fat house.

Me: Oh.

Brochure: Get a driving licence and a new car.

Me: What’s wrong with my hatchback?

Brochure: Too small. You’ll need an SUV with all-wheel drive.

Me: Why?

Brochure: What if you have to drive through a tropical rainforest on your way home from the grocery?

Me: True.

Brochure: Locate any recreational and sporting facilities in your community.

Me: I must admit, I am pretty good at table tennis.

Brochure: We call it ping-pong. It isn’t a real sport. You play it in a bar after you’ve had too much to drink and people don’t trust you around the dart board anymore.

Me: Well.

Brochure: Hunting is a sport. Here’s a hunting licence. Also, here’s a fishing licence for when you’ve failed to hunt anything.

Why don’t you take the “lift” to the “ground floor” and carry that body to the “boot” of your car, guvna.

Me: Is this necessary?

Brochure: Register your kids for school.

Me: I don’t have kids.

Brochure: Pay for your neighbour’s kids to go to school then.

Me: But I hate them. One yelled “keep it down” at me when I opened my mailbox a little too loudly.

Brochure: Yes, they are little shits. It’s why you need kids of your own. For protection. Also, tax exemptions.

Me: That sucks.

Brochure: Locate English language classes in your community.

Me: I already speak English. It’s my second language.

Brochure: Sure, the “Queen’s” English. Why don’t you take the “lift” to the “ground floor” and carry that body to the “boot” of your car, guvna.

Me: Hey!

Brochure: Speaking of which, you’ll need a gun. Several guns.

Me: What?

Brochure: Shotgun for hunting, pistol for personal protection, and an assault rifle for assaulting.

Me: Assaulting?

Brochure: Make sure you prepare for emergencies.

Me: How?

Brochure: Watch the news every day and panic over every little thing.

Me: How will that help?

Brochure: Fill an entire room in your house with bread, milk, and eggs in case of inclement weather.

Me: What am I making, bread-and-egg pudding?

Brochure: Ignore everything that happens outside of America. Forget everything you’ve learnt about every other country.

Me: Um.

Brochure: Stop exercising so much. Raise your BMI. You don’t want to stand out in a crowd.

Me: But…

Brochure: I’ve changed my mind about the SUV. Get a muscle car. A motorcycle. A boat.

Me: Hold on.

Brochure: “Rock Flag and Eagle”.

Me: That’s just a line from a TV show.

Brochure: Burgers.

Me: What about them?

Brochure: Budweiser. Baseball. BEYONCÉ!

Me: You’re just mentioning random things now.


Me: This is really getting out of h… wait… that actually sounds… right.

Brochure: Freedom to exercise your religion. Or not. Churches, temples, and mosques in every community. Also, free libraries if you’re into that sciency stuff.

Me: That’s pretty cool.

Brochure: Freedom of expression. No ifs or buts. No discrimination based on age, gender, or sexual orientation.

Me: Wonderful.

Brochure: Citizenship in five years. Voting rights. Visa waivers.

Me: Awesome.

Brochure: Medicare, Medicaid, social security. You’ll look forward to getting old and visiting the doctor.

Me: You know, I was a bit scared before, but this is starting to sound good.

Brochure: Get involved in your community. And visit our website for more information.

Me: Thank you!

Brochure: Remember, never Trump.

Me: Excuse me?

Brochure: I said I like Forrest Gump.

Me: Yes, it was a good movie.

Brochure: Goodbye and good luck, “Permanent Resident”.