Monday, March 3, 2008

You're not just a name, you're a number

While doing research on-line for the AfterWords section that follows The Blue Zone by Andrew Gross in our latest volume of Select Editions, I got so interested in the topic of the Federal Witness Protection Program that I kind of got lost in the various Web sites that describe its history. You know how it is . . . one link led to another, which led to another, which led to another . . .

So I soon I found myself on the government’s Social Security Administration Web site—I have no idea how I got there, but presumably it had something to do with the fact that participants in the Witness Protection Program are issued new Social Security numbers—and what I found was fascinating.

There’s an in-depth history of Social Security numbers on the government site, along with an explanation of what they mean. Did you know that numbers are not assigned sequentially, and that the first Social Security number issued in 1936 (and, by the way, no one knows to whom that number was issued) is not the lowest? And did you know that the first three digits of a person’s Social Security number indicate the geographical area in which that number was applied for?

It brings to mind an interesting little coincidence in my family . . . I was shocked to discover when I married my husband that his Social Security number and my father’s Social Security number contain exactly the same digits (except for one). They’re all shuffled in a different order, but they’re the same—except for that pesky one. That must be the reason I could never memorize either of them!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Social Security number is a way for government agencies to track us. (Benevolently, so far.)