This article is a delight to read and a great glimpse into the mundane horrors of beaurocratic incompetence.

FNU, as I would soon come to learn, stands for “First Name Unknown.” This was strange, mildly infuriating even, because I’ve always been quite sure of my first name. In fact, I was certain that this name was made known, clearly and in capital letters, in multiple sections on the mountain of paperwork I had submitted to the USCIS.

FNU, which should have at least been typed out as F.N.U. to stand out as a clear abbreviation, could easily disguise itself as an actual part of my name. No dots to separate the letters. Just three alphabets strung together without a clear linguistic reference for their pronunciation. Fnoo? Fuh-nu?

The gnu, an African even-toed ungulate, is the only close taxonomic relative to the fnu. Similarly misunderstood, gnus and fnus have only one other thing in common: they both long for non-fatal, uncomplicated migrations to foreign lands.

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