After marriage I made my dutiful visit to the Social Security office to request a new card with my new name. However, I waited and waited and waited and waited… and it never came. Five years later, I decided to brave the miserable experience again. This time in a new state, a new city, and with four little children.
Here are my observations after the experience:
1. Pulling into the parking lot only to find that you have to drive around for ten minutes before a space opens up is a real optimism killer.
2. You now check in at a computer; this computer asked me a question that really perplexed me. As I stood there thinking, the security guard came over to see what was impeding the “progress.” It took her approximately .8 seconds to say, “Ma’am, what are you here for today?” I explained my predicament and ba-da-bing-tap-tap-tap-b-dum-woo-woo-woo-whop her fingers flew through the touch screen questionnaire and my waiting ticket printed out of the machine. Observation: I don’t particularly like rude, impatient people, but I will take rude, impatient helpful people any day over sugary-sweet employees who have no idea what’s going on.
3. The Social Security office was not exceptionally social.
4. The Social Security office did not make me feel especially secure, except in the knowledge that I would be there awhile.
5. The TV running information regarding how you really should be doing this online and saving yourself (and them) the trouble of dealing with your matter in person actually suggested that you “Like” them on Facebook and “Follow” them on Twitter. I would love to meet the person who has done that.
6a. A big sign posted in plain view on the wall stated something like this: Any person displaying disruptive, angry, or violent behavior towards a social security worker will be subject to fines, arrest, or imprisonment.
6b. I’m pretty sure that some of the folks who packed out that waiting room had been diagnosed with manic depression, bipolar, OCD, and other disorders that cause disturbing behavior; even others had obviously done their time in the fields of alcohol and drugs. It was curious to me how nicely they all were behaving; of course we were all feeling impatient and a little upset with the system, but somehow we suppressed those feelings and made it through.
6c. A few strictly enforced rules do an amazing job of curbing bad behavior.
7. I do have to admit that although the two workers I dealt with directly were moderately rude at the beginning, once they found out that I wasn’t mad at life or at them (and that my children were being angels, thank God!), they were actually nice.
And the happy conclusion… my card came in the mail today: hooray! I’m real!