Thoughts from the SSA

I haven’t blogged in a while. It’s not due to lack of material… Although some of what’s rattling around in my brain is far too convoluted to put into words because that would make it real and I’m not ready for that yet. Some of what’s rattling around in my brain isn’t my story to tell. Some of what’s in my brain disappears moments after the brilliance enters like the light from a lightening bug in the summer dusk. 

So what is it that has lured me back to the act of adding words to “paper” you ask? A visit to the local SSA office. IMG_1360.PNG

The divorce was officially finalized over three years ago… I finally got around to fixing my Driver’s License name in December. Now seems like a good time to fix it on my social security card. 

We’re under a tornado watch today and the weather is extra gloomy so I think to myself “self, today would be a good day. Maybe the bad weather will keep the masses at bay”

I was wrong. Know who else had the same idea I did? Everyone. Literally. 

The waiting area in the office had every seat taken. A sea of blue hairs filling every vacant seat in the lobby. I check in anyway and take my ticket. A216. I look at the board to see what number they are on. A209. Ok… Not too bad. I just need a name change. It’s not like I’m hear to discuss benefits or anything else that would be time consuming… Not like the geriatric crowd I’m surrounded by like I’m grocery shopping mid day with the rest of the sun city inhabitants. 

There is absolutely nothing boring about people watching in a government office.  The young mother who smiles apologetically as her toddler expresses his fascination with the elderly man’s cane… The elderly man who stares in disgust at the same toddler and scans the room to see if there are any empty seats.  There aren’t.  The variety of languages heard as people think that speaking a foreign language gives them a free pass to have heated conversations with one another… then there’s the lady 4 people away from me who is completely out of fucks to give as she passionately tells the person on the other end of the phone how pleased she is to be taking care of the “social issue for her” and then discusses all the other things she’s handling for some unnamed female in her life before the security guard returned from his smoke break only to tell her to take her call outside.  The unnamed female could be a mother, but from the venom as she spoke, I’m thinking more along the lines of an in-law or crazy aunt she was passive aggressively guilted into helping with the mundane tasks.

I glance at my watch, certain that I had been there for a while without hearing any new numbers called…. that’s when I noticed that there is only one window open.  ONE.  Shit.  And time is passing at a glacial pace because what has felt like an hour has only been about 23 minutes.  

A friend reminded me that other locations are generally better staffed and therefore quicker service… but a good 30+ minutes away.  I weigh the options as the second hand continues to cycle through minutes I will never get back and decide to take a risk and head into Austin.

Now even though I knew EXACTLY where this office was, it did take me a bit longer than 30 minutes to get there… not because of traffic this time, but because I was so wrapped up in singing along with the Pitch Perfect soundtrack now that I got my stereo working again (free time… remember?) that i missed my exit and had to loop back around. 

Got to the Austin office at 12:07 and proceeded to enter my information to the “self-serve kiosk” that assigns you your ticket based on why you are there.  Name change or replacement cards get a different designation than say, benefits questions.  In the efficiency one has grown to expect from government entities, I had to enter my information 4 times because the touch screen kept double entering numbers or not entering them in at all when trying to enter my social security number.  And there’s no “backspace” so you either get it perfect or you have to start completely over. Four Times.

Finally the devil machine spits out a slip of paper with my number on it.  A236.  I look to see where they are in the crowd.  For the A’s they are at A214.  Oh Sweet Baby Jesus What have I done?!?  Have I just entered the ninth circle of hell?  I’m tempted to call it a day and camp out tomorrow morning before the office opens like a Best Buy on Black Friday when I hear numbers being called.  I take a look at my surroundings and see that at least this location has 4 open windows!! Thank the good lord and all that is holy.  Better than that, 10 minutes after my arrival, someone in this office GETS that if you’ve filled out the proper forms and have the proper ID with you, requesting a replacement card or correction is a quick and painless process so the “A” numbers are called quickly and lined up like cattle headed to market.  At this point, your ACTUAL number doesn’t matter.  Show the nice lady at the security station that you know how to read instructions by having everything in order and she will put you in a new line.  Which is awesome.  Except for the fact that now I’m directly behind the guy who is 19 but read the instructions for what children (you know, UNDER the age of 19) need to bring for identity.  He’s arguing with the lady.  He’s filled out the wrong form.  He’s in my way and making me stabby.  Finally resigned to the fact that he’s not going to win an argument with her, he steps aside to allow those of us who DID fill out the right form and brought the right ID with us to move on with our lives.

Returned to my car, receipt in hand at 12:29. Just out of idle curiosity, I stopped back in to the Georgetown office on my way home to see where they were. Now serving ticket A210.  I’m starting to think that the lobby of the Georgetown SSA office wasn’t always full of the elderly… That’s just what happens when you’re waiting for your number to be called. 

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