Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Trip to the Social Security Office

Today I had the pleasure of going to the local Social Security Administration office to get duplicate cards for the young ins. What follows is a brief narrative of how my hour-and-a-half went.

Walk in the front door and Officer Tim, SSA Security, greats me by saying, "Sir, do you have any guns or weapons?" I told him I was fresh out and he gave me a ticket and told me to take a seat. I got ticket number A97, they were on A78 when I sat down. I pull out the cell phone to check for messages. Tim strolls over to tell me it was against government regulations to have a cell phone turned on in the SSA office...let alone dare to use it.

I then see a sign that says no smoking, eating or drinking in the SSA office. And there wasn't a single magazine in the whole place...just a rack of brochures that all looked the same. They did have a 13 inch television mounted on the wall that was showing some soap opera. Of course the sound was off. My guess is there must be some government regulation against sound in the lobby. Not an adult ADD friendly lobby. I like my kids' orthodontist office. Free drinks, magazines, wooden puzzles and a big fish tank make the wait go so much smoother.

So I start out sitting on the opposite side of the lobby from Tim and his captive court. Blissfully alone for mere seconds, that bliss was sson shattered by take-your-kids-to the-government-office-day. knucklehead parents showed up with their bratty kids in tow. I knew I should have sat next to the narcoleptic in the NASCAR hat.

On my left was a Dad with three boys under the age of four and his huge old, ratting leather briefcase. He opened it and it was chock-full of file folders. And every one of those folders was a superhero folder. Spidey, Batman, Superman, real professional filing system he had there. While dad shuffled his folders, the boys climbed all over the only interesting thing in the lobby, the water fountain. The boys kind of smelled like that might have been the first water they'd seen in many days.

On my right side sat mom and her equally dishevelled daughter. You could instantly tell mom was going to be one of those parents so consumed with the fear that her horrible child management skills might be revealed for all to see that she obsessively tries to control the kid's every movement or noise. Of course, kids in these scenarios tend to just feed off of mom's helplessness by doing everything possible to humiliate mom. The little girl made repeated trips to the bathroom where she seemed to enjoy the sound of her little voice echoing off the tile walls. Her specialty was making fart sounds. At some point in the wait, mom disappeared from the lobby without getting her administrative business done-perhaps just a dry run.

The entire time I sat in the lobby with the kids and their clueless parents, Tim was engaged in an on-and-off, eleven-button-loud conversation in broken German with a group of folks who actually turned out not to be German at all; just deaf.

About the time my turn came to venture to one of the service windows, there was a flare-up betweeen a bureaucrat and an eerily Evil Knievel-looking patron who didn't like how the bureaucrat behind the glass was speaking to him. At one point, the patron told the bureaucrat he'd better drop the mother *f-ing* attitude. Upon hearing voices louder than his own, Tim immediately disengaged from his discussion about the conquests of Frederick the Great to forcefully step in and inform the agitated patron that it was against government regulations to curse in a federal facility. Tim told Evil that if he didn't leave the premises, he'd take him outside for a little Homeland Security love. I left soon after...but well before Evil Knievel could have returned with contraband food, drink, a cell phone and or a really big gun.

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