I don’t know much about Social Security, but I know this: the visit to the downtown office was an eye-opener.
My son (2 of 4 for you trekkies out there) was diagnosed with Asperger’s and to really get the ball rolling you need to be rejected by the Social Security office. I’m pretty sure that the rejection letter is your paper to get into a secret club, because the trip to the SS office sure seemed like initiation.
I smiled at the greeter and he welcomed me with a “Do you have any guns or knives on you?”
Um…what? Er…not with me. What do you need?
“Please turn off your cell phone.”
Calls probably interrupt the guy with the latex glove, and you don’t want him pissed at you.
I explained to the guard that I had an appointment and he directed me to the sign-in computer, telling me to select option “0”. He was actually rather nice for a big guy with a gun.
I headed over tp the check-in computer put in my son’s SSN, got my slip of paper then sat down. I reviewed my slip of paper and it said to have a seat and wait for my name to be called. I took a few minutes to check out the surroundings. Over the windows of the “tellers” was an electronic sign which said who was currently being help. They had letters A through E and each letter had a number after it. It made me think of a small battleship board. Peoples’ letter-number combinations kept getting called and I noticed that their receipts had those letter-number combinations on them. Mine didn’t. So I got to play the whole mind-game of “should I ask someone about this or should I just play it cool and hope that they eventually call my name.”
To keep my mind off of this I decided to strike up a conversation with someone. Near me was a woman who had a really cool Betty Boop purse. I complimented her on it and she told me the story of how she bought it along with five other ones at some place up the street and all of the other ones had fallen apart. As had her Betty Boop flip flops. I got to hear all about her collection of Betty Boop paraphernalia. She shared that she hadn’t actually seen any of the cartoons, but believed that they were taken off because of how risqé she was. She has two boys and was irritated at how long she had been waiting for her battleship number to be called.
I had quite a bit of time to people-watch and I started noticing something. Almost everyone there looked like they were going through a really hard time. Some people were disabled. Some people wore ill-fitting and dirty clothes. Almost everyone looked down-on-their-luck. All of them were cranky at having to wait so long. It made me wonder what kind of stories each person had that led them to this office on this day. It made me thankful for all of the things that have gone right in my life. It made me frustrated on their behalf for having to navigate the maze of red-tape and bureaucracy to get the help they needed.
Despite cellphones not being allowed to be one, about half of the people had their phones on and were using them. I was waiting for the guard to crack the whip but he never did. I was glad–I couldn’t see the big deal. I kept mine off out of consideration, but missed it being on to tell what time it was. I swear they took a lesson off of the casinos. After a while my thinking got the better of me and I went to the guard to ask about the “calling a name” vs. “calling bingo numbers” receipts, and as he assured me that they would call my name, someone came out and did call it.
The office worker who called my name looked like an accountant. Go ahead–picture an accountant in your mind. Got it? Yeah–that was him. The odd thing was that from the time that I made eye-contact with him until when I left he did not stop talking. He did include some punctuation to what he was saying, but at no time was there a pause for me to say anything. That was fine, actually, because he was able to expedite the denial letter and get me back out the door quite quickly. He did excuse himself two times to go get a printout. I think that he used those breaks to draw breath. He then lead me to the exit and wished me luck.