The Social Security office is a soul crushing place. Like most bureaucratic departments it’s a standard take a ticket number and wait to be called deal. Over the course of three days I waited to be called for four and a half hours. It is a crazy world in there. It seems to be the meeting place of all the people who think it is acceptable to play games on their phone with the volume all the way up, there was a woman who was wearing a one piece swimsuit in lieu of a top and the security guard (who, I was told by one person, had been there several years) had clearly crossed the line from dead-end job depression into pure madness:
Tanoy: Ticket A51 to window twenty-two. A five one. Window two two.
Security guard: Oh! A52 you better be getting ready! You ready A52? You better be.
Tanoy: If you miss your call you must take a new ticket and start again.
Security guard: Ain’t no way around that! That is the LAW! FEDERAL LAW!
My first morning at Social Security was fairly easy, I waited for an hour and was called up to a window with a really nice guy who had gone to LSU and used to be a pro baseball player. We got halfway through the process when he went, “So the computer won’t let me go any further because of something in the system. You’re going to have to go and talk to your school so they can fix it.” Annoying, but not a problem. So off I went to FIU where they fixed the problem and gave me some more paperwork which they said would help the next day.
Day number two was an ordeal. I arrived just past 9am and was given ticket number G30. Over the course of an hour and a half not a single G ticket was called. When I finally got called up the man at the window was talking on his mobile phone. I sat down and waited. He gestured for my paperwork and finally hung up. “You are missing a start date on this letter.” He said almost immediately. He was right, on the letter I had been given the day before, next to the words ‘Start date’, was a blank space where nothing had been filled in.
“Oh… well I can tell you when it is. It’s next week. It’s the eighteenth.”
“No. Get them to write you a new one and come back.”
“But I just waited for an hour and a half-”
“You don’t have a start date written down.”
“I can tell you when it is. Everything else is in order.”
“Come back tomorrow.”
“You’re a mean man and I don’t like you.” I didn’t say that part. I just gathered up my paperwork and stormed off without a word.
Day three was even longer. This time my ticket number was G66 and not a single G was called was almost two hours. I made friends was a woman from Chicago who had been trying to get her autistic daughter’s disability benefits restarted for over a year since she moved from the other side of Florida. I realised my battle for a Social Security Number really wasn’t that bad. Finally I was called, the woman barely looked at me and five minutes later I walked out with one less thing on my to do list.
This past week has been a baptism of fire into adulthood. On Monday I was sat surrounded by a circle of paperwork without a clue where to start. It has taken four days but I have ticked 80% of the items off my to do list (with only a couple of new additions) and I am feeling infinitely less stressed. I also managed to find the time to make friends with the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Finally, a few people have asked the easiest way to find my blog. I post the link every now and again on Facebook for big posts but if you want to know every time I post something you can click the ‘Follow’ button on the bottom right corner of your screen and you will receive an email whenever I update.