Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Trip To The Alternate Universe

Today I got to go to the local Social Security office.  It is two towns over from where I live.  A short trip which would save me the postage on the phone book sized ream of papers I needed to give them for my disability application.  I should have known that this was going to really be a trip into an alternate universe.

It started out innocently enough.  Hubby was driving and was sure he knew where it was and took me to the rather large official looking brick building in the middle of town.  We had to park on a side road since all the handicapped spaces were occupied which meant he had to push me up a hill in my wheelchair and I'm not light.  A fact he very quickly reminded me of.  He parked me under the directory while he went off to use the facilities.  This building looks very official.  Very cold.  Very brickie.  Even the inside is covered in brick.  However, even though this is indeed a government building it is the local government and not the federal government.  The Social Security office was somewhere else so it was back to the car.  My husband had to walk me backwards down the hill so that he didn't remove all the tread of the tires of the wheelchair with the brakes.  Not exactly handicapped friendly. 

After going around the block a few times we end up on the right street.  Of course this was after me holding the map upside down and not being to figure out where we were supposed to be going.  I think I'm going to have to turn in my navigator pin.  My brain fog is playing havoc with my map reading abilities.  Anyway, we are driving down the road looking for 192.  I'm calling out the numbers on my side of the car, "90", "150".  I look to the left and bingo "214".  Hey what happened to the last 75 numbers?  We doubled back which was hard to do in the heavy traffic.  I'm trying to find numbers on the buildings.  Most of them don't have any.  Then both of us look ahead at the strip mall.  No.  It can't be.  Am I in an episode of The Simpsons?  Yes, the Social Security office is in a local strip mall sandwiched between the Super 88 Asian Market and a Dunkin Donuts shop.  I was on the floor of the car I was laughing so hard.

Hubby dropped me off at the front door and I toddled inside.  I found myself standing in a medium sized foyer with customer windows all around the perimeter.  All but three had corrugated metal shutters locked down over them.  There were large red signs that said "All Visitors Must Sign In First"  with arrows pointing to an electronic kiosk.  To my left were rows and rows of empty chairs.  To my right a couple speaking was speaking rapidly in Spanish to someone behind one of the open customer service windows.

As is typical of a goverment facility we were surrounded by signs:
"You are being watched on CCTV"
"No Admitance"
"No Cell Phones"
Some were more fun though:
"No Yelling."
"Do Not Use Offensive Language." 
"This is a Federal Facility and Federal Laws Apply."
"No Standing While Talking with the Service Representative."

I wandered over to the kiosk feeling kind of the like the guy that is refused service until he takes a number even though no one else is in the store.  I got through the overly simple menu choices to which I had to opt for "Other" since "Dropping Off Paperwork" wasn't on the menu.  The kiosk then printed out my number "A71" and hubby and I got to choose our seats in the waiting area while the screen informed us that they were currently serving customer "A70".  Can you see the irony in this???  I kept thinking I really really wanted "The Boy From Ipanema" to play over the intercom and my life would be complete.

If I weren't so tired I would still be laughing hysterically.

The Spanish couple finally finished and left.  Hubby and I sat and watched the TV screen for a while.  Suddenly the number flipped to "A71" and a loud male voice came over the intercom "Will customer number A71 please come to Reception Window number 2."  So we walked 50 feet to our right, past the guy who was sitting by himself behind Reception Window number 1 and sat down.  I told Receptionist #2 I had already applied on line and was just dropping off my paperwork.  He was a young man but I could already see the zombiness of government work had already started sucking his brains out.  He looked at me with a completely expressionless face and asked for my social security number and then my name.  He then asked if this was my 'medical evidence' which I told him yes.  It was more but you don't want to disturb these guys.  If you don't play by the rules things get weird fast.  So I lied and didn't tell him about the video and letters I had included.  I'll let the reviewer worry about that.  I slide the packet over to him.  He told me he would give it to the right person and that they would send me my originals back.  I didn't need them but hey don't upset them.  There are rules you know.  He told me I was all set and I thanked him.  If he has a working brain cell left in there he would make a great poker player.

We got out to the parking lot and I burst out laughing again.  This was so surreal.  It was so government issue.  Don't let them hear you laugh though.  The government zombies might come after you.  They need your brains after all.

1 comment:

  1. You have to wonder what government employees are like outside the office--do they check their invisible tin foil hats at the door and turn back into normal people again? Or maybe they never actually get to leave the building... Nice to know that they're not wasting our tax dollars on fancy trimmings, and that they get some variety in their diets. (Hmm. Asian food again today, or double-glazed donut? Asian or double-glazed?) Love the picture you drew of Gummint Bureaucracy-hope things go well for you w/ the SSA!