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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Refrigerator soup...

Needing a copy of my Social Security card for the new outfit which took over my previous employer, I innocently walked into the local office expecting maybe a half hour or so wait. Hah! That office was a distillate of what is wrong with our country. There were 50 people crammed into a small area seated on plastic chairs which were all connected and had no room between them. There was only one service window open, but we were well protected by two security guards (One has to appreciate how fast the 300 pound young man jumped up to tell a woman to quit smoking in front of the building). Few people had any preparation and asked the same questions repeatedly. Repeatedly. A young Hispanic couple was there with their soon-to-be anchor baby seeking to get a Social Security number for the baby. They spoke no English. The clerk spoke no Spanish. They played a game of Charades until another Hispanic gentleman came in and graciously interpreted for both parties. They were number 227. I was number 228. They took 30 minutes by themselves. Seated next to me was an unfortunate woman who had apparently had a stroke and she was deaf as well. Her hair was matted and filthy and she kept inspecting me and even sniffed me at one point. She was no more than six inches away. That might have unnerved me but the man across the room who came in to get a card so that he could get a photo ID from DMV was pontificating loud and strangely clear in one of those voices nurtured by nights spent in a whisky bottle and smoking tens of thousands of cigarettes. He was number 225. He couldn't get an ID from DMV without a Social Security card or a birth certificate. Social Security wouldn't issue a card without either a DMV photo ID or a birth certificate. He seemed to think he could argue his way into getting his card. He was fucked. And in his loud boisterous way, he let everyone in the joint know it wasn't the first time in his life either, sharing with us all some of his life experiences including time spent in prison for attempted murder. He started the unraveling of my nerves.
Seated on the opposite side of the grayheaded lady from me was number 226. I had not really looked at him as my focus was on the front of the office. He made a joke about "You wonder how some of these people tie their shoes in the morning" and I cracked back "I wonder how some of them even recognize "morning". He laughed and I looked at him and he was Karl Rove. Okay, not the real one (I think), but he was a dead ringer. That unnerved me. He was there to apply for Social Security and to find out if he could keep on working. He didn't want to do it online because he didn't trust the Internet. !.
So there it was. The good, the bad and the ugly. America. All crammed into a little office in Fredericksburg, VA.

4 comments:

Heidi Li said...

This sounds like a hellacious experience, Jack.

democraticjack said...

Oh Heidi, there are no words. And today I had to go to DMV to renew my driver's license. I was practically catatonic by the time they called my name and handed me my new license with the picture of some old dude on it. OMG! I have turned into Wilford Brimley.

tinglio said...

What is the lesson here about government?

democraticjack said...

Hey tinglio, Merry Christmas.
To me it illustrated the inefficency of a system so bloated that it has misguided priorites and is now inadequate and apathetic.