Monday, January 28, 2008

governmental institutions can eat a lemon!

I just went to the social security office for the SECOND TIME in about 2 weeks and waited for THREE HOURS on top of the one and a half hours I spent the first time in order to go through the exhilarating process of getting my name changed. It should be known that I, "unlike" most people, loathe going to government offices of any kind, for several reasons, two of which I will list here:

Reason 1: Government offices are only open at times which mandate missing work in order to get whatever form of identification you need.

Reason 2: Most government offices have an average wait time of 2 hours. Average. Which means that you have to miss work for an average of 2 hours in order to get whatever form of identification you need.

Reason 3: Instead of working together, all the government offices have their own independently complex way of doing things with seemingly no regard for how it works (or more accurately doesn't work) with other offices. i.e. the reason I had to go to the SSA a second time was because when I got up to the lady at window #17 with my marriage license, drivers license and birth certificate.....she said that because my marriage license didn't have my birth date on it, I needed to get my drivers license changed first. Let it be known that there was NO PLACE on the marriage license for a birth date, and it didn't matter that I had my driver's license and BIRTH certificate with me, both bearing my name AND birthday on them, the very same name listed on the marriage license. You'd think that if the SSA wanted the marriage license to have your birthday on it, then the county clerks office would make a space for it! RED TAPE RULES!!

On a positive note, I enjoy people watching while I'm at places like this. It's fun because there is absolutely no specific demographic for these institutions, especially the social security office. Everyone needs one, so everyone, or at least a random sampling of everyone is there. It's fun. I like listening to what people talk about while they're there, what form of entertainment they've brought with them. iPods, magazines, newspapers, gameboiiiis, and of course books. I always forget to bring stuff with me, and people watching is only really fun for about an hour and a half at most. I think my entertainment of choice would be my NY Times crossword puzzle. WORDS 'R FUN!!

Something I found particularly interesting today was that I saw two people reading the same book. And it wasn't a new bestseller book or anything. I know because I've read it. It's Ken Follett's 1996 drama The Pillars of the Earth. This is not the type of book I usually read at all, but it is the type of book my dad reads, so he lent it to me to read on a plane trip once. I found this synopsis on the interweb: "The epic story of the building of a cathedral in 12th century England and the lives of the people entwined with it and each other is a sensuous, enduring narrative, and a gripping tale of faith, ambition, bloodshed and betrayal." Scandalous! It was actually pretty interesting, but I just thought it was hilarious to see two people reading the same book, and even more hilarious that I'd actually read it before.

Anyway, once I'd waited my THREE HOURS, it took a total of 2 minutes at window #6 to get what I needed and hit the road back to work. Man. Now that's THREE HOURS well spent.


sarah said...

those offices are a nightmare. sortof the opposite pole of what it is like, to get married, right? anyhow, happy happy bday and please send me an email with your address so i can send you a print! tell me which one you like so i can gift you!

Jenni said...

I had other issues with my wedding license, as it got lost and there was a time when we thought we weren't legally married -- the horror. Turns out, my uncle that married us sent the license to the San Antonio County Clerk's office (where we were married) but we got the license in Austin (were it was apparently supposed to be mailed). At one point, neither claimed to have the license. It was awesome.

My favorite "people-watching" story at the SSA office included a father and son waiting in line and the son shows his father something to read. Naturally, the father pulls out his glasses to read this piece of paper -- only THERE WERE NO LENSES IN THE GLASSES!!!

monica said...

these offices often puzzle me as well. ARG! GOVERNMENT! why can't you govern your offices!

Rachel said...

that book was recently added to the Oprah book club list, so that may have something to do with the dual readings...yikes!

fragilemom said...

Geesh! I don't remember going through so much to get my name changed. But then again, that was8 years ago and I'm old! Coulda forgotten already!