Postal Security

Normally, I’m not going to go on a rant about government offices because it is what it is, but I’m pretty irritated about this morning’s foray – which bled well into the afternoon – to the “local” Social Security office in Olean, NY. This is as close as one gets to such an office if you live in Bradford, PA. Not the worst drive; 25 miles or so. Just inconvenient. My brother, henceforth referred to as “the Male Sibling Unit”, lost his original Social Security card and needs it to be able to obtain a state-issued ID. Why my mother or his caseworker never got him one, I will never know. I certainly bitched about it enough before Mom died and he moved in with me. Apparently mentally challenged individuals aren’t encouraged to own some form of acceptable ID. Unless they decide to become a Democrat so they can “vote for Bernie Sanders,” as the Male Sibling Unit recently announced. I’ve put off taking him over there simply because it meant taking him out of workshop for a day and disrupting his OCD routine, but I could procrastinate no more. His nightly inquiries about the Democratic Primary and needing to “make my vote count and make that asshole Trump go away” forced me into action.

The Social Security office is monstrous. It’s a huge, cavernous office space seemingly in need of all that square footage for the thousands and thousands of manila files housed there in this age of electronic filing. At the time that we were there, the office appeared to employ two representatives and a security guard. Both reps were safe behind what might have been bullet-proof glass ( in case some senior goes on a bloody, geriatric rampage and tosses his walker against the glass, I suppose) with a little trough to funnel paperwork through.

3rd February 1953: A model posing with a selection of office equipment. (Photo by Chaloner Woods/Getty Images)

The electronic check-in system was broken, so a handwritten sign advised all who entered to “take a number”. We took #40. Soon after, the rep called on #22. We settled into cheap, plastic chairs amongst the poor, unwashed, and elderly masses wearily resigned to waiting their turn. Most only had a question when summoned by number, over the loudspeaker, to appproach the glass.  We were soon to find out that there was not a #23, 24, or 25. They just didn’t exist. There was not a #37, 38, or 39, either, which did hurry our wait time along. Before our number was called, an elderly man came in and walked up to the window. The guard, who appeared not much younger than the guy, sternly told him he needed to take a number and wait his turn. He said, “I just wanted to tell you that I tried to call, but I kept saying ‘Representative’ and it kept asking me if I wanted to speak to one. It took me less time to drive here.”

When our number was called, I explained that we were there to obtain a replacement Social Security card for my brother so that he could go get his State ID. I said we had already printed the application, filled it out, and brought the acceptable “other” forms of ID as outlined on the fact sheet accompanying said form. She took his birth certificate, insurance cards, and the application and looked at them for a while.

“I can’t take these cards,” she said, “because they don’t have his Social Security number on them.”

Apparently some cards from Pennsylvania don’t have that information on them. Hence the need for a Social Security card, maybe? I asked why that appeared as an accepted form of ID if NOT EVERY STATE had the proper information on them. Her answer wasn’t even bureaucratic bullshit.

“I don’t know.” She shrugged.

She then told me that if I could get my brother’s doctor to affirm, on company letterhead, that my brother was a patient at said practice, we could “just mail that in” with the application and we “didn’t need any” proof of ID. Because OBVIOUSLY, his doctor knows who he is better than me, his sister ALL OF HIS FREAKING LIFE. Oh wait, I forgot: I am less credible because I am not a doctor. Ummmm….but seriously? Why not make THAT little nugget of info available on the website instead of incorrect, erroneous information? You know, “Just get your doctor to verify your identity.”

Oh wait. It’s a government website. No need for further explanation. I gotcha. Our tax dollars at work, people.  I would never, ever wish going postal on those three lost government employees in that warehouse of an office, but that’s because I am semi-possessed of my mental faculties.

At least there will be plenty of space for them to hide if someone does get tired of being asked to ask for a Representative as he or she waits on hold, and comes in a-shootin’, overpowering the elderly security guard tasked with protecting those two chicks behind the glass.

Needless to say, “Those douchebags” will most likely be the topic of the Male Sibling Unit’s conversation tonight. It will make for a much-needed departure from the usual “Fuck Trump” convo.

There is a silver lining, I guess.




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