Thursday, August 11, 2005

Who I Was

I spent yesterday morning in the Social Security Office with three children. What could spell good humor more than pointless beauracracy with small, wiggling children as background distraction? What better than to spend 90 minutes driving each way to the office? Just how, asks the reader, did I earn such a felicitous task? Self improvement darling ones. I have registered at the local college for fall classes and have requested money from the gummint to finance my foray back into the halls of knowledge. It seems as though my last foray into the Social Security Administration didn't take and even though I have been paying taxes as a married person for 11 years, the SSA still seems to think I am single. Until I manage to straighten out my dual nature, no Pell grant for me. So off we go kalloo kallay.

I arrive at the office after a searching exhaustively for a drab little building eventually found tucked behind a thrift store. Ominously, there is an armed guard and a pointed warning sign about guns and knives. This place has no money and this building and it's contents do not strike me as having a high enough profile for a terror target. Who exactly do they think will attack? Or even menance? Deranged libertarians? Well they do get one percent of the vote here in Washington. Hmmmmm. I hustle me children through the doors and take a number from the ticket machine. As I grab number 64 I glance at the portrait of the President that graces all government outlets.

It is the typical presidential portrait with the flag in the background, but it reminds me of a school picture. Ya'll know school photo day, there is invariably the percentage of kids who forget and have an uncomfortable look on thier face because they are not in the sartorial statement the wished to be immortalized in. The photographer has a lot of kids to get through and just wants a minimally acceptable photo. You'd think that the photographer of the official presidential portrait would manage to make the leader of the free world look better than the guy hustling through 6th graders. It is the same with former President Clinton. Bush Sr.'s portrait looks as though he is aping a painting. Reagan looks very relaxed in front of the camera, as befits a former denizen of Hollywood.

As I walk my children to the seats there is a small but audible sigh that rises from the waiting group of supplicants. They do not know my children and can not be blamed for not wanting to listen to rowdiness or a wailing infant. The Infant is in fact asleep, and I fervently entreat the Almighty that she stay that way. Seeing the waiting room now contains 3 small children, the office workers close two of the four service windows. Another restless mumble sweeps the supplicants and then the outer door opens to admit another 12 people. Another service window promptly closes to ensure maximum wait time among the natives. If anymore people take a number I expect the remaining window to close and an "out to lunch" sign to appear. This is why there is an armed guard, to keep the crowd from rushing the windows and demanding to fill out form TPH3X9000.

At last they call my number and I herd my offspring to the service window. It is a thick plexiglass barrier I have not seen outside movie portrayals of prisons. I look around for the phone set and leg shackles. I pause here because I am trying to figure out how best to entertainingly describe what is mindboggling boring and silly at the same time. The worker bee was nice enough, unlike some inmates of the Department of Motor Vehicles, it didn't seem like she enjoyed hassling you, hassling you was just happened to be her job description. Apparently, a certified birth certificate is not adequate proof to the Powers that Be of who I was before entering into the State of Wedded Bliss. It is not who I have become officially that they are challenging but I who I was officially and my first foray into documented life is not enough to prove it.

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