Friday, May 17, 2019
Hang on, everyone, this is going to be a chaotic ride today! See, we're actually too exhausted and frustrated to do a proper post about Alabama's abortion laws, possible impending war with Iran, the unbridled idiocy of adding an "adversity score" to SAT results, or the Democrats doing a marathon session to read the entire Mueller Report out loud (for reasons we can't even begin to fathom, although it is fun watching them try to sound out the polysyllabic words).
The cause of our distraction and dysfunction relates to a visit that the Jarlsberg family paid to the local Social Security office today. By way of backstory, Stilton isn't taking Social Security yet (though he's old enough and has paid tens of thousands of dollars into the freaking system) but theoretically, according to our new paid financial advisor, Mrs. J could claim a social security spousal benefit anyway (she doesn't qualify based on her own work record, because it was for a government agency with a separate retirement plan).
So we conveniently filed her claim online, and it was only a week or so later that we received a letter saying that Mrs. J had to call someone at the Social Security office. It took her three attempts before anyone bothered to call back, at which point she was told that she had to report to a crowded field office because she'd been flagged as a possible fraud. Swell.
So today was the big day, and the Jarlsbergs showed up at the packed United Nations-style waiting room (side note: apparently America's melting pot has been supplanted by cold cash) where a nice police officer frequently had to tell everyone to shut the heck up so that the old, infirm, and foreigners could hear the service numbers which were occasionally called through what sounded like a big electric kazoo. It was like being in the hold of a slaving ship, only with passengers playing with their smartphones.
Fortunately we had an actual appointment, meaning we only had to wait with the great unwashed for two and a half hours before being called in. And from there, everything was easy! It only took the charming and personable clerk five minutes to explain that our claim was rejected and that Mrs. J can't get any social security payments until her workaholic husband also signs on as a ward of the state. She did not tell us to "piss up a rope," "screw ourselves," or "take a flying f*ck at a rolling donut," though we're pretty sure these notions were implied.
Since Social Security knew from the initial application that they were going to deny the claim, why didn't they just put THAT in the letter, rather than ordering us to come in and waste hours of our time? Oh yeah, because they had to complete their investigation of the whole "fraud" thing - the accusation of which, it turns out, is randomly assigned by a computer to provide maximum annoyance. To put Mrs. J right in the eyes of God and country, we were told to bring birth certificates, marriage licenses, name change documents, multiple forms of identification, fingerprints, DNA cheek swabs, and about 10 pounds of other documentation.
Our clerk started the interrogation by asking for Mrs. J's driver's license, which she tap-tap-tapped into a database. "Okay," she smiled, "you're all done." We asked about all the other things our Sherpa had struggled to carry in, and she said, "Oh no, we don't need any of that."
So we were free to go, claim denied, but with the renewed confidence of knowing that seamless proof of citizenship and identity can apparently be established by a minor functionary's quick glance at a driver's license.
While the entire experience was only a bit over 3 hours, the soul-sapping nature of the visit (and the unsatisfying outcome) has left us drained and discouraged.
We have seen the future, and it doesn't work worth a damn.
PS: The only thing we enjoyed about the visit to this gulag was seeing framed photos of Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the wall, and guessing how many people who were there to claim our tax dollars were annoyed by pictures of our President and Vice President.
Posted by Stilton Jarlsberg at 12:01 AM