Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fun with Government Offices and GPS

Who knew changing my name would be this much fun? First off, can someone please explain to me why I need to go IN PERSON to the Social Security office to change my last name when everything else at Social Security can be done online? Seriously. Go to their website. There is an entire page dedicated to "Things You Can Do Online" which includes signing up for every benefit program under the sun, but getting married and changing to your husband's last name is not one of them. For that, you must physically go to a field office. This makes no sense. Want SSI checks? No problem, just click here! Want to report wages under a new name? Oh no no no! We're going to need to see you in person. Why?? Why can't I just fill out a form and submit a copy of my marriage license online? I don't get it.

So, clearly, I was annoyed about having to take time off work to take care of this but already it's been a month since I got married. I figured I had better stop stalling and get it done. Fortunately, there is a field office about 15 minutes from where I live, so I was hopeful that I could get this over with pretty quickly and get to work before 10. And I probably could have gotten it over with pretty quickly had I not relied on my GPS to get me there. TomTom strikes again! I had a vague idea of where the Social Security office was but since I wasn't exactly sure, I plugged the address into the GPS. And sure enough, GPS sent me the wrong way. Seriously, TomTom has to be the worst GPS on the market right now. T-squared has screwed me more times that I can count and has yet to buy me dinner. And I know it's not just me. Friends have told me that they too have been in the middle of a bridge and been told by Tom "You have reached your destination!" And that's kind of what happened on Wednesday morning.

I turned off the highway and, as per Tom's directions, made a left at the light. In 400 yards I was supposed to arrive at my destination: 297 Knollwood Road. Except that in 400 yards I wasn't at 297 Knollwood. I had 399 Knollwood on my right, and... 41 Knollwood on my left. Awesome. So I think, Okaaaay, maybe the 3 fell off? Maybe that is really 341. So I continue straight and the next building on the left is... 45 Knollwood. F me. At this point Tom thinks I he already got me to my destination so he isn't even trying to help me out anymore. Not "turn around when possible” or anything. And I'm totally confused: do I continue going straight since the odd numbers are on the left and I haven't come into the 200s yet? Or do I turn around because the numbers on the right side are already into the 400s? I decide to go straight. MISTAKE. Not long after I passed 45 Knollwood, there ceased to be any buildings at all on the left side and there was also no place to turn around. I ended up driving a good five minutes out of my way before I finally was able to make a U-turn. Okay, so now I'm turned around and driving back from whence I came, and as I pass 45 Knollwood again Tom announces "You have reached your destination!" Apparently, my destination is Staples. It was the only other building around! I ignored it before because, logically, I didn't think Social Security was renting space inside Staples, but who knows? Now I’m doubting myself. So I drive into the Staples shopping center trying to keep an open mind, but the only numbered building I see is 327. And for a second I honestly consider going inside Staples to ask them if they are 297 Knollwood. Can you image? Um, hi! Which aisle is Social Security in? Oy.

Thankfully, common sense prevailed. I pulled over, turned Tom off, and was about to call the office itself for directions when I saw an office building on the opposite side of the road from where Tom had originally told me to turn left. No... could it be? Could Tom have told me to turn left when I should have turned RIGHT? Sure enough, there, RIGHT off the highway, not left, onto Knollood was 297. F-ing A, Tom. F-ing A.

Once I actually made it into the office it was pretty much smooth sailing. What an interesting cross-section of life in there though. Wow. While waiting in line to hear my number called, I saw a blind man with a seeing-eye dog trying to figure out from the clerk why he got an overpayment letter demanding he repay Zero dollars and Zero cents. And then there was the lady who threw a fit because they wouldn't see her because she missed her appointment. Apparently she was late because she couldn't find the office and was yelling at the other clerk "Nobody knows where this place is!!" To which the clerk responded "Nobody? I know where it is." And then the lady really went ballistic. Can't say I don't relate.

Hopefully all is well that ends well. They took my form and looked at my marriage certificate and said that I should be receiving my new card in a week. Fingers crossed.

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