A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

21 June 2008

"Security" Issues

Here's another office story...brace yourselves.

I knew I had to do this eventually. Whoever it was who came up with the saying "there's only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes" forgot to factor in "sitting in a Social Security Administration office at least once in your lifetime."

Well, I've been in there a few times...mostly taking my mother there (she swore she'd never drive as long as my father were alive...she kept that promise...so I had to drive her) - so I knew all too well what awaited me behind those doors.

The "take a number...we'll be with you sometime before you die" mentality. The chairs all sitting in a big lobby as if we all came to watch some movie on a screen...only there never was a screen, not even a television. The same inevitable talk that you'd either be privy to overhearing or initiate yourself...which kinda goes like this: "...if I would have known it was going to take this long, I would have gotten something to eat first. How long? I've been here since 11:00..." The requisite squirming and subsequent straightening out in their "more uncomfortable than sitting on a cinderblock" chair, like a school kid seeing the teacher oogling them as they just walk in. "Well, I guess I'm in here for a while." Long pause...long sigh...long wait.

Then the "deli-style" barking of the numbers..."Number 31". You know your number isn't next and it conjures up images of that scene in "Beetle Juice" where Michael Keaton is sitting there with an 8-digit number and the headhunter guy next to him has '3'. You know '31' isn't your number...you know your number isn't even next, but everyone still looks down at theirs just the same...hoping their number will somehow magically turn into the next one to be called. It never happens.

The three numbers in a row they will call to which no one responds. The first...you look around and scan the room, as if you have some vested interest in this somehow. You do in a way, I guess. They call the number after...again, no one shuffles off in their direction to be claimed like the waiting baggage we are all meant to be felt like...and by this time you start getting this wickedly ingenious plan in your head. "I COULD say I had that ticket but lost it somewhere on my way to my 'hard as a brick' seat...and by the time I realized it was gone, I had to take another." But you don't...as you have visions of being pummeled by four 75-year-old women sporting muscles as buff as Schwarzenegger's in "Conan the Destroyer" from carting their eco-friendly car-sized purses for years. Years, like it seems you've been waiting for your number to be called. So, you sit...steadfast, hoping this calling of absent ticket-holders will continue but you know it can't - there were 47 people here before you - and more coming in who have to lean against a counter or wall because the people who brought their kids aren't courteous enough to tell them to "double up" in a seat or sit on their laps so the frail 82-year-old guy with the oxygen tank could sit down. "They" were, after all, there first...why should they relinquish their precious chair?

So, now the next form of "entertainment" commences. You look around the room and make a mental note of everyone who has been there before you and everyone who came after...but most of all, you make that all-important "pen on ink" permanent mental note of the people who came in just two steps before you did. You HATE these people...if only you would have leaped out of your car faster, walked a little quicker, parked instead of circling around three times, or didn't hold the door open for them thinking they would gallantly let you pick your number before them when you both got inside. But they didn't. They never do. All's NOT fair in love and war and waiting in any type of line.

One by one people get up and new ones take their still warm vacant seats...but you have them all memorized. You know there is some order in this chaos...you could retell this order by rote to anyone who asked...you know it so well by now. You might not remember your kids' birthdays or where you put your car keys...but by gosh, you know every single person's ranking in this theatre-sized room. And with each passing call and disappearing voice which mumbles "finally", you know it's only a matter of time. Too much time...but time, nonetheless.

Cut to present-day....

My dealings with this antiquated system of yore was pleasantly replaced with a computer that sported "choices"...unbelievable as it may seem. Yes, the Social Security Administration was actually allowing ME an option. Were they serious?

I quickly eyeballed the candidates as it were - laid out before me on this germy computer touch screen...and as I only needed a replacement Social Security card, I pushed that button. Out came a ticket with not only a number, but also an assigned mysterious sub-category letter. This surely was going to put some serious strain on my mental tracking ability now. I was no card counter in Vegas...this was impossible...I was way beyond my element. But I had one more trick up my sleeves: I brought my notebook and pen to write all about my ungodly wait, my "certainality" of catching something along the lines of Ebola by the ubiquitous unruly children who were NEVER taught to cover their mouths or turn their heads when they spewed out a volcano of toxicity rivaling anything any baking soda and vinegar experiment - each and EVERY time they sneezed. Their equally disaffected parents who did the same, smearing nasal drippings of their own on the same exact seats they wouldn't give up just minutes before...and minutes after. They surely weren't going to care if you caught some nasty contagiant-type crud from them, let alone their kids - that even the CDC would feel reluctant to swab wearing a hazmat suit. My daughter and I moved seats twice.

So, pen in hand, I started writing, confident this was still going to take the better part of the afternoon...even thought I had already printed and filled out their handy online forms the night before.

And, just as always, people's number were called who never responded...people walked in and leaned against the counter and walls for lack of a given up chair from the seven kids who had laid stake to them but never occupied them...as any and all public places are undoubtedly a playground to them...complete with "dining facilities" on the floor. Go ahead...pick up your cracker or pacifier...it only fell on the dirtiest, nastiest germ-ridden floor since, well, since that gob of stuff you sneezed out all over Mrs. Simms and her kid when she was sitting near you just a minute ago. Never mind the sign which clearly states "No Food or Drink Allowed Inside". A person who can't decipher a Bingo-style number such as "A23" spat out by the computer when they first arrived - can't be expected to read signs that must be made for OTHER people than themselves anyway. Sigh...that's a whole other blog there.

But...imagine my delight, when in a roomful...and yes, I mean FULL of people - I only made it to the second paragraph of this lengthy story before I was called.

I proceeded to turn in my ready-at-hand paperwork and was literally "out the door" before the bottled water in my car cup holder turned that undrinkable lukewarm temperature...not unlike the reception I received from the office worker; but then again, in all fairness, I was probably the 309th person he waited on that day...and it was only 1:00 p.m.

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