As it turns out, my boarding pass for the Social Security train has been waylaid, held hostage until I meet with a real, live Social Security Administration person to prove I am indeed who I claim to be. According to Carlos in the Albuquerque office, who I spoke with after receiving a letter from the SSA, I need to take my photo ID to the appointment and then I can be on my merry way.
Why I’m one of the unlucky few (or many?) who are being required to do this is a mystery. When John retired, we applied for his benefit online without a hitch. I went through the same motions when my turn rolled around, but no. I get a letter instead, instructing me to call Carlos for the annoying news.
To top it off, the closest regional SSA office is in Silverdale, an hour’s drive. It’s a godforsaken city, to boot, a confusing concrete maze of strip shopping centers harboring every fast food joint, every big box store, every chain restaurant and chain retail store possibly on earth. One of our friends refers to it as “Silverhell.” Another dubs it “Consumerdale.” Either name is spot on.
Long ago, I set up my account on the Social Security website and have faithfully updated my password when required. Since then, the SSA has made sign-in more secure by using a two-step method: Once you enter your user name and password, the site sends a temporary numerical code to either your mobile device or email. You have ten minutes to plug in the number on the sign-in page. I’ve obediently done so every time, naively believing the process proved who I am.
I was equally compliant in my online application for benefits. Maybe that was my problem; I was being too meek. Perhaps a different approach would have garnered a more satisfactory result.
Oh, you want me to type in this information? This rule applies to me? Okay, bucko, you asked for it — I’m headed straight to Uncle Donald, and I’m not talking about the duck, if you get my gist. And believe you me, he doesn’t like to be interrupted while he’s tweeting. Or in the tanning booth. Or on the golf course. Or tweeting again. You don’t want to be the subject of one of his misspelled, nonsensical rants, correct? No, of course you don’t, so start depositing that monthly “entitlement” into my bank account pronto or, as Uncle likes to say, YOU’RE FIRED.
Probably that wouldn’t work either.
I have another theory as to why I was singled out, a creepier, Orwellian one: the iPad overheard something I said that put me under scrutiny. It’s like when John and I started discussing buying a new mattress. Ours was verging on ancient in mattress years, and during our procrastination period we often brought up the subject in passing. As in,
“We really should look for a mattress.”
“Yeah, you’re right. You want a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch or should we just reheat some leftovers?”
Not only had we not yet visited a single brick and mortar store, we hadn’t done the Google nor initiated an Amazon search when suddenly every website we viewed lit up with mattress ads.
It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. We live in a small house and during the day our iPad sits on the kitchen counter, almost always turned on, with that innocent look on its face. Listening.
I’m just crazy about the Social Security Administration, aren’t you? They are without a doubt the finest people — in the finest administration! — bar none. And you know who I especially respect and admire? Carlos. He’s a prince among men, he truly is. Heck, I’d do anything for that guy. In fact, I’m going to make a special trip to the Silverdale SSA office simply because I bet it’ll make him happy.
Plus, it will be such an honor to meet my local Social Security representative face-to-face! There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be speaking with an outstanding individual, someone who’s highly intelligent but also kind and caring. I can’t wait!