Social Insecurity

Do you have any weapons?

She asks me in a matter-of-fact way, as if I would say, well, yes, there’s an AK-47 tucked into my waistband. Is that a problem?

But we are in a hurry, so I just give a simple “No.”

Does this technique really work? Will a would-be terrorist say “Damn, you caught me” and leave? I ponder the futility of it all as we wait.

We are on an outing to the Social Security office in downtown Phoenix to obtain Social Security cards. Not having sought employment in 35 years or so I was surprised when I dug mine out. It’s on a plain piece of paper and made with what I think they used to call “typewriters.” It’s too primitive to be seen as a forgery, I suppose, but Mo needs to get a card and since I’m here anyhow I decide to go for an upgrade. Doesn’t cost anything.

The office is not as dreary as I had anticipated. We agree it’s actually a step up from the Workplace Connection office we visited earlier in the week. There, people wandered aimlessly while an armed guard kept watch. Here, people wander aimlessly while an armed guard keeps watch. OK, maybe it’s not that much different. But there’s a 1-year-old kid leading her mom on a frantic chase around the room, so at least it’s more entertaining.

When you enter, you take a number. You push 1 for English, 2 for Spanish. On top is a button marked 0, followed by “Do not push.” I assume this is some sort of test to make certain you are worthy of a card, so I resist the temptation. Man. I really want to know what happens when you push 0.

Eventually E58 is called and it’s my turn. For a moment it feels like I’m playing Bingo and just won. I bask in the moment. That moment fades quickly.

The woman helping me is quite impressed by my antique card. She keeps staring at it and telling me I should save it. She asks why I’ve never gotten another one and I explain that I’ve pretty much worked at the same place my entire life.

Which of course leads to me same blah blah Tribune story blah blah. She says her sister-in-law just got laid off from the paper that used to be our rival after 29 years there. The two of them had worked in advertising there but she moved to this fed job 15 years ago. In hindsight, a brilliant move. You can’t really hand out Social Security cards from India. At least not yet. We commiserate on the sad state of newspapers and the world and the jobless rate.

Then out of nowhere she says “Do you swear that the information you have told me is true under the penalty of perjury?” I panic, knowing that I had rounded up my years at the Trib from 24 to 25 (can I really be put in prison for that?), before realizing she is just referring to the Social Security card information.

Yes, I bravely reply. We walk out past the guard asking entrants if they have any explosive devices attached to their bodies.

It’s a sunny day in the big city. We still don’t have much hope.

But we have Social Security cards …

About gary

no sock monkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.
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8 Responses to Social Insecurity

  1. gdionelli says:

    Did you get to keep the antique? I have one of those too – I’d hate to relinquish it.

    • yeah, i still have it. (in a glimpse of just how stupid I am I almost posted a photo of it before realizing that maybe putting one’s Social Security card on the Internet is not the world’s greatest idea.)

  2. CeCe says:

    When I was a kid, my family got Social Security money every month because my dad had died. One year on my birthday, Social Security sent my mom a letter saying the payments were being reduced because her daughter had died. It took months, and my mom taking me to one federal office after another to present the living me in person, before they finally accepted that I was alive and some clerk somewhere had just hit the wrong button when processing our records.
    So least you’re not “dead.”

  3. sara says:

    Could you apply for a virtual job with a virtual paper?
    I think you would be awesome at the Onion!!!
    Just wanted you to know my running partner LOVES the MO art. The cafe does great work. The image isn’t all smelly plastic but a nice soft silk screen. I was able to rock 50 mins tonight. Maybe the cat has magical powers.
    Don’t know if you are any closer to the puppy but if you have any more images/offerings I will sashay back over.
    And I love your music recommendations. Do you ever listen to Buddy and Julie Miller, Pierce Pettis?
    They are my all time favorites and I think you may enjoy their sounds/lyrics.

  4. sara says:

    He just produced Patti’s latest album.
    Emmylou, Shawn, Patti and Buddy have been doing tours the past couple years called 3 girls and their Buddy.
    An amazing musician–a musician’s musician.
    And Pierce and Shawn Colvin used to hang out in writing circles in NY I believe back in the day.
    Love all their music.
    I’m not a 100% but am determined to be on the mends.
    Hope the trip to the social for the proclaimed “anti-social” (as in introvert) wasn’t too draining.

  5. docturkey says:

    Your story motivated SeniorRunner to rummage through his card pile and, lo and behold, there was the original card issued in the mid ’50s! Like its owner, it has some wrinkles and discolorations, but is in remarkably good condition. Hmm… Wonder what it would bring on Ebay?

  6. Jill says:

    I’d like to bid on SR’s SS card, he knows how to do the Bangle hand in the air finish perfectly…it’s gotta be worth millions!

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