I’m not ignoring you…

29 January 2007

…just putting this blog off some for the sake of Wisebread.  Well…sort of.  That, and I don’t have much to say that seems bloggable.

Today was marked by a serious presence of waiting.  Lines…and waiting.  You gotta love our government.

You see, I visited the Social Security office today, so as I could get my name changed and not be Sarah Ple-Winfrey anymore.  The problem with the Social Security office, as far as I could tell, was that they really just don’t care about the people they serve.  They call numbers out of order.  They make elderly people who can barely walk get up, present some information, sit down, and get up again.  They make some poor guy who adoped a baby come back and forth three times trying to get a Social Security card for his baby.  They make people go in and out, back and forth, and can’t just help them quickly.  They have some of the world’s most uncomfortable chairs.
But I digress…

So, I went to the Social Security office.  I got there, took my number, and noticed that there were a heck of a lot of people sitting around.  Way more than that 10 or 15 in front of me.  I also noticed that only 3 of the 7 windows at the front of the room were open.  Slowly, as I listend to numbers called, I realized that there was an “A” line, of people needing SS cards, and a “B” line, or people needing to check their benefits.  Two of the three open windows were for the B’s.  Me?  I was an A.

As I began to pay more attention, I also realized that the one woman operating an A window had some sort of serious disability.  She would call out numbers, but was almost untelligible.  The security guard at the back of the room had to repeat the numbers so we would know when to go up.  Because of this problem, she also asked her questions really loudly, so that we all knew why the people at her window were there.  When I worked with her later, I noticed that she also typed really, really slowly (and not very accurately!), hen-pecking one letter at a time.

At first, I felt bad for her.  It has to be hard getting a job with a disability like that, and it seemed pretty clear that her mind was fine though her body was disabled.  I’m all for the hiring of those with disabilities.  It does seem, however, that the assumption behind that concept is that the disabled person can do the job they are hired for, with some degree of speed and proficiency.  This lady was definitely proficient, but she was incredibly slow.  And it wasn’t just because of her disability–at one point, she told a girl, “Well, I’ll give you 10 minutes, and you can go look for X document in your car.  If you don’t come back, I’ll know you didn’t find it,” and then proceeded to do paperwork in front of all of us while still being the ONLY ‘A’ window open.

What in the WORLD?  Do you just not CARE that you have an entire office full of people who are watching you actively NOT doing your job?  Seriously.

At that point, I thought I’d be there all day.  However, she did eventually call my name, and I navigated my way through her questions, sat there for 10 minutes, corrected an error she made in typing my address, and got the piece of paper I needed.

Goodness gracious, what a horror.  I really felt for the people who had been there several times, particularly the elderly ones or the ones clearly advocating for benefits for the elderly.  Yikes!  What a sad, depressing place to have to come back to.  And the people who work there?  No wonder they’re grumpy and slow…the humanity has been leeched out of them.

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