ARTICLE, BY JEFFREY A. FRIEDBERG
Today I phoned Social Security on my iPhone 7. After listening to the mandatory two messages—one in English and one in Spanish—I learned there would be a two-hour wait before I could even talk to anybody.
I wondered why they didn’t also say that in Polish, German, Amish, Hindi, Swahili, Hebrew, urban slang, and all like that. I speak French but they didn’t say it in French either.
My phone seemed low on charge, but I couldn’t recharge it, because I was jacked into the USB port on headphones, because I’m almost deaf. This meant I couldn’t use the phone at the same time as charging it.
But I was not gonna sit there on hold for two hours, anyway. I mean, like, I wasn’t prepping, baking pemmican, sighting in rifles, or drinking beer or anything, so there was nothing to do while I waited on hold.
Well, I ended up making an expeditionary journey to the local Social Security office, itself. It was 18 miles away, out in the wilds of New Mexico. I figured going there had to be faster and more interesting than being on hold for two hours. Even on my expensive iPhone 7, which the salesperson had insisted I would “really, really, like, really need out in the real world.”
In case the Social Securities Administration had a detector set up out there, I made sure I was not radioactive or whatever. The navigator in my vehicle had no idea where this place was, so I used Google Maps, on my iPhone 7, but made sure there were no phone-less, or masked Millennials around.
I snacked in the car as I traveled, in order to avoid public eateries where I might get yelled at. As I drove along, I was also able to check how I was doing on the Love Site. The usual round of very ugly, very old, delusional Liberals were still shunning me and my Conservative Profile, but I like it that way. I can’t get a date in New Mexico, but—hey—who would want to date one of these liberal babes anyway?
Anyway, I get to the Social Securities building and park in a totally filled up lot. I walk into this lobby, and it looks like a hospital ER. It’s seating about 100 people, most of whom are speaking Spanish to each other or their phones.
A lot of them are using orthopedic devices, wheel chairs, walkers, canes, and other medical devices. (I will later see some of them in the parking lot, packing away their medical aids, walking around as if healed at Lourdes, and so on.)
Standing there, in that Social Securities lobby, which is submerged in oceans of dazzling information from two, plasma wide-screens, I cannot imagine how civilians penetrate the inscrutable veil. And yet they all seem to know their way around the ropes. They all look comfortable as hell with it.
One of them shows me how to check in.
I input my “411” personal data to a terminal and a machine prints out a ticket with my info-to-be-called. I sit down and wait for the ominous, public pronouncement, as voices on speakers call out numbers—like a boardwalk Bingo game in the 1950s,
“A124…windowww number 9! That’s Aaaa124rrr, windowwwww number 9!” I wait for somebody to scream, “BINGO!” But nobody does.
People are called, stand up, and walk away—vanished to unseen destinations: to their private “window.”
It’s like the fricking Twilight Zone: “Last stop—window number 9!”
So I’m sitting there about forty minutes when I finally get my Call. It booms out, garbled, staticky, andtoofast, but I somehow hear my number. I have my hearing aids jacked up way high. I rise and walk to my mystery window.
I’m walking down this long, dark hallway with shuttered windows on either side of me. I’m alone. My bootsteps almost echo.
I finally come to Window B14. My window.
It’s a small alcove set into the wall under a rounded arch. There’s a formica ledge that serves as a table top, and two chairs. There’s an actual window and on the other side is seated an exotic looking man wearing a hat. Not a cap, but a hat. He’s a small, sharp-dressed man, all angles and points.
The man tells me his name. He takes my driver license, and swears me to The Truth, on pain of “imprisonment for perjury.” I promise to be truthful. During our interview, he repeats this mantra several times, and each time I swear—forsooth, and forsworn, etc.
I suddenly realize there are additional people on his side of the window, as he queries them about me and my “case.”
I must admit, he was very thorough, and effective. And he answered all my questions, and solved all my problemos. I enjoyed my meeting with him.
He swore me to “the truth” one more time, returned my driver license, handed me me some still-warm printouts, and there I was—back on my merry way.
I must admit, the Social Securities had control of me. That is, so long as I actually wanted my Social Securities benefits.
They are trained to make me like it. And, at that moment….
…I loved Big Brother….
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