Thursday, December 2, 2010

Social Security Mutants

FREEDOM! I scream the words of William Wallace as I pull out of the Econo-lodge parking lot. Good riddance you bastards.  I look at the scoreboard in my head and it reads:

Wagner 1 - Econo-lodge 0

You see, in the end I pulled a quick one on them and am calling it a small victory. It's pathetic and sad but something which takes the sting out of paying nearly seven hundred dollars to stay there. I dropped one of my room keys down the elevator shaft at work yesterday and only returned one as I checked out.

Suck on that Econo-lodge!

It's eight in the morning as I pull across the street and get a coffee before heading to West L.A. and my first goverment office to apply for a social security number. On arrival, I find parking and enter the large building which houses a bank and I head to the third floor. As I walk through the doors and into the waiting area outside the social security office I am greeted by a sight I will remember for ever and the inscription on the Statue of Liberty runs through my head:

Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses...

Looking up at me like a newly uncovered gang of stowaway Tamils hidding in a shipping container is an assorted cast of what Lady Liberty was talking about and they all want a damn social security number. It's frickin' twenty after eight and I'm sixth in line. I take my place in line and pretend to not listen to the banter of those around me. Here's a quick run down of the cast:

Pepe The Texan: The self-proclaimed and appointed leader of the group. Pepe assigns each person a number as they walk through the door and then proceeds to tell each in turn who is before and after them. Pepe is on disability which is evidenced by the large sole on his left shoe. He is on disability due to a bad car crash where he drove his car directly into a power poll, wrapping it around it. His claim is that not wearing a seat belt saved his life.Sure it did Pepe. It saved your life and made it much easier for you to run in circles. Pepe is pissed off at the government for not giving him his disability cheque on time before the Thanksgiving holiday and therefore he wound up sleeping in his truck.

Henta the Persian: Henta is a larger lady there with her silent husband who has obviously just given up speaking altogether because of the futility of trying to get word into any conversation with his chatty wife. Henta complains to everyone around her about how cold it is in the waiting room (23 degrees) and how her sore hip bothers her. "I take medicine still hurt" states a moaning Henta. She and the neighbour to her left talk about learning English.

Papita: Papita made the crucial mistake of entertaining the complaints of Henta but seems to rather enjoy being in the presence of another women and one which speaks poorer English than she does. Papita has been studying English after hours for three years and still speaks like Manuel from Fawlty Towers.

Stinkatron: Stinkatron enters nearly last of the core group of crazy people. She is crazy. She is unwashed and she smells like a football team after a hard mid-summer practice. She keeps asking everyone where she can get number. Pepe tells her the numbers are inside and that the doors don't open till nine. Stinkatron doesn't get it and looks worried.

Bruce: The only normal person. Bruce is a Californian and has to be there for some benign reason but is unfortunately trapped in the tractor beam of bat-shit crazy and coked out Pepe. "Sure, sure... yeah that sounds tough." says Bruce in the hopes of assuaging Pepe. Damn it Bruce, don't you know the "I got a call" trick. Open your phone and ignore that mental guy.

More and more people push through the door as it gets closer to nine. There's a serious crowd now. I'm starting to fear that the order Pepe has set forth will simply dissolve the second those doors open and a mad rush ensuses. The doors open and a security guard with a gun comes out and announces the expected conduct when we enter. He states that there is no food or drink allowed on the premises. Oh, and in case we have any weapons we should leave them outside as well.

Pepe is telling people that if you need to fill out a form they're on the right as you enter the door and that you should fill one out first and then take a number. He is either totally stupid or incredibly crafty. I head to the number line, take on (number 3) and then hurriedly fill out my form. As I near completion my number is called and I go to the window. The elegant older black lady who must have been a real looker in her day and who's coworkers refer to as, Miss Marie processes my request. She also tells me that the Department of Homeland Security has fouled up my visa and list my first name as Gordon Kelsey with no middle name. She puts in the request to have it changed and informs me that it will take ten to fourteen days to have my social security number and card sent to me at Sony's address.

I'm happy to see the government is as incompetent south of the border as it is north.

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