Tuesday, March 25, 2008

02 Rant Social Security

In another attempt to acquire a social security number for Ada, I decide to venture to the social security office to re-submit the paperwork for overnight processing. After learning about a week ago that there was no record of the paperwork submitted from the hospital when Ada was born, and not being able to go to the social security office early due to the car being frozen to the street (see rant 1), today is the day we venture out.

Strategically, I wait until Ada has had her morning nap and is in a better mood for travel and adventure. She is fed, changed, and seems pretty happy. As with every excursion, I snuggle her into her car seat, pack the diaper bag, bundle up for the cold weather, and drag everything out to the car, through the front door, the inner vestibule door, down the four stairs, through the outer vestibule door, and out to the car which is conveniently located in front of our condo. This time, I got a little lazy and tried to assemble the car seat and stroller in our condo first and then take it out to the car by myself. After almost spilling the baby, stroller, car seat, and diaper bag down the first four stairs, I realized this really is a two person job and was happy to see two nice strangers exiting my building and willing to hold the outer door open for me as I struggled with all of my crap.

Okay. We get into the car. Not that easy of course. I first put the car seat in the back seat and lock it in place, then I stick the diaper bag and the bag with all of the paperwork next to the car seat. Then I shut the door, collapse the stroller and shove it into the trunk, all the while stabbing myself in the thigh with a random stroller wheel part which will form a nice bruise later on. But I digress.

I open the driver’s side door, and yep, she’s screaming. But I think if I get the car moving she’ll calm down. We’re on the road now and she’s doing okay. We make it about half way to the social security office on the north side of the city and she gets really upset. I can soldier on, or pull off to see what’s going on. I pull off and realize she’s hungry. So what if I just fed her before we left. I squeeze into the back seat of my blue Honda Civic and pull out the ever so handy boob. We sit for fifteen minutes as Ada enjoys a mid afternoon snack while people walking by wonder what I could possibly be doing sitting in the back seat of my car in front of Trader Joe’s. After arousing a good deal of suspicion, it’s time to continue toward our goal.

Back on the road, we’re doing well. We get to the social security office and park at a meter since the lot is full. I think an hour will do. How long could this take, really? I got to the trunk, undo the stroller, get the car seat out, grab the diaper bag, struggle with my jacket since I’ve worn too many layers and it is hotter than I expected, and dig deep to find quarters for the meter. It’s one in the afternoon. I have the meter until two. Great.

We get into the social security office, take a number and start waiting. And waiting. We wait for an hour and fifteen minutes to be exact. Ada fusses a bit but overall is doing great. She sleeps while I hold her and do some leisure reading. Final they call out A162. (The woman with A160 was complaining that they wouldn’t call her number and once they finally did, she had fallen asleep in the front row of the waiting area and never woke up when they did call it, so she got skipped.)

Our number was up. I repack Ada into her car seat in the stroller and approach the window with all of my paperwork completed and in order. I hand it to the woman behind the counter who takes her time reviewing it. I explain that the information has already been submitted but that was around December 20, 2007 and I still haven’t received my number even though they said I should expect it in six to eight weeks. This is week eleven and my tax accountant said it’s worth $1,000 for me to get the number and file it with my taxes so I’m a bit anxious to receive her number. The woman behind the counter smirks at me and says, “Her number was issued three days ago. Here it is. Her Social Security Card should be in the mail and you should see it in about a week.”

My jaw drops. The steam whistles from my ears straight out of a cartoon. “Are you serious? I just sat her for an hour and fifteen minutes so you could tell me the number is already issued and I’m wasting my time?” I quickly gathered my things, took a deep cleansing breath, packed up the kid and headed for the door, all the while hoping that I didn’t have a ticket on my car.

I get to the car, ticket free thank goodness. Repack all my crap and the baby into the car and we’re on our way to errand number two. We get about five blocks away and Ada starts screaming. I pull over, go to the back seat and realize this time she is dirty. So I change her on my lap in the very cramped back seat of my blue Honda Civic. Mind you, the car seat is in the middle of the back seat so I am only working with a third of the seat and my feet are sharing space with the diaper bag. And as I am changing her, she pees. Happens every time. Once she’s all cleaned up and re-diapered, I place her back into the car seat and she starts screaming again. Let’s try the boob. I feed her again as the sun beats down on us in the already hot car as sweat starts collecting on the center of my back. After a fifteen minute feeding session, we’re on our way to errand number two, again.

Traffic on Lincoln Avenue is a nightmare. Stop and go, slow, slow, slow. I’m cursing every driver in front of me since, even though I just changed and fed the baby, she’s still not happy. Twenty minutes later, we’re in front of Ada’s new daycare ready to drop off her admission paperwork. There is no street parking so I double park and throw on my hazards. I remove Ada from the car seat thinking it will be easier not to lug that thing around and half-heartedly wrap her in my coat as I approach the daycare. Fortunately for the safety of the kids, this place is like Fort Knox. Unfortunately for me, I can’t contact anyone inside or find anywhere to leave the paperwork that is secure. After three attempts at the buzzer and the back door, I give up and we take a failing grade for errand number two.

Back into the car for errand number three. We’re heading to the doctor’s office to drop off a form they need to fill out for day care regarding Ada’s immunizations. Halfway to the doctor’s office, Ada starts hollering again. So I start hollering back and cursing more drivers to get out of my way and overall just start having my own personal little nervous breakdown. The phone rings. It’s my husband. He makes the mistake of asking me how I’m doing. I explain that I’m having a nervous breakdown, now isn’t a good time to talk and I’ll see him at home later. He wishes me luck and I hang up. We arrive at the doctor’s office. Again, I move to the back seat of the blue Honda Civic to calm Ada again. This time I again try to feed her. She’s had a cold this week and the boob seems to be the best way to calm and comfort her. Poor little thing. After ten minutes, she’s back to a more peaceful state. I relatch the buckles of her car seat and drag her and the paperwork into the doctor’s office. I drop it off at the reception desk and head back out to the car. We get settled in and set off for home. As we pull out of the parking lot, Ada starts in with the screaming again. I take a few more cleansing breaths and drive home as quickly as possible without doing anything too illegal. We finally get home, unload most of our crap as I’ve decided to leave the stroller in the trunk for the night, drag it all through the outer and inner vestibule doors and through the front door into the peaceful place we call home.

Morals of the story: Government systems are to be avoided at all costs, traffic in the city sucks, and don’t try to run errands with a small child recovering from a cold as she is guaranteed to scream the whole time.


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