Bureaucracy

I really don’t like calling social security. However, it seems like every week I am on the phone, dialing that 1-800 number and enunciating my words to an exaggerated T just to get the automated lady to connect me to the correct department.

At my job, we request a lot of records: military records, medical records, vinyl records, and especially earnings records. I am the one who completes the paperwork requesting these records and sending them off to the appropriate accounts custodians.

Social security records can take up to 4 months to arrive. I requested one particular man’s records on November 1st, a check included. We’ll call him Richard Spleen. This is not his real name.

I’ve called Social Security four times after the four month records retrieval period expired. Here’s how each conversation begins.

Automated woman: You can say things, this is a voice-recognizing automated system. Please say and then spell the person’s first name

Me: Richard. R-I-C-H-A-R-D.

AW: Did you say Squidward?

Me: RICH-ARD. R-I-C-H-A-R-D.

AW: Please say and spell the last name.

Me: Spleen. S-P-L-E-E-N.

AW: Did you say cornucopia?

See what I’m getting at? Call #1: After 20 minutes or so of waiting I get to talk to a person. I explain that I sent a request for Mr. Richard Spleen’s earnings information which included the paperwork required signed by Mr. Spleen that allowed me to request such and a check for $100+ dollars.

She then told me that she cannot give me information about Mr. Spleen, and she’d have to speak with Mr. Spleen himself. Meanwhile, I have all his information… because he’s given it to me. Social security number, address, family names, phone numbers, mother’s maiden name, place and date of birth, etc.

Cranky face woman: I’m sorry ma’am but I can’t issue that information to you.

Me also getting a little cranky: I don’t want to know anything personal, I just want to know if the request has been received since it’s been four months since I sent it.

CFW: I’d need to speak with Mr. Spleen since it contains his information.

Me: I made the request. He’s given me all his information because his case cannot move forward until we have these documents. I just want to know how far along MY request is.

She hangs up. Naughty words were said on my end.

Caveat: I work at a law firm. With a bunch of guys. A week doesn’t go by without someone screaming down the hallway, “Are you F*CKING kidding me?!?!??!!!” I just sit there quietly. Then someone will come apologize to me later because I’m a girl… I don’t really get that part.

So, call #2 to Social Security. The lady says she’ll put in a request to expedite the records in order to get them to me ASAP. She says someone from the department will call me back within 3 days to let me know the records are on the way.

No one calls.

Call #3 to Social Security. Mind you, all these calls take place after the mandatory 10 minutes of arguing with the automated woman. Note: if you say, “Crap” loudly, it takes you back to the very beginning of the automated menu.

Ok, call #3. Social security’s computers were down. I told the lady that I hoped no one was being mean to her since she couldn’t help that her system was not working. She said everyone was being polite.

Fast forward to today. Call #4 to Social Security. We almost had an explosion when the lady mentioned that I couldn’t access Mr. Spleen’s information. Then we got that sorted out and she said that she’d try to get them sent within the next 30 days.

So, it’s been 6 months (almost) since I ordered Mr. Spleen’s records, and I have to wait another month to MAYBE get them. If I don’t get them within 30 days, she said to call back and make sure someone makes a call to the department.

Meanwhile, Mr. Spleen calls us EVERY. DAY. asking what we’re doing with his case. BLARGH!

Wanna know what I’m doing with your case?  I’m flushing it down the toilet and then plunging it out and then throwing it in the garbage disposal! Stop calling me Richard Spleen!

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