Friday, November 14, 2008
A Day with Big Brother
Anxiety impatience and boredom fuel the silent rage within my mind as I wait for my turn. It has been one and a half hours since I walked into the Social Insecurity Office on the third floor of an office building in the heart of down town Salem. The cage of my boredom is amazingly out of place in comparison to the beautiful bright office building lobby that I walked through early in the morning. As I stepped through the threshold of this Government office and I take a random number from a red contraption that should belong in a super market deli, I felt as though I was transported to a third world holding cell. I was greeted at the door by a police officer who checked me for weapons. The genius who decorated this room was obviously designed challenged and unable to connect to his inner feng shui. My smiling disposition was instantly extinguished by the blank stares of the multitudes that pitied my poor decision to join their ranks. Within moments my heart, mind, and attitude would be one with theirs. The flaw in my logic punished my self esteem with the mantra of my lack of intelligence. I ignorantly assumed that replacing a simple social security card would be a simple task for the most powerful nation on the face of the planet. I would simply walk in, confess my sin of losing my card and walk out minutes later with a piece of paper that contained my birth name and the one number that gave me purpose and meaning to my nation. I found a seat in the middle of the room and I realized that I had just become the peanut butter in a huge P and J bitterness sandwich. The seats were arranged as if we all sat on a huge airplane. Everyone faced to the front of the room eyes fixed to the back of some unknown person who filled the seat in front of us. Children dispersed throughout the room cried in protest to being subjected to an unbearable act of endurance and I wanted to join them. Their poor parents fail at attempts to comfort their protest and bring awkward silence to us grumbling adults. I came into this wilderness unprepared and unaware. Nothing to read, nothing to listen to, nothing to watch and nothing to do. To my right was the object of all our objectives, four windows and an audience with a government employee with a bad attitude. Directly in front of us was a score board that read “Now Serving Number”. Below the scoreboard displayed four columns which displayed our ticket numbers. Each ticket started with one of four letters. There was the A’s, D’s. S’s and my number group, the W’s.
These numbers were a contributing factor to much of my anxiety. Einstein himself wouldn’t be able to make any sense to their random sequence. Despite the fact they rarely changed, each letter group was clicked off in a bizarre order. The A’s, D’s S’s and W’s didn’t flow in an alphabetic or numeric order. It was impossible to figure out the duration of your prison sentence. The second reason was that the letter system caused letter envy. I strangely found myself loathing the A’s, D’s, and S’s. Their letters sequence was obviously favored by the United States Government. I felt disenfranchised and the cruel victim of letter prejudice. My self righteous sense of equality and fairness was being violated with every random sequence letter group that was “now being served”. The thing that got under my nerves faster then a splinter under a fingernail was the fact that the Social Security Office wasn’t competent enough to keep all of their service windows open. Two out of the four windows remained closed during my time in purgatory. When one opened, another would close. I estimate that their was over one hundred people waiting in that small room and the best the Government could offer was 50% of their production capacity. Anyone wishing for the Government to nationalize health care needs to spend some time in the Social Security Office. If the Social Security Office had to compete with private business they would be bankrupt in a week. Customer service is a foreign concept. I don’t mean to criticize the employees who have the difficult challenge of working in these offices. I think I would be jaded and hardened by dealing with people like me who have been marinating and incubating in their impatient rage for long periods of time. Two and half hours after I entered the door I was awarded my hard earned turn with Big Brother. Two minutes later I was finished. “I deserved more then two minutes” I thought as I passed the Security Guard. I should have asked for more then just a social security card. I should have asked to give the Social Security Office some good advice.
So if Big Brother is listening (and I know you are) here are some suggestions that will improve your image, will increase your effectiveness and productivity. Number one, people have value and worth. Their time is just as important as yours. Treat people with respect and dignity. Instead of a Security Guard replace him with a Help Desk person who loves serving people. The Help Desk can help people fill out forms so that Big Brother can process things faster. Open up a small coffee shop and news stand. You will make a lot of money. Make a room for children and their parents. Everyone will thank you. Tell people often how long of wait they can expect. Give them a beeper so they can walk around outside. Open all of your windows, remove the glass and place the counter in a space where the whole room can’t hear everyone’s business. People value their privacy, please respect it. Invite an Interior Decorator to arrange the room in an astatically friendly feng shui way.
Please let me know if you have any other helpful advise (be good now) for our Government.