Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Red Tape

While I wish all of my time off could be spent at parties, museums, shopping and cool happenings around town, my rational and responsible side refuses to let me waste away the days.  No matter how hard I try to beat down that errand-doing half of my personality, it just won't let me crack that bottle of wine at 3 in the afternoon, even though the UnPlain side of Jane knows full well that it's five o'clock somewhere. 

Since I can't get rid of this responsible former corporate citizen-self, I might as well embrace her, which is exactly what I did yesterday morning.  God only knows how many wallets ago I lost that important little document called a Social Security card.  It's probably in the hands of some bartender in Florida, a left over remnant from my college days.  Or maybe that woman who found my wallet and charged $1000 of clothes on my credit card at Sears in the Boca Raton mall is hanging onto it in case one day she gets the urge to steal my identity too.  (I know what you are thinking, but I don't even have the time or the energy to comment on the fact that she had her hands on a platnium AmEx and chose to go clothes shopping at Sears.)

The point is, wherever my social security card may be, it's not in my hands, thus I decided to use this free time of mine to go get a new one, so I can finally change my license to New York, just before I have to do it all over again when I change my last name after the wedding.  Having made one too many trips to the DMV for a replacement Driver's License after one of these wallet-losing incidents, I fully prepared myself to spend hours in line, amongst most of New York's non-English speaking population, with forms in hand only to be told after two hours of waiting that I filled out the wrong form.  

With this knowledge in hand, I packed up a book, my to do list, my Crackberry and a big bottle of water and headed off to the Social Security office, which happens to be just two blocks up the road.  The dingy elevator to the third floor office filled my head with dread at what odors and sights I was about to be exposed to for the next few hours.  Only to my surprise, I entered a room with about only 25 people in it, a pleasant security guard and an automated teller machine that after a few touch screen button pushes spit out my number in line, A199.  "Oh jeez," I thought, "I don't even want to know what number they are on."  As I took of my coat, pulled out my book and got ready to get comfortable, the half-friendly woman behind the window called out, "Number 196."  I thought I had misheard her, but she said it again.  I pulled out my ticket to double check that I wasn't holding 299, instead of 199.  But no, there it was, in plain sight, here I was at the Social Security office, an hour and a half after they opened, holding #199 and they were on #196.  The times they are a changing.

My spirits were soaring and I was looking around desperately for someone to share my excitement with when in walked who I would later learn is Steve.  He sat down next to me, pulled out his paperwork and asked me what number I was.  I nearly jumped out of my chair when I told him that I was 199, by now they were on 197.  "Wow, you must've been here a while," he said.  Nope!  Not me.  Got here 5 minutes ago!  Can you believe it!  

Steve and I carried on, he asked me for help with his forms, begged me to come clean his room later and started pulling out his best banter.  Just before they called my number, the conversation rolled around to the fact that I am getting married in two months and Steve quickly turned quiet.  It didn't matter, I had already gotten my ego boost for the day and only had to spend 10 minutes in a half-comfortable chair before I was able to set off for yesterday's shopping experiment.

Now on election day, thanks to the lack of red tape at the Social Security office, I have some restored faith in our government and am crossing my fingers for even more change to come.  I wouldn't be doing my socially-responsible self justice if I didn't urge you to get out there and vote (for change).  I also wouldn't be doing UnPlain Jane justice if I didn't tell you to get out there after you vote, grab a drink (or 10) and politic with the rest of us who hopefully made a difference today.  T and I will be doing it up at SideBar - where if you wear Red or, even better, Blue, they'll hook you up with a free beer between 7pm and 8pm.  Hope to see you there (after you hit the polls of course).

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