Friday, September 11, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, the SSA

So, being now unemployed, and being as how yesterday was miscarriage #5, I was more or less at a loss for what to do with myself. Pat had to take a trip to the Social Security Administration for something to do with one of his clients, and offered me a ride-along so I could have his company. I leapt at the chance.

When we walked in, it immediately reminded us of the Banco de Credito in Pacasmayo, Peru. You took a number, part of the three distinct customer numbering systems in place, and took a seat. One of the two overworked counter people punched "next" and your number came up on the overhead LED display. The semi-recumbent security guard, clearly a man of character in his late 50s or early 60s, and looking a little menacing in his blue uniform, would yell the numbers if he felt they had been sufficiently ignored after popping up on the LEDs. Yep. Banco de Credito.

After we sat down, the next thing I noticed was the crazy lady. She was an old hippie burnout wearing a thin brown cotton caftan imprinted with fish skeletons and ankhs. And she was remonstrating with the infinitely patient counter person helping her, about how her phone had been turned off SOMEhow because SOMEbody was stealing her mail and plotting against her, so please don't mail the check to the P.O. box... and what race was she? What kind of question is that? Don't you know Hawaiians should be considered Samoan (and no, she did not consider herself either of those things)? Was anything going to be done about this shameful misclassification of race? Etc., etc. In between bouts of driving the counter person crazy, she would shadowbox and argue with her invisible companions, "Caesar" over her left shoulder, "Socrates" over her right.

Clearly, she was batshit insane. Yes/no answers took on revenant qualities as she dissected their philosophical import. She paused mid-argument with Socrates, swiveled around to meet my surprised gaze, and waved. Great. My crazy-person magnet was still fully armed and operational, so to speak. I wished my brother were there; he has a crazy-person magnet too, but its polarity is reversed or something, because when we are together crazy people do not approach us. Socrates fortunately distracted her from pursuing the relationship, and the counter person met my eyes mid-eye-roll-to-heaven and returned my smile with relief.

A custodian armed with a small, apartment-style vacuum cleaner wandered out with an evident lack of hurry, the attachment under his arm. The security guard stopped him and told him that Ms. _____ was here to see him. He clearly didn't know who that was or why she'd want to see him... so he followed the security guard's gaze and pointed finger to the batshit-insane, caftan-wearing, shadow-boxing-with-Caesar woman. The custodian responded with a shuddering sigh of horror and began ineffectually poking the undersized vacuum attachment around the floor, forcing people to move their feet.

The custodian stopped at a puddle of water darkening the blue military-grade shitty carpet, having vacuumed a few square inches with seemingly totally random attention (whilst neglecting most of the carpet.) "Is this water?"

The security guard. "Yeah, I think so."

"You THINK so, or you KNOW so?"

"Yeah, I think it's water."

"You THINK so? I ain't vacuuming piss again -- it messes up the vacuum."

"Go for it, I'm pretty sure it's water."

"You're PRETTY sure? Aw, HELL naw." He wandered away from the puddle and the 95% unvacuumed carpet and started trying to pick up a paperclip outside the front door with the underpowered machine. We were done, and slipped past him into the bright day. He continued trying to vacuum the paperclip off the concrete until we had driven away.


Robert Link said...

Y'just don't see the term "batshit crazy" often enough. I love you kids.

Sorry you had such a shitty time.

Ducks said...

Heh. Especially from a trained social scientist, but on the other hand, I (try to) calls 'em as I sees 'em. And she really was, unless Caesar and Socrates were hanging out there invisible.

I enjoyed the SSA... it was picturesque. It's the rest of life that is beating me up, but I'm confident that things will improve.