All right, I understand that very few readers of the Dallas Observer are worried about Social Security yet, but you all have to have Social Security cards. Right? That’s all I’m talking about. Just the card.
And, yes, it’s more than that. I’m a lifelong libtard. I am pro-government. I enjoyed what I thought was a wonderful experience with a Dallas Social Security office. I wanted to draw all kinds of grand conclusions about what a great thing the federal government is. In fact I haven’t given up on that yet. But I confess I am starting to have strong second thoughts about it.
Here are the facts. Last February I was painting a dock on White Rock Lake. Do you mind if we don’t go into a whole huge back-story on that? I was painting a dock, OK?
I had to sort of squiggle around on my butt to reach up under something so I could paint it. When I squiggled back out from under, I realized that I had squiggled my wallet right out of my hip pocket and into the lake.
I had earphones on, so I didn’t hear the kerplunk. There was a hundred dollar bill in there because of the damned ATM. I was not happy, as you may well imagine. I almost threw the earphones into the lake, because it was their fault.
I tried a variety of recovery techniques, none of which produced anything but mud. The water would have been about up to my chin, and it was way too cold, so I didn’t dive in. Thought about it, but it was a no-go. Some weeks passed. I had to do all that stuff about the credit cards and go apply for a new driver’s license and so on. The very best experience I had, however, was going to the Social Security office on the east side Central Expressway just south of Royal Lane.
It’s a vast, modern place, spit-polish tidy, with multiple waiting halls, all of which were crowded already but quiet and orderly when I arrived at about 10 a.m. A computer terminal allowed me to check in, and then while I sat I could see that the staff was working its way through the wait-list really fast.
When it was my turn, I went to a window where a cordial guy listened patiently to my story about losing my card in White Rock Lake, had me fill out a form and told me to expect the card within a week or so.
I remember thinking, “The private sector is never this efficient.” On the way home I was humming “Happy Days Are Here Again,” thinking about FDR signing the Social Security Act in 1935 and how well it had all turned out.
But as you may have surmised by now if you are still with me, my card did not arrive in a week or so. It has now been more than a half year, and I am still without a card.
I have tried my best to work the problem from my end. Below, I offer copies of my correspondence to prove that I haven’t just been sitting around about it. These are not made-up. I really wrote and mailed them.
In February, I sent the Dallas Social Security Office this letter, from which I have redacted personal information.
It has been almost a month since I applied for a replacement Social Security card (please see enclosure). I have not yet received it. Would you please check to see if my card is still in the process of being delivered?
I received no reply. I still have received no reply to that inquiry.
On March 16 I sent the following letter to the Department of Complaints/Ombudsman at Social Security headquarters in Baltimore:
It has now been two months since I applied for a replacement Social Security card at the Social Security field office at 10824 N. Central Expressway, Dallas, TX 75231-9816. Please see the attached correspondence in which I sought information about my card a little over a month ago.
I have not received a replacement card, and the Social Security field office has not granted me the favor of a response to my earlier inquiry.
Can you help me with this issue? My contact information is below.
I have never received a response to that letter, either.
On July 6, I sent the following letter (with some redactions):
Matt Garcia, District Director:
Congressman Pete Sessions
Park Central VII 12750 Merit Drive, Suite 1434
Dear Mr. Garcia:
Surely this is an issue too small to take to a congressman, but I seem to be at a dead-end. I dropped my wallet in White Rock Lake while painting a dock last fall and lost my Social Security card. Don't ask me why it was in my wallet. Habit.
Attached please find two inquiries I have sent to Social Security pleading with them to send me my replacement card, which I applied for at the Central Expressway Social Security Center in early January of this year. I never have received a single response from them, nor have I received a card.
At this point, I am unsure which I should ask the Congressman to help me with: getting Social Security to send me a replacement card or helping me retrieve my wallet from the bottom of White Rock Lake. Maybe the lake would be easier.
Whatever you can do or suggest will be greatly appreciated and thank you for your time.
I have received no response to that letter, either, in spite of the jocularity, which was insincere. So yesterday I mailed off the following letter, redacted here for personal information. Instead of the forced jocularity, in this one I tried for a tone of pathetic simple-minded geezerdom.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Last January I was painting a dock on White Rock Lake, and my wallet fell in the water. I couldn’t get it. The water was too cold.
I lost my Social Security card. I know now I shouldn’t have carried it in my wallet. My wife told me. I am sorry I did that.
I went to the Social Security office on Central Expressway, and they told me they would send me a card in a week or so. After a month, I wrote and asked where my card was. They never answered.
At the end of March I wrote to the Social Security Ombudsman in Baltimore and asked if they could help me get my card back. They never answered.
A month ago I wrote to Matt Garcia, district director for congressman Pete Sessions and asked if he could help me get a card. He never answered.
I have not written to my United States senators for help, because they are Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and I am afraid of them.
President Obama, I truly hate bothering you with this, because I am keenly aware of the heavy burdens you bear for our nation. But I just don’t know where else to go. A friend of mine says I should write to the Pope, but I am not Catholic. Do you think Ross Perot Jr. could help me?
If you can do anything at all for me, I will be greatly appreciative, Mr. President. Sorry for the long letter. Attached please find copies of my earlier correspondence.
First of all, I want my damned replacement card. But as I said before, there is more to this than that. Living as I do in Texas, embattled by a horde of anti-federal Tea Partyistas, I want to believe in my national government, and I do, still fervently. On the other hand, one tends to judge an organization on the small things, the unseen details that favor only the average customer.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
One strange outcome or corollary to all this is that I have adopted a new personal hero — 61-year-old postman Doug Hughes of Ruskin, Florida, who landed a gyroplane on the grounds of the capitol in Washington last April 15 to deliver 535 letters to all members of the Congress.
Hughes told NPR last May: “91 percent of Americans know that Congress isn't working for them, that they're responding to special interests and lobbyists. Many people don't know that almost half the Congress, when they retire, goes to work as lobbyists, oftentimes making 14 times what they made while they were in Congress as special advisers and lobbyists, and none of them is worth $2 million a year. They're getting paid off for voting the way the lobbyist firm that they got hired to wanted them to vote while they were in office. Anybody who looks at this can see that it's bribery made legal by a delayed payment.”
Hughes said when he is released from his electronic ankle monitor, he will devote the rest of his life to “the cause of getting a Congress, not more liberal, not more conservative, but a Congress that is working for the people.”
Please, Mr. Hughes, if you ever see this article, would you consider mentioning my replacement Social Security card to them? You may be my best and only hope.