Friday, March 26, 2010

The “Things I don’t want to do” day.

I took a day off this week to take care of some things on my I don’t want to do list.

Days like that are full of dread that is built from  big doses of procrastination. Eventually, the dread becomes too much, and I succumb to the doing. Ugh.

Most of the time I take off to cook at home church or to visit children who live away and once a year, when we are really lucky, I take time off to go to the beach with the girls. Doesn’t look like this year will be one of those years, so I may take a trip to Raleigh during that week. I did that a few years ago and it wasn’t a half bad vacation.

Yes, I know I live in Raleigh, but anyplace looks a little different when you are viewing through vaca eyes, don’t you think? We'll see....

Okay. So back to the I don’t want to-

I went to the bank and had my taxes done because I had done them myself and wasn’t the least bit sure I had done them right. I was sad to find out, though, that I had. Sigh….

It will soon be time to renew my driver’s license and now there is a law that says your social security card and your driver’s license have to match up exactly. Well, the name on my social security card is off by one letter. My last name is commonly spelled wrong, I expect that. I guess the mistake didn't nag at me enough to fix it until the renewal reminder arrived. Oh, that procrastination......

s-o-n is the common spelling of the last few letters, but the correct spelling is s-e-n. I offer the reminder to friends, that since there are NO ‘sons’ at my house, (4 daughters), we spell it with “se” instead of “so”. Unfortunately, the social security administration isn't too interested in that explanation. I wonder if there is something terroristic in that.

I went to the social security office. After driving around for a while looking for a parking place, I finally found a niche for the cabrio and parked. I walked into a room full of strangers, plastic chairs and linoleum.. Not a welcoming environment, let me tell you.

I am not comfortable in closed places or cramped and crowded places either, so I was really working hard to make myself keep moving inside the building. A woman behind me on a walker pushed up against me until she finally got ticked off and just picked up the darn thing and walked around me. Then she placed it down and continued to scrabble at a snail’s pace again.

I felt something hovering over me and looked up to see the 7 ‘ tall security guard who really didn’t want to be there, either, looking at me. He lifted his eyebrows and looked into the room and I read that as ‘Get your ass in there, lady” so I did.

I followed the signs to the machine that decides when you get seen and saw  reason for being seen. I chose the option- Because it's on my don’t want to do list. The machine spit out a ticket with #326 on it. I looked around me, not feeling very comforted to know there were that many people lurking in chairs, nooks and crannies, and I looked for a place to sit. The only open seat was right by the ticket machine. When I sat down, a voice over the intercom graveled out, “Number 22 to the blue hallway. Number 22.” I looked down at my ticket again. Yep. 326. I was pretty sure I might have needed to take 2 days off instead of just this one.

Over the lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng minutes of my wait, and in between the announcements-("Number 32 window A") I bonded with the overworked ticket machine. ("Number 49 to the red hall") She must get tired of spitting out tickets all day. ...people poking at you , grabbing at your paper… The very paper you are offering in kindness to strangers in an effort to help them be seen. (“Number 62 to the green hall”) I watched this vicious scene  of people finger punching the screen over and over and I really felt for the weary ticket spitter equipment. (“Number 128 to window D”) Her screen was fingerprinted to death. Layer upon layers of prints – some I imagined were years old- lay on the graveyard monitor.

I started pretending no one was there except me and the ticket machine. People came up and asked me how to use it and I started plugging people’s info in for them.. I felt protective of the worn machine. Then, it happened. She ran out of tape. What to do? I looked up at the security guard and pointed to the machine. “She’s run out.”

He stared at me as if he expected me to magically create a new roll of ticket tape. I shrugged, held out my hands, clearly showing I had no such thing on my person. Security guard Goliath tromped across the room, squashing people in line along the way. People who didn’t speak-ah the English came up to the disabled machine and I shook my head then held up my index finger- the international sign for “wait”.

The security giant returned and fumbled with the machine and tape until he finally got it to fit and she soon started spitting out tickets again. What a life, I thought to myself.

Two days later, when  my number was called, I was pleasantly surprised by the woman at window 'A'. She said, “Oh, I have to get my license renewed, too and  I am so afraid of the sign test.” I was  relieved that someone else understood why that task was listed on my “don’t want to do list.”

She continued. "I don't know why that silly test is scary."
“I know why.” I said to her.

“You do? Well, what is it? I mean, I've driven a lot and I know the signs. It’s not like I don’t.”

“I think it’s because right now, as we sit here, a law has been passed that changes the color and shape of the stop sign and when I sit down later today and look into that binocular sign gadget, I won’t recognize it and I’ll fail the test and will never be permitted to drive ever again in the history of the world.”

She looked at me, then quickly began correcting my information.

I continued. “Or maybe there’s a sign out there that no one has ever seen or used, and some irate driver’s license employee decided to add it to the test just because they can.”

She nodded as if she understood exactly what I was saying.“Well, you’re all done!” she cheerfully spoke. “Off you go!!” and “Good luck!!” then she leaned over the desk and whispered , “Hey, if any of that really happens, will you come tell me because I don’t have to go til September.”

“Sure” I said. And I was off.

Two tasks down.

I made it to the DL office while the sun was still shining but when I wound my way through the line and finally made it to the desk the calling machine crapped out. The officer in charge looked at my letter of correction from social security and still told me that he needed proof of the spelling of my name.

Luckily, I had collected every certificate, card, paper and dust bunny  that looked as if it may be called for during these tasks. I laid out my life on the counter. “Here’s my birth certificate- there’s my maiden name”  My hand elegantly glided over the  letters, much like Vanna does on the game show.Then I laid out the next worn document –“Oh look! I got married! There's that knarly name change... and wait! BONUS!! Here’s the groom's birth certificate, too!!...Then a few photos to flavor the counter presentation.  "Here are the children 1,2,3,4. Aren’t they darlings?” He sighed and rubbed his hand over his balding head, probably trying to calculate the days until his retirement would rescue him from this insanity.  "Okay lady. Listen up. YOU are A. Got it?"

"A. You’re my first A since the calling machine broke so stand right over there and wait and I’ll call A-1 when it is your turn. Next….”

A little while later, He came over to me and said to no one in particular, “A -1” I straightened up with a start and walked to the next available desk. The woman at the desk was very kind and patient, or maybe, the woman was on valium. Either way, she said, "Look in here and tell me what you see." I looked into the evil sign machine and saw no surprises. The whole thing took 6 seconds.

I was so overjoyed that I really fought the urge to go back to social security window A and tell her the good news. It was a good fighting thought, but it passed pretty quickly.

Next, to de- mildew the convertible. Even though this winter has proven to be very precipitous, the cabrio hasn’t had one icicle all year hanging from its jowels. I only had to scrape the inside of the windows once, too. I thought the leaks were gone, but nay nay. I can’t seem to find the drain holes that were drilled in last year, so I haven't  kept the holes clear for draining and  apparently the water has overflowed  on occasion and with the warm weather, well, can you say Science experiment? I didn’t realize this until I had already gotten a couple of loads of leaf mulch and compost, so I contributed to the petri dish unknowingly. Lysol is my new best friend. The end.

I had moved a weekly saving -grace-and -life meeting to this day so that I could collapse and unload the tales of the day in a safe environment. Good plan. Good idea to get the hardest things over with and end with the good and gracious.

Icing on the cake was a ballgame that night. Company was swell- wind was bitter. Saw some exciting plays by a friend I’ve watched grow up in baseball. I love going to the games because they are just easy to watch. Rachel came with me, and while my friend’s dad and I were bitterly shivering through the game, she sat, relaxed and comfortable, commenting on how lovely the breeze was and how this feels like summer in Minnesota. She spent last summer in Minnesota and acclimated to the climate, apparently. It was nice to have her right  beside me in NC. She'll be off and gone again in about one minute's time.

Although the game was a refreshing end to a “don’t want to” day, we did have neighbors sitting next to us that added a sour taste to the event. I never got the nerve up to actually turn and look over there, but a man’s voice overshadowed the game announcer with a variety of comments that were pretty ludicrous.

 Lots of political fussing about this and that, of course, then he moved on to other topics. Something about homeowners’ associations and how unfair they are and who needs them and oh by the way, he’s been sited several times for merely leaving raw eggs and trash out an extra day, parking his big ass broken down Ford truck with two flats and bird crap all over it on the street in front of his neighbor’s yard instead of in his drive way and another time leaving a dead body on the curb instead of inside his property line or some such.

I mean really- can you believe that?

 After that, the conversation went to sushi, yes Sushi. Someone commented on liking the fresh fish at which he came back with the well known fact that none of the fish used in sushi is fresh. It is all frozen because that kills the parasites. What delectable conversation this man had to offer in the midst of “SteeeeeeRIKE!” and “SLIDE” and “RUN”. Totally lost my interest in sushi after that. I like making it, or used to. Think I’ll give it up for the rest of lent- this year and maybe the next 8..

 Anyway, he finished up with road kill stories. No, I’m not interested in seeing what or who is in his freezer at home, and I don’t know who the maniac talking man even is, but the way he carried on, well, it sort of felt a little Wake County School boardy. You know- rude, crude and nonsensical?

All in all, the day came and went, and so did the list. For now, anyway.


KaKi said...

LOVE this!!! I have experienced everything in this post! I am a regular at the soc.sec. office. The security guard there. Oh! Last time I was there I sat near him. He talked on his cell phone the WHOLE time, then paused to tell someone there were no cell phones allowed...he said, "well I have to have mine to talk to the police and my boss." hmmmmm. I guess his boss is interested in what he is having for dinner! :-)

Anonymous said...

Can't wait until it is my turn!!Good to see your posting. Loonygin