Apr 17, 2010

The errand that was neither social nor secure

On the 27th of March, as Garry was preparing to file our tax records, we discovered that Lexi didn't have a Social Security card. This was odd because I'm pretty organized, all of our legal documents are in one place, and I was certain we had filled out the forms to request a card when Lexi was born.

However, last summer, when the card should have arrived, is a nebulous blur in my mind. I had a hard time remembering to water my plants, let alone do the filing. If Lexi's card had, in fact, arrived, it was missing. And since I have caught up our filing in recent months and random papers are not lurking in any corners of my house, I knew we (meaning I) would have to request a replacement card. Without it, we couldn't claim our fourth-born on our taxes, and we really wanted to do this.

So, on the 29th of March, Garry brought home a large bag from Albertson's that was bursting with all manner of snack foods interesting to a two-year-old. He aimed to arm me with food, my only weapon (besides the appropriate paperwork) when battling the tomb of the Social Security office.

On the 30th of March, we arrived at the Social Security office at 9:05 a.m., prepared to spend the day waiting to do business. There were already 27 people ahead of me in line at 9:05 a.m. (five minutes after the doors opened for the day). When I burst on to the scene with a giant, bright red stroller housing two tow-heads, the average age in the room plummeted by 30 years. We were big and loud and hungry, and we were there to stay.

I was prepared for Armageddon, a.k.a. a long outing with my children. I had visions of the DMV adventure of 2009 (also prompted by insufficient paperwork at tax time). I had the Social Security horror stories of family and friends circulating in my brain. I knew it would be bad. Very bad.

But, as it turned out, the stroller-bound kids and I simply did laps around the office for 45 minutes before it was our turn. Gavin munched away the whole time and was reasonably quiet. Lexi didn't object to the confinement. I couldn't believe my good fortune.

When I finally got to the counter, I submitted the appropriate paperwork. Only it wasn't the appropriate paperwork. I hadn't read the teeny tiny print about birth certificates being inadequate proof of life for an infant. I needed certified medical records to prove that Lexi had lived beyond birth. The clerk could give me Lexi's number, but if I wanted a card, I had to come back.


Even though the outing hadn't been as bad as expected, it had taken most of the morning to execute. There was a 10-mile commute involved, and the timing required skipping Lexi's nap. It took two weeks for me to summon the energy to attempt the feat again.

On the 13th of April, I returned to the Social Security office. We arrived at 9:15 a.m. I took my number (exactly the same as last time) and started doing laps. This time the wait was 30 minutes, and this time I had the right paperwork.

Lexi's card is in the mail.

And I lived to tell about it.
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