Talking To Big Brother

As if right on cue, the day I ran the post about stressing about my mysterious phone call from The Social Security office, I got a letter. I saw it on the table when I got home and my heart started pounding. I looked at it briefly and then had to stop. I decided to distract myself with a little treadmill and after about 5 minutes I started getting chest pains. Are you kidding me? Am I really letting this get to me?

I knew what they wanted, it's just so hard to put that much information on the form, they left 3 lines for 3 different questions. Basically I have to break up what I spend for my daughter's basic needs and what I put in savings. Then they carry the savings amount to the next year (and the next) and want to know what I've done with the past savings and the most recent accounting of it. Well I screwed up on the last form and didn't carry forward the past year's saving amount. And when you screw up on a government form, they want to know more....

I decided to call and hoped I could just get by with an explanation because it was so simple to explain but hard to put on paper. After being on hold for 20 minutes I had the misfortune of being connected with Ms. Social Security Cranky Pants.

Cranky Pants: How can I help you?
Me: Well I got this form and would like some help filling it out (meaning, can you do it for me?)
CP: What's your question?
Me: Blah blah blah, I put the wrong total on line C1 because I didn't forward the savings amount from last year and blah blah blah and I split the savings between a savings acct. and a pre-paid college fund.
CP: Sigh, so what's your question?
Me: Sweating now. Well I get confused about the previous year's savings and so do I have to forward it so they know what I've done with it?
CP: Well, yes....... they want to know what you did with it, like I'm an idiot and stole it or something.
Me: Can we just go through this on the phone or do I have to fill out the form.
CP: YESSSSS, YOU HAVE TO FILL OUT THE FORM.........like I am a bigger idiot
Me: Stammering now, OK.....I think I can figure it out, it seems pretty easy. Thank you so much for your help.
CP: Anything else?
Me: No I've got it.

I saw where I made my mistake and am kicking myself that I didn't catch it when I filled it out. It was the third year I've had to do it, and you'd think I would have the grasp of it by now. So I easily figured what I should do, but it's harder to explain what I mean when I mark 'other' along with 'savings'. I have repeatedly written and fully explained this every year but it's like no one reads it.

This is how I wished the conversation could have gone:
CP: How may I help you on this fine day Ma'am?
Me: I got this form and I would like some help filling it out.
CP: What's your question?
Me: It's not so much a question but a complaint that I have for you making forms so confusing in the first place. I admit I made a mistake but another question your offices poses to me is what I mean by 'other'. If you people would actually read what I write every year you wouldn't have to ask me. I was told by one of your agents 3 years ago that her college fund is considered savings so that's why I differentiate between regular savings and the college fund. Why do you people have to make everything so damn hard and make me spend half a day trying to figure things out just so you'll get off my back?
CP: I am so sorry Kden, it must be so awful for you. We humbly apologize for the inconvenience. What can I do to make it better?
Me: You can just write down what I tell you so I don't have to fill out this damn form.
CP: I would be so happy to do that for you, let's get this over with so you can enjoy your day.

Now see, is it that hard to be nice and accomodating? I didn't think so. They should try it more often.

Comments

The truth is kden, they never read the forms anyway. I always tell 'em I have difficulty reading and writing. I find they are keen to help if they think you are illiterate. It works for me.
I do think you mustn't get so stressed about it. Remember, if a problem can be solved it is not a problem, and if it can't be solved what is the point of worrying about it?
Happy New Year and lots of love from me.
John
bill said…
It sounds like you handled things just the right way. That's the way my wife handles, we'll fill out paperwork then when they send a written request for additional information, she calls and gets things done. Good for you. Happy New Year.
Mr. Shife said…
Sorry you had to go through all that, and now I hope it is all done so you can have some fun. And I thoroughly enjoyed your fantasy conversation. I have a lot of those conversations in my head when I am dealing with so-called civil servants. Have a great weekend, and Happy New Year.
Grumpy said…
I've reached the point where I realized that if I act old and confused, people are more than happy to help me. You're too young to pull that off.

The sad part is that we are paying the salary of the person abusing us on the phone.
kden said…
I tried to act as confused as I could but she wasn't buying it. Ever since hubby has been on SS, we have always dealt with nice helpful people. This is the first time we have had to deal with someone who is crabby and demeaning. So I filled out the form with the corrected numbers and tried to answer their questions with some points underlined, ones they should have already known.

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