Wednesday, March 08, 2006

If the third time isn't a charm, then I'm going to get rude and some people aren't going to like me very much*

We are pursuing the temporary tax ID number for Bao. I don't know if this will work b/c there is a spot on the form where we have to fill out the placement agency. Technically, this is the China Center for Adoption Affairs. But I don't think that is what the IRS is looking for. And who even knows if we will get the number in time to do our taxes.

I called our adoption agency to ask which forms served as what, so I'd know what to send with our application for Bao's temporary tax number. I asked a few other questions and happened to mention that Bao's US Certificate of Citizenship was processed in her Chinese name. "Odd," said the woman from the agency, "Lin really tries to get the English names on all of those forms."

Ah, yes, thought I, but LIN wasn't the one who was with us when we adopted Bao. It was Li.

I verbalized that thought. "Oh," says agency woman. "Yeah, Li doesn't know all of those little tricks yet."

So I gathered.

ANYWAY... I know which forms to send to the IRS now.

But just as a CRAZY why-not-waste-a-little-more-time-doing-something-useless kind of thought, I figured I might try to call our local Social Security office to see
a) if I could get anything other than a busy signal.
b) if I could talk to someone who could check on the status of the SSN.

Well, surprisingly, the phone rang when I called. Then I listened to every option there was, chose the best one, even though it didn't describe quite what I needed, and listened as I was told to speak my name and address into the system. (This is not what I want, thought I... because giving them my name and address will be useless.) It didn't matter. Because as soon as the system clicked me over to the place where I was supposed to leave my name and address, a voice came on saying "there are no questions in this mailbox" and proceeded to hang up on me.

Thank you ever so much.

But, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I CALLED BACK, to try a different option. I thought maybe I could talk to an actual person if I stayed on the line, as directed for people who do not have a touch-tone phone.

That was fun. Because when you stay on the line, the only thing that happens is that the whole message starts playing over again... "Hello, thank you for calling Social Security..." uh, so am I on hold or am I just stuck in the Groundhog Day-like nightmare of the Social Security telephone system.

So, nix the local office. Call the 800 number and see if there is someone there who can tell me what I should do.

She listened to me explain about my first and second trips to the SS office, and then asked me (ME!) why they haven't processed a card for Bao.

I could see this was not going to get me anywhere.

She then took Bao's information (Chinese name, date of birth, citizenship status,) then waited for a moment (as if she was letting her computer think) and pronounced: "You need to go to the Social Security office."

"Again?" I said.

"Yes. You need to speak to a manager."

"How do I do that?"

"Tell the person at the desk that you want to speak to a manager in charge of Social Security cards. Or you can ask for a second manager (????) or you can ask for the office manager."

"Okay," I mutter, totally confused. "And tell them what?"

"Bring all of your forms and tell them you filed an application three months ago and you want to know the status of it."

"You have no record of my daughter's application in your computer, do you?"

"I can't give you that information."

"You can't give me information about the status of a card for my own daughter?"

"No."

"So I need to go into the office again?"

"Yes."

(Isn't this little conversation enthralling?)

So, I (stupidly) ask, "Is it even possible at this point for me to get a card in time to do my taxes?"

"Well, sure, you've got a month."

(Can you GUESS what I am thinking at this point?)

Then I say a few other things, and she reiterates that I need to speak to a manager, and that I "SHOULD HAVE" asked to speak to one before.

"I'm sorry," I said (when I should have just shut up) "But I don't think your average person knows that they can ask for a manger at the Social Security office."

And, um, shouldn't the clerk have known that maybe someone of authority should be summoned when I went in the second time? (I did not say that part to the woman on the phone.)

So, Social Security, here I come. I'll be asking for a manager. I'll try to be nice, but I swear, if you flippantly tell me ONE MORE TIME, that I can file for an extension or amend my taxes, I AM JUMPING THE COUNTER. And I hope you like the taste of adoption decree, because I am going to make you EAT IT!

* Do I need to say that I am joking?

5 Comments:

Blogger Heather said...

I ALWAYS ask for the manager... no matter where! And if that person can't help you, ask for their manager (or a direct phone number).

Wed Mar 08, 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Addie said...

I have nothing to say but boy that really, really stinks! Government customer service...gotta love it! (or not)

Wed Mar 08, 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous mom a said...

If you don't get any satisfaction this time, tell them you are going to tell your mommy.

Thu Mar 09, 12:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Cup-a-Joe said...

When Mrs. Cup-a-Joe (formerly Ms. Cup-a-Tea) and I got married, she decided to take her maiden name and make it her middle name.
At this time we were part of a book discussion group and we were reading Kafka's The Castle.
As Mrs. Cup-a-Joe was wandering from government office to government office filling out forms, being told that these were the wrong forms, etc. etc. etc. she was reading a book about frustration, bureaucracy, and accomplishing nothing. At the end of the process, in the Social Security office no less, she was informed that the whole process (including the $80 fee) was unnecessary. All she had to was have the social security office print her a new card with the new name on it...
She said it really helped her understand what Kafka was driving at;-)

By the way, Bureaucracy means rule by the desk, not by the person at the desk. That explains a lot.

Thu Mar 09, 06:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Government bureaucracy is precisely the reason Tim and I traveled to New Zealand instead of to Africa with the peace corps. Your experience with the SSN sounds very similar to out application process with the peace corps..."what do you mean you don't have my application??? You had it one week ago when you accepted me..."

Angel

Thu Mar 16, 05:20:00 PM  

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