Humility in the Social Security Office

Story Time….

The other day I went to the Social Security office to change back to my maiden name.  This was the first step in the name change process, so I was feeling overwhelmed by all of the other changes I would have to make after this one.  So, I walked into office rather, shall we say, entitled.  Immediately, the officer at  the entrance told me to get off my phone (even though it was a VERY important call!).  I hung up, went to take my number and proceeded to wait for the 70 estimated minutes.

As I sat in the waiting area filling out the application, I called my mom to ask information applicable to the questions on the form.  Apparently I was being monitored and the officer came back and told me I was commiting a federal offense by being on the phone.  In my own self-justification, I was appalled that he was telling me what to do, because it was entirely necessary for me to be on the phone.  I was rude to him.  I wish I could say it ended there.  So, since I couldn’t talk on the phone, I figured texting was kosher.  I texted a friend about what a jerk that officer was being.  2 seconds later, said officer came back and I got into trouble in front of everyone in the office.  I was trying to plead my case, that he never told me I couldn’t text….yadda, yadda.  Excuses, excuses.  At this point, I was livid with this man.  How dare he embarrass me in front of all of these people.  He just doesn’t know what I’ve been through….

Fast forward to today.  I had to return to the Social Security office to pick up the confirmation of name change to take to the DMV.  You better believe I was hoping and praying that officer friendly wasn’t working today.  Just to make sure he didn’t notice me (to avoid confrontation), I wore my workout clothes and put no makeup on.  As soon I walked in the front door, he says: “Oh, you’re back.”.  UGH!  I went and did my business at the window, but I knew that I needed to right this glaringly obvious wrong that I created.  As I was leaving, I pulled the officer to the side and apologized for being snotty to him the other day. I told him that I had just gotten divorced, but that was no reason to take it out on him, he was just doing his job.  He shook my hand and took me outside, explaining to me the security measures that are having to be taken right now in this high alert state.  I felt like I was going to cry. 

The point of this story is this:  There are always reasons and excuses to validate our behavior.  This occurance I was not willing to let pass me by, because I knew in my gut that it was a lesson.  I feel so much better right now.  That was initially what this blog was all about–staying on my side of the street.  By accepting my part in the sitation, I am able to see more clearly how to make things right.  I will never forget this situation, mostly because of how vulnerable I felt while it was going down.  Owning my part always sucks right before I do it, but once it’s done, I realize that it was the right thing to do.  I’m so glad I didn’t just walk out the door and ignore him.  My heart is very happy right now.

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5 Responses to “Humility in the Social Security Office”

  1. I find myself in a similar situation today and am just about to write an apology email. Thanks for the inspiration, as always. Yes, we have to own our part–and it sucks, but it’s right and we feel better when it’s over. I love you and thank you for this piece.

  2. Wow. Not at all what I expected to read, but thanks. Thanks for owning your part, thanks for sharing the story, thanks for the reminder, and thanks for the lesson.

  3. You should be aware that security guard (who doesn’t work for SSA by the way, but rather is a rent-a-cop police wannabe carrying a gun) in this case went way beyond his authority.

    There is no federal law against using a cell phone in a Social Security office. None. Nada. Granted, SSA asks you not to have it on, not because it is illegal, but mainly because having phones constantly ringing is very disruptive to the front-end interviews being conducted. As long as your phone doesn’t ring, texting would never really be an issue given that it is silent and non-disruptive.

    You really need to bring this guard’s behavior to the attention of the office management. He had no business humiliating you like he did in front of everyone, and your “apology” to the guard simply reinforced his behavior. It is a power thing, and you shouldn’t let him get away with it. And, long term, you’ll be doing both SSA and the guard a favor by nipping this behavior in the bud before he does something really stupid and gets somebody hurt or gets himself fired.

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