Accordian Man

18 June 2009

I am thoroughly enjoying my time with my mama. We’ve chatted and debated and giggled, looked over photos and played with the dogs—our two and her two. But, into the process of having fun, I had to toss a big ole’ government-induced monkey wrench. Here’s the tale.

My driver’s license expired on my birthday, this year. And, I was due for a new photo, so I had to go in, rather than renew by mail. The birthday fell on a Saturday and I went to the Department of Public Safety office on Monday, the 20th to renew. I was issued a temporary paper license that would be good for 60 days and I merrily went on my way. I even blogged that day about how pleasant and easy the experience had been.

Now, cut to the 17th of June.  In that day’s mail, came a letter from the Texas Department of Public Safety (our equivalent of a DMV).  It informed me that the DPS had been unable to match my social security number to my driver’s license number, and therefore my license was held up—“alarmed” they called it— in Austin, pending notification by the Social Security Administration that I was indeed . . . me.

Okay, so time for a confession:  I had never changed my name with the SSA. Nope.  Been married happily for fourteen years, and never had Kyle’s last name put on my social security card.  But, then, I’ve never needed it before now, either.  I’m self-employed.  I know my number, and I have my very old, original SS card from when I was a child in New York.  After all, my maiden name never changes.  But, the problem here, is that when I married Roger, I did get a new social security card.  While I no longer have that physical card (I remember it was blue for some reason), the federal office still has me on file with that last name. 

I have renewed my driver’s license more than once since marrying Kyle, and I’ve never needed this consistency before.  But, apparently now, it matters.  And, since my temporary license is about to expire, (I have no explanation for why it took them seven weeks to tell me there was a problem!)  I didn’t have any choice but to deal with this immediately.  I looked up the Social Security Administration online and found the nearest office.  I called them to ask what all I needed to bring, and I carefully collected all the pertinent documentation:  old social security card, paperwork from the SSA showing the old married name, marriage license, passport (since I have no current driver’s license with my photo on it) and temporary license.  I also grabbed some old paperwork from the last time I renewed my license without this rigamarole, thinking it might come in handy. 

We drove to Grand Prairie, waited for half an hour or so, for my number to come up, and finally made it to window #1.  After rather quickly looking over my paperwork, the nice woman at the window informed me that she needed to see . . . the divorce decree.   The one bit of beaurocratic bullshit I hadn’t brought with me. 

It made no sense to me.  It’s not that they needed to see what my last name once was—they knew that.  And the divorce decree returned my name to my maiden name, not to my new married name that I now needed on a Social Security card.  And I couldn’t have gotten the marriage license if I hadn’t had a divorce decree at that time.  Likewise, the passport showed the name change.  Previous licenses showed the name change . . . But, nothing else would do, I had to go home to get it.  I was so frustrated I could barely see to drive!

Most of an hour later,  I was back in the same office where fortunately, I’d been told I didn’t have to wait in line again.  The nice lady processed my request, and gave me a receipt saying I’d have my new card in two weeks.  So, then, it was off to the DPS to straighten out the license thing.

But, it couldn’t be that simple.  After waiting in a long line there, I was told that the change I’d just requested at the Social Security office wasn’t in the system, yet, and I’d have to come back tomorrow.  Grrr.  I don’t deal well with the stupidity of a system where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.  It makes me nuts.  People are treated like numbers and there is no logic at play, at all.  <sigh>

Good thing the day was to culminate with a delicious German dinner at Edelweiss.  We all had a wonderful time—Kelly and Stephen and Ed joined the four of us, and I was very pleased to introduce those dear friends to my mama.  They got a pretty good view of her, too—complete with her and I singing show tunes to the accordian music so skillfully offered up by the fun-loving man in my photo.  Mama and I even took advantage of the dance floor at one point.  I come by my goofiness honestly!

~MB