A Long Rant On the Sucking Vortex of Hell

You would think that offical, notarized, stamped, dated and signed divorce papers would be enough for the Social Security office to note my name change. You would THINK that an official United States of America passport, state of Washington photo ID and all existing copies of my Social Security cards would be enough to prove I am who I say I am. But you would be WRONG.

See, it turns out, the Social Security Administration has had my birthday incorrectly in their system SINCE 1972. And then, Lo! Look at that- it was corrected – in the 80s when I got my first passport, and again in 1998- when I got my passport updated to travel for work. And then lo again! there it is in 2001 back to the wrong date- somehow. My birthdate has been changed THREE TIMES in the Social Security admin computers. I do remember a snarl when I first applied for a passport back in Jr High- and my grandma and mom having to sign some papers swearing they knew me.

So today, sorry, simple me, thinking I had my ducks in a row, gathered my signed, notarized, stamped divorce papers, all of my documents saying who I am, looked up the address of the SS building downtown, and headed off. The building wasn’t where they said it was- and when I finally found it, there was a big sign on the door saying they’d moved, with a map to the new building. Off to a great start. I had two hours before I had to meet Bean’s bus- should be easy, right?

New building located, parked, inside, took a number, and mercifully didn’t have to wait long. Was called to the window, and handed over my documents. “Oh, Ms. M, I’m sorry, but these divorce papers are not Certified. We cannot do anything unless they are Certified.” What the…? They’re from my lawyer- see the signature of the judge right there? And the BIG RED stamp that says the county and the date? And see the impression of the Notary Public?

“Nope. Not Certified.”

So what the heck is Certified??  Well, it seems the papers they mail you are not Certified, and you have to go to the county records at the courthouse downtown, and have your copy CERTIFIED, then come back to the SS building in midtown, and then they can help you. Thinking of my calm place… redwood trees… running water….

So can this man help me with my birthday problem, since I don’t think I can manage to get downtown and back in time? He looks at my papers- oh yes, he says he can clearly see that it’s been a problem, and that my numbers were changed here… and here… and again here. But no, he cannot help me. My two AMERICAN issued Passports are not good enough. Nor are his own SS records showing this has happened before. He has to have a CERTIFIED copy of my birth certificate, and must order it from California himself. I cannot get it. And it will take FOUR WEEKS. Breath coming more rapidly. CALM PLACE. WATER. TREES.

I look at my phone. I’ve gotten a sitter for Abby so I can get this done, and now I have wasted an entire, precious afternoon. I WILL get AT LEAST something accomplished. He says I can skip the line if I come back before they close with my CERTIFIED divorce papers from the courthouse downtown.

I roar off. Seriously- like Yosemite Sam. CALM.

I now have an hour. The courthouse is downtown, and parking is a nightmare. I finally find a spot, dig some change from the bottomless pit I call a purse, and head inside. Oh, look- the front entrance, near where I parked IS CLOSED. I have to hike around back, and then go through security beepers, throw my purse in the scanners like at the airport, and then hike three flights of stairs to the Office of the Recorder. Wait. Wait. Wait. Line. Smelly perfume. Wait.

Very bored government employee with dead eyes and smacking gum asks me what I need- it’s the same thing the three women in front of me had needed, and she never even looks at me, only glances at my papers and punches the numbers into her computer, then tells me to go stand in line for the cashier and she’ll get my CERTIFIED COPY. It’s $5 for the first page, and $1.50 for each additional page. I KID YOU NOT. Have you seen a divorce decree?? &$%$


Paper finally in hand, I race back down the stairs and out to my car, and break about five traffic laws trying to get back to SS.  When I get there, the guy who was helping me before waves me to his window. Whew. At least THAT panned out.

I slide my newly minted gold papers under the plexiglass shield to him, and voila, my name is changed. But he still cannot help me with my birthday problem, and I will have to wait for the letter in the mail once they get the CERTIFIED copy from California. Most states are automated now and it can be done online. But not the Golden State. Good old fashioned Snail Mail. How is it this is 2010, we have flying cars and robot maids, but California- the third largest economy in the world– still processes their paper with a fountain pen and an ink blotter??

…Breathing… (also? crying.)

The reason I need all this? The reason this actually matters now? I’m trying to process my entry to the Anonymous Big University I’m going to be attending- and my financial aid papers have hit a snag- BECAUSE MY BIRTHDAY on my entrance forms DOESN’T MATCH UP WITH MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

Four weeks. FOUR weeks.

Breathing. Breathing BREATHING…

20 thoughts on “A Long Rant On the Sucking Vortex of Hell

  1. Seriously!! I. HATE. GOVERNMENT. RUN. ANYTHING!!!!

    I’m having the same snail mail issues with my (yes, still!) insurance crap from CA. Really!? Then they lose the copies anyway. Again. And again. And, yes, again. And don’t let anyone know until you get screwed over. What is WRONG with them!?

    Your afternoon sounds like a nightmare. I’d be pulling all my hair out. I hope your CERTIFIED birth certificate arrives in time and I’m so glad you were able to accomplish at least one thing even if it did involve ridiculously excessive running around and copious amounts of money for paper. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  2. This reminds me of my experience with the INS… (shudder) Stand in line… get told papers are not complete… sit in huge room for 4 hours… re-do papers…wait 3 more hours… get back in line… get told I am Canadian, so the person processing my paperwork doesn’t really care about speeding it through… being threatened with deportation…going home… having a baby (Oh did I mention I was pregnant and hormonal while dealing with this)… coming back and being awarded my Greencard solely because I am now the mother of a US citizen. (the supervisor told me that if I hadn’t had the baby, they were going to send me back to Canada that day)
    I am not looking forward to having to go back to renew my Greencard in 2014. (oh yeah, I am already dreading it)

  3. My name always glitches up my government crap. One should not have a space in one’s last name or CA DMV will accuse you of fraud and unnamed felonies. AND the US Social Security Dept will too. Oh don’t forget the IRS. Or the State Franchise Tax board.

    In short, I feel your pain.

    Can your mom get a certified copy faster? If I go down to the county office, I can get one for my kids or husband on the spot. They print it on the certificate paper and then kerchunk it with the state/county seal.

  4. CA SUCKS to get birth certificates. If either of your boys were born there, you should order the certified copies now for their missions. Because seriously, weeks, if not months.

    I want a flying car and a robot maid. Sign me up.

  5. I am convinced that certain government entities exist solely for making people pull out their hair. We have a disabled unable-to-work friend who fights with SS on a monthly basis because some idiot with a criminal record stole his identity YEARS ago and they have withheld portions of his benefits ever since. No amount of official anything is ever good enough to prove otherwise. Grr. Makes me mad that they aren’t more helpful.

    What a nightmare. I would have been crying. Seriously.

  6. I went to get my as-yet unexpired Missouri Driver’s License renewed. I showed them said UNEXPIRED license. They told me it wasn’t a valid form of identification, and I needed to bring in my passport.

    Did I mention that I was at the office that issued it, and they had the record – with the same picture – in their computers? They said it was state policy. State policy not to accept state-issued ID as ID.


    I feel for you.

  7. Um, not that you have the time, but wouldn’t it be faster to drive to where you were born in CA and try to get a certified birth certificate in person?

    Just thinking….

    • Yeah, that’s the problem. My mom was willing to go down and get a certified copy for me- but that’s not good enough for a BC- SS needs a copy straight from the state, untouched by my caste hands, lest I have altered it in some way. THEY have to get it.


  8. I think these people must be preparing for their future jobs in hell because going through stuff like this is equivalent of hell – complete with no progression.

    It sucks big rocks. Sorry.

    Strangely enough today I got back an FBI background check (to become a foster parent) in 5 days – they told me it would be 4-6 weeks! Bizarre aberration I’m sure.

    • Haha, their future jobs in hell!?! lol. Can you imagine them getting ready for work each morning as it is? “Gotta make sure my tie is on straight. Don’t want anyone getting the wrong impression of me now.”

  9. Did you see the SNL Weekend Update last Saturday with Satan as a guest? Hilarious. I’m sure this could fit in with his person task of training the Walgreen’s cashiers. He probably trains the government officials too like jendoop mentioned.

    I hope your BC gets here safe and sound!

  10. Oh yeah and if you do have a birth certificate from California it better not be an abstract. Because it won’t be accepted as the legal document it is. When my oldest got her license it was held up and we drove from Az to Ca to get another official copy. It was faster and easier to drive and get it rather then through the mail.

  11. Oh my gosh–I thought I was the only one the changed birthdate thing happened to! When I got married and changed my name, the SS office somehow changed my birthdate. We didn’t find out until the next year when we tried to file taxes online and the IRS freaked out. It was a big fat pain in the butt to get it changed, and I still can’t file taxes online (8 years later) because the IRS still hasn’t gotten the message from the social security office. Grr…


    My MIL had a major problem applying for her passport this year (which she needed to get to see her son get married in Japan this month) because she doesn’t have a birth certificate. She’s never had a birth certificate. There are no records of her birth anywhere, except for an affidavit of live birth that her mother had signed and had notarized and whatnot to serve the legal purposes of everything that might need a birth certificate–except for getting a passport. She had to get some other form of early childhood records to prove that she had been born, which meant she had to get her grade school records from Los Angeles USD, which you can imagine was a real picnic. But it all worked out (with a lot of nagging phone calls to LAUSD) eventually, so she got her passport and saw her son get married. Your story will have a happy ending, too! But in the meantime, it sucks.

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