Saturday, February 19, 2005

The common bond between Overpaid Government Workers and Computers

Having already established that funny things I post don't have to be at all recent, I present to you the following portions of a play in two acts, by Atomizer at Fraters Libertas:

Apparently, I'm a little bit older today than I think I am.

Yesterday I got an e-mail notifying me that my 2004 Federal tax return was rejected because the date of birth I provided did not match the information currently available on the very ominous sounding "IRS Masterfile". This Masterfile is purportedly based on information provided by the Social Security Administration as I was strongly advised to take the matter up with them.

Being very eager to see my somewhat substantial tax refund returned to me as soon as physically possible I immediately phoned the nearest Social Security office. That phone conversation went something like this:

Overpaid Government Worker #1: (in broken English) Social Security Administration.
Me: Yes, your records have my birth date incorrect and I'd like to get that cleared up.
OGW 1: Okay, what you need to do is apply for a new Social Security card.
Me: do I go about doing that?
OGW 1: Well, you need to fill out an SS-5 form and either mail it to us or bring it in with two forms of identification with your new birth date on them.
Me:'s not really a new birth date. It's the same one that I've had for quite some time now. I just need you guys to correct it in your files.
OGW 1: You still need to fill out the form.
Me: Okay. What forms of ID will you accept?
OGW 1: We'd prefer an original birth certificate.
Me: And if I don't have one?
OGW 1: Then just bring in two forms of identification with your new birth date on them.
Me: (Patiently ignoring repeated generality and semantic error) Such as....?
OGW1: Drivers license, employee ID card, health insurance card, life insurance policy...
Me: (Interrupting) Passport?
OGW 1: Yes, passport is good.
Me: Okay. So if I bring my drivers license and my passport in to the office you guys can correct this?
OGW 1: If they have your new birth date on them.
Me: It's NOT a new...never mind. Thanks for your help.

So, today I head down to the Social Security office with my completed SS-5, drivers license and passport in hand. The conversation there went something like this:

Overpaid Government Worker #2: What can I do for you?
Me: My birth date is wrong in your records and I'd like to get it corrected.
OGW 2: Your Social Security number?
Me: ###-##-####
OGW 2: Birth date?
Me: July 31, 1967.
OGW 2: I have June 30, 1967.
Me: Yeah...I know. That's why I'm here.
OGW 2: You have to get that corrected.
Me: (Audible sigh)
OGW 2: Identification?
Me: (With confidence) I have my passport and my drivers license.
OGW 2: Ohhh...I don't think we can accept a passport.
Me: (Audible groan)
OGW 2: Let me check. Selma! Can we accept passports for changing a birth date?
Overpaid Government Worker #3: (Shaking her head) Birth certificate.
OGW 2: You need a birth certificate.
Me: But I was told on the phone that a passport would work.
OGW 2: (Suddenly blessed with the gift of omnipotence) If it were just a typo we could correct it, but our system says your birth date is June 30 so we need a birth certificate to change it.
(Prolonged silence)
Me: But, you see, it IS just a typo! My birthday is July 31 and it has been for 37 years! My passport verifies this and I needed a birth certificate to get that, you know.
OGW 2: We need a certified birth certificate.
Me: But I have a passport! It was issued by the U.S. Government!! It's a valid form of identification all over the world!!! I used one to cross into East Germany when I was 20 years old!!!! Those border guards were heavily armed and looking for a reason to send [me] back across the border fer cryin' out loud!!!!! You're just an overpaid pencil pushing bureaucrat whose job, nay, entire existence is a colossal waste of everyone's time!!!!!! I HAVE A PASSPORT...!!!!!!! (Portions of the previous statements may not have been verbally expressed)
OGW 2: Next!

I think the uses of "nay," "semantic" and "omnipotence" really add to the reality of the dialogue.

My guess is that you'll laugh even harder if you imagine The Atomizer having this conversation with a computer - I know Beverly will at least...