My father in law always says that the worst any country has to offer can be found in its administrative offices. Truer words have never been spoken. After three years of dealing with French bureaucracy, I got a taste of America's today and here's the verdict: it's no better.
My parents had warned me not to go to the Social Security office in the city. Per usual, they were right. I did heed their advice to take a book, so I passed the time reading Water for Elephants, a very appropriate choice given my circus-like surroundings. I did my best to concentrate and only paused once to eavesdrop. I couldn't resist.
The couple sitting next to me were having a very heated discussion about the months of the year, or more specifically which comes first: July or August. He was convinced that July follows August, while she adamantly maintained that "it goes June, July, August -you's stupid!" This went on for quite a while.
I could have attempted to settle the dispute with my planner, but since I purchased it in France I can only imagine the chaos that juin, juillet, août might have caused when added to this equation. I shudder just to think...
There were also technical difficulties with the number system, so the clerks would call out "C202" in their wimpy little voices and then the security guard would bellow, "C202, C202, where's my C202?" The whole thing was like being at an auction sans items up for bid.
If no one responded, he would check outside to see if any of the smokers' held the ticket in question. And if he still hadn't found that ticket holder he would then proceed to knock impatiently on the bathroom door, shouting "C202 -you in there, C202? Hold on a sec' we got C202 here in the restroom!"
I wish I were making this up, but I'm not that creative.
Since my French marriage documents confused the heck out of everyone, even the supervisor and led to questions like, "why ain't this in English?" [Ummm, because they speak French in France.] I guess I'll have to try this dog and pony show again at Christmas, perhaps in Henrico County instead.
Wish me luck!