I had a 9:45 appointment at the local Social Security office this morning.
This appointment was made in March, after I spent a couple of hours on the phone with the Social Security Administration and the Medicare office, trying to get clarification about what I was going to be charged for Medicare. The calls were the result of getting three letters with three different amounts listed as my monthly payment... plus a bill for an amount that did not match any of the letters.
One of the people I spoke to then, a woman who I would swear said her name was Candy Crush, said of the most recent letter I'd received, "Sir, that amount isn't even one that shows up on our charts!" She is the person who scheduled my visit for "the next available appointment" seven weeks hence.
So, I showed up about ten minutes early for my appointment, with all my letters in a folder, and, because I was expecting a wait, a book to read. When you walk in, a security guard points you towards the "sign-in machine." You enter your social security number, indicate whether you have an appointment, and a ticket with a code number is generated; my number was A73. There were different numbers posted on the video screen -- A's, B's, C's, etc. -- and A72 was currently being handled, so I figured I did not have long to wait.
Indeed, about ten minutes later, I was called to window #1 (one of the four windows in the room), where a woman asked me if I had an appointment. This struck me as rather odd, since I'd answered that question and presumably code the A-code number because I did have one. "Well, I'm officially logging you in now. Someone will call your name." What was the purpose of signing in if I wasn't really signed in?
So I sat. And I read. And I waited. And no one called my name. At about 10:30, a woman came in and she got #A74, something I determined when she was called to window #4 and got the same line about being logged in.
Other people had their names called and went through a door to the back. Some people just got called to windows and, their questions answered or forms processed, went on their way. And I sat. And I read. And I waited.
From where I was sitting, I could hear the man in window #4. He was quite knowledgeable as he dealt with a variety of people and their questions.
At 11:45, I went back to window #1 and asked the woman just how long I had to wait to be called for my 9:45 appointment.
She:"Is this your first time coming to the window?"
Me: "No, you checked me in two hours ago."
She: (typing on her computer) "What's your name?"
She: (more typing) "I'm not seeing you here."
She asks me to write down my social security number, which she then enters three or four times. "Maybe your name was called and you didn't hear it."
Me: "I've been sitting here for two hours! I would have heard my name called."
She: "Well, I will put you back on the board, so have a seat and someone will get to you soon."
I went back and sat down, but I could tell she was still trying to figure out how she had wiped me out of the system, as she kept looking at the slip of paper I'd written my SS# on and kept typing it in. She then consulted the man at window #2, but he could not help. Nor could the man at window #3.
However, the man at window #4, said. "I'll handle it."
He called my name and when I came up, said, "I'm going to help you right now."
And he took care of the entire problem in less than five minutes!