Social Security Hell (Wish they would consider mystery shoppers!)

This is my month of experiencing government hell firsthand as a citizen of the United States. Bad enough I already have had to endure the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Rabun County Tag Office but these past three days I have spent a total of 5 ½ hours at the Franklin NC office of the Social Security Administration.

If you have not been lately, you might not be aware that effective January 1st they are now closing every SSA office nationwide at 3pm every day….except in March they further reduced that to now shutting down every SSA office every Wednesday at noon. Of course they have to call out their glass door contractors and pay to have these sorts of changes corrected on the doors with every modification. Forget the fact that the number of clients as not changed, but the number of hours has decreased by nearly 25% in 2013.

Today as I was watching the cheesy Social Security TV infomercial endless loop featuring Star Trek’s Sulu (he is the guy who pilots the Starship Enterprise at warp speed, something I would never associate the Social Security office of ever being able to accomplish) this Social Security efficiency expert showed up [ I am not kidding…this is real ]

Over the next 90 minutes I watched her roam around the lobby area oblivious to the crowds of people bored out of their minds as she was measuring the distance between all of the posters and literature hanging on the walls! She had a clipboard and long checklist totally unaware of the crowds of people, and the fact that only two Social Security worker windows were open (the other 8 were shut). Among her important responsibilities was to make sure that there was precisely six inches between the hanging portraits of Barak Obama and Joe Biden and that each and every form and piece of literature was in both English and Spanish and that the no knives or guns were allowed posters (except for the Security Guard who was trying hard not to fall asleep) were not crooked. I would have recorded all of this to put on YouTube but, of course, no photography allowed was also one of the 200 or so items on her literature checklist.

Occasionally she would run off for one of her government mandated coffee breaks and the entire room would erupt in laughter at the absolute absurdity of what we were all witnessing. If crap like this has to go on from the Social Security Administration, Division of Forms and Poster maintenance, at the inspector general’s office, you would think they would do it when the damn lobby is not filled with people.

Nearly two hours after getting there (keep in mind, I had been there on Monday & Tuesday also trying to get my matter resolved) the lobby was just about empty so I decided to have some fun. I went back to that “Take a number” machine, asked to speak with the location manager and told him I would be writing to both United States Senators and my Congressman about the utter nonsense of this bureaucrat running around measuring posters when they needed to have sat her ass down at one of those windows to resolve the backlog of people waiting to speak with someone instead of worrying if they was a sign offering translation services for people who speak Urdu.

With a straight face Chuck Smith, the Franklin NC Field Office Manager said that Ms. Spicer’s (the poster inspector with the title of Assistant to the District Director) inspection visit from Asheville NC was vitally important to the operation of their agency as they wanted to assure the conformity and accuracy of display information between all SSA offices. She even brought along a 2nd staff person to aid her in her inspection efforts! The more he went on about the critical value of poster inspections I was wondering why this kind of crap could not be cut in these times of sequestration and budget cuts. I have to wonder if the FAA has poster inspectors running around the control towers at airports even as the Air Traffic Controllers are told to go home.

If ever any of you need convincing that our federal government is broke, I invite you to spend a big chunk of your week hanging out at your local Social Security Office where you can explore strange new government practices, seek out new forms of government waste, and boldly go to where no taxpayer has ever gone before. Would someone please beam Sulu up!

Big Ed
Mystery shopping in the Great Smokey & Blue Ridge Mountain ranges of Southern Appalachia (GA, NC, SC, & TN)

Big Ed
Mystery shopping in the Great Smokey & Blue Ridge Mountain ranges of Southern Appalachia (GA, NC, SC, & TN)

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I had an assignment like that for banks of one chain. I had to make sure they had video cameras, that the FDIC signs were up, and I had to measure every window on the ground floor (and some other details). I never knew why. They paid fast and they paid well.
Must be a government thing. I have had to do some of those observations on a USPS shop in the past.
Well, at least you can visit your office. Ours are open by appointment only and you can't get in the door without one. I wonder if the Spanish signs are required on the Navajo Nation or if they are required to print in Navajo!
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