Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Rage Against the Machine.

Zalman does not have a social security number. Today I went to remedy that.

Yaakov did all the homework online. I had Zalman's birth certificate with me, which is what the website said we needed. I had my ID's. I had the application filled out. Ready to roll.

I arrived at the social security office and got my computer generated ticket (#548, 10:16am). I brought my siddur, so I settled in to daaven. 45 minutes later, I hear an announcement: "If you are applying for a minor, a birth certificate is not a valid ID. You will need blah blah blah." Uh oh. That's not what the website said. That's not what the literature in the office said, either. I went to the window. "I don't have the ID's you asked for. The minor I'm applying for is 9 months old." "You'll need a vaccination record." "He's not vaccinated, what else can I bring?" "You can bring pediatric records that verify his date of birth, and an insurance card with his name printed on it." Okay, I thought. I moved to the side, formulating a plan. I'll run to the pediatrician's right now! I searched my wallet for our insurance card. Uh oh. Only Yaakov's name was on it.

I went back to the window - the lady was helping someone else. "Have the security guard call the supervisor," she said. I turned to the security guard. "Ma'am, can you call the supervisor for me?" "No, sit down and wait for them to call your number." I inwardly groaned. You give these losers an inch of power, and they become Stalin. I didn't sit down. "Ma'am, the lady behind the window told me to ask you."
I wasn't about to wait another hour unless I got the ID situation cleared up. She said no. She asked me to sit again.

I don't know exactly when I decided on civil disobedience. I refused to sit down. I just stood there, talking to Yaakov on my cellphone, staring at the presidential portrait behind her shabby desk. There's no law that tells me I have to sit, I thought. You wanna be Stalin?
I'll be your Trotsky, baby. "Can you please call again," I asked. She was livid. She told me - not too nicely - to sit down again. Then the door to the office opened and I pounced on the employee that emerged. I explained my whole ID problem. She told to me what I needed to do.

I punched myself another ticket and flew to the pediatrician's. The only record they had with Zalman's name and date of birth was the insurance confirmation. They copied it for me. Then I flew home and picked up our "special envelope," the one with all our legal documentation. I wanted to have every piece of information available. If they wanted to see my kesuba, they could. I left no margin for error.

I ran back to the office - it was after 12 at this point - and they still hadn't called my original number! The security dominatrix was nowhere to be found. 15 minutes later, I was called to the window. The woman behind the counter peered at me. "Why doesn't your 6 month old have a social security number?" "He's 9 months old. It's because he was born at home." So there! And he's not vaccinated either! So shove it up your - "Yes ma'am, I do have his birth certificate."

He was approved.


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