Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I'm not saying I'm old, but my Social Security number is 187

Yesterday was the day I've worked toward since I was a senior in high school. I went to the Social Security office in Towson and signed up for benefits.  I'm eligible in June, so there I was yesterday morning, signing up.  I had envisioned a vast office, filled with people in shirtsleeves, each with a Burroughs adding machine on his/her desk and sleeve garters, punching numbers into the machine and then tearing off the printed tape, tossing it over the desk to the elated citizen.

But no!  I had made an appointment (I'm a busy retiree, and need to be home by 12:30 to see how those crazy honeymooners Victor and Nikki are doing) and after just a short time sitting on a metal folding chair reading Ring Lardner, I was taken to a small room for "the interview."  For those of you who worry that when your time comes for "the interview," some humorless official will tell you that there is no record of you, your SS #, or any deposits in your name...fear not!  The interview was actually done via remote teleconference hookup.  I sat and talked with a woman in Pittsburgh, but was able to see myself cheesing on my end in a smaller image on the screen.  In half an hour or so, she had asked me every question (no, I was not a Japanese internee during World War II, and no, I never worked outside the United States) and told me how much to plan on every month until the one when I'm placed on a slab.

I remembered my first job as I drove away from the parking lot. After considering numerous job offers - my parents offered to boot me out if I didn't get one - I settled on a position with the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company - hereinafter referred to as "the A&P" - and was given the title of "Clerk, part time."

That first week, I took home the princely sum of $23.51, after spending several evenings unloading truckloads of Libby's Vienna Sausage, Cliquot Club Ginger Ale, and Nabisco Fig Newtons.  I earned ("grossed") more than that, but the government, well aware of my predilection for spending all my money on record albums by Hank Snow and the Rainbow Ranch Boys, Schlitz beer, Kool cigarettes and Italian cold cut submarine sandwiches, thought it best to deduct a certain amount of what I earned and set it aside for my old age.

And that was good, because if they hadn't set some loot up for me, I would not be getting Social Security payments as of this summer. Ironically, looking at what I am going to get now for not working, and comparing it to what I made for unloading truckloads of Ken-L-Ration Dog Food, Our Own Tea Bags and Jane Parker Spanish Bar Cakes, I'm doing better doing nothing.

There were other jobs in between the A&P days and the day that Baltimore County pensioned me off, but apparently old Uncle Sam took plenty along the way, and now it's payoff time.  I hope I live forever!

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