She caught my ear because of her loud, abrasive tone, and she kept it because repeatedly people approached her window only to be talked down to and informed that they may “think” something but she was absolutely certain in her correctness. I thought I would be okay. After all, I had made it past the check in window where they screen people to make sure they have the documentation they need. But the problem with being an eternal optimist is that you are so often let down.
I approached her window with all of my papers in hand.
Awful Woman: How can I help you?
Me: My husband applied for social security disability and was approved. He needs this form filled out confirming that for his state retirement application.
AW: (Looking over my shoulder) Is your husband here?
Me: No, he isn’t able to come in. He is under the care of hospice now.
AW: Well, then I can’t help you. He has to come in.
Me: He cannot come into the office. (pause) So, I sat here waiting for an hour and a half and you can’t help me? I told the woman at the check in desk that he wasn’t here.
AW: Well, I didn’t know. Can you get him on the phone?
Me: No, his voice is barely a whisper so talking on the phone would be difficult. He is having trouble breathing so talking is a challenge.
AW: Then there is nothing I can do.
Me: (sliding her the form and the confirmation letter from social security) I have the letter confirming his benefits. I have his power of attorney.
AW: You are not his representative payee. Why didn’t they have him designate you when he filled out his application? I am unwilling to sign this form. How do I know it is his signature?
Me: I have several notarized documents with his signature on them (including the power of attorney).
AW: I can’t know this is his signature so have him mail the form to us. I can’t release the information to you.
Me: Okay. I have a stamped envelope addressed to the Virginia Retirement System. You can just mail it directly to them and not release it to me.
AW: (snapping) Who worked with you on your claim?
Me: Dora. But I have left her several messages, and she hasn’t returned my calls.
AW: Let me go and talk to her and see if she will sign it.
(Long pause while the awful woman goes to speak to Dora, and I try to gather myself together because in the course of all of this, of course, I get teary eyed. So to set the scene – I am at a window, crying, in front of a packed to the gills waiting room.)
Dora: Mrs. Tremaine?
Dora: I can fill out the form for you. The reason I didn’t make you the representative payee is that Mr. Tremaine is able to make decisions. I have talked to him several times and know this to be true.
Me: I didn’t ask to be his representative payee. I don’t care about that. The other lady said she wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t.
AW: (rushing over) That is correct. She didn’t ask. But she needs to be made his payee. He is unable to speak on the phone now.
(Pause here while Dora and AW start arguing. They then step away to further “discuss”. )
Dora: You are the representative payee for the children, and I think that is important since Mr. Tremaine is in poor health.
Dora: Why did you complain to my manager that I didn’t return your phone calls?
Me: (insert near defeated sigh) I was not complaining about you. I mentioned that you had not returned my call in regard to direct deposit.
Dora: If I don’t return your call, it is because you have provided the information that I needed.
Me: (making the decision to let it go) If I was going to complain about anyone it would be your manager. What an rude, uncompassionate person. I appreciate your help very much. Thank you. (Grabbing my signed paper and getting the heck out of dodge.)
The reason organizations get a bad reputation is because of people like the manager at the Waples Mill Social Security office. You will recognize her by the too tight hair bun and the gaping hole in her chest where her heart should be.