Editor’s note: Welcome to “Carmine’s Sunday Screech,” your weekly peek into the mind of The Brooklyn Paper’s most awesome columnist, Carmine Santa Maria. And when we say “awesome” we mean it in the truest definition of the word — Carmine is extremely impressive or daunting, inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear. But we digress. Carmine, who’s a big fan of Zorro (hence the cape in his logo), has been living in and serving the people of Brooklyn for most of his life and, starting today, you’ll find his thoughts on the trials, tribulations and triumphs that come with being a part of the greatest city in the world right here. We’re confident you’ll hang on this demonstrative 75-year-old’s every word and that, by the time he turns 80, he’ll have received a proclamation from the Borough President, naming him the greatest columnist on the planet! So, without any further ado, here’s his latest screech!
Look, nobody’s perfect, but you all know that my lovely wife Sharon is the closest thing there is to it. So when she told me she misplaced her Social Security card that we needed to get her on my health insurance plan, I wasn’t angry. I simply told her to go onto the Google and find out what we had to do to get a new one.
No big deal, right?
In this day and age of instant information — with tweeter feeds, the world wide internet, and television stations that never play the national anthem before the screen goes white — you’d think that finding out how to get a replacement Social Security card would be simple.
But, as it turns out, those numbnutz responsible for the putting together the Social Security website don’t know their noses from their toeses.
Sharon was able to downgrab a multi-paged form — ingeniously called an SS-5 — and followed it’s directions to a “T.”
But when we realized it was asking us to mail it to 10 Bouck Court in Brooklyn — right around the corner! — I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Now, I’m no cheapskate, but when I’ve got a chance to save a stamp, I take it. Plus, I didn’t want to let the U.S. Postal Service deliver something that I could drop off myself (Take it from me, I worked for the Post Office for 30 years!).
So I dropped Sharon off at 10 Bouck Court, and she came out six minutes later — after having a typical bad experience at a bureaucratic office. The place was mobbed, she told me, and a clerk told her we had to go to 625 Fulton St. Downtown to some new office. Sharon explained she had a letter telling her that this was the place we needed to go, but the woman would have none of it!
“I’m sorry, but we do not issue Social Security Cards here,” she claimed. “Even if I needed a card I would have to go to Fulton Street to get one.”
She then handed Sharon a flyer directing her Downtown.
Now, I ask you, if the clerk at the office had this flyer, why wasn’t it on the interweb! Apparently, Social Security Administration headquarters hasn’t received the news yet — even though the new center has been there for years!
The pamphlet recommended we take the train Downtown, but I wasn’t sure the directions were accurate. I know what once was the “B” is now the “D” and stuff like that, but I don’t remember when that change took place, and I certainly don’t know when this pamphlet was printed and if things have changed since then. Oh, and by the way, I have a car.
So I opted to drive Sharon Downtown and our quest to find this building began.
Now, you all know the last time this Bensonhurst resident went Downtown on a regular basis was in 1956 when I taught dance for Arthur Murray’s Dance School at Smith and Jay Street, and since then, there’s been about a zillion changes: A&S is gone, Mays is gone, Gage & Tolner is gone, even the transit authority is gone (unfortunately, it’s shell of a building is still there, ugly as ever!). And with the advent of this thing called “Metrotech” it’s a whole new world down there. I mean, what the heck happened to Myrtle Avenue!
And don’t get me started on parking down there, because it’s not easy. Make that it’s the worst!
Look, when it comes to paying for parking, you guys all know I’ve got short arms and deep pockets, and there’s no way I’m going to buck up $25 to park my chariot when I can drive around for 25 minutes and find a spot on the street that costs just 25 cents (I’d like to use that “cents” symbol, but I can’t find it on my stupid computer’s keyboard. It was always next to the semi-colon on my trusty old Smith Corona). (Editor’s note: Hey Screecher! Cut and paste: ¢).
Lo and behold, I found a spot on good old Livingston Street, and Sharon walked a couple of blocks to the building. Miraculously, she returned within 20 minutes (which I know because I only had to feed the meter once. Fifty cents to park! Whoo-hoo!
In her pocketbook she had a receipt and the documents we needed to get her health coverage, and we went merrily on our way. If those dopey bureaucrats in Washington get it right, she’ll have received her replacement card by the time you read this.
Of course, I’m not holding my breath, because if I did, I might end up dead.
Sharon said she talked to two clerks at the place, and both were pleasant and polite. Can you believe it? Well, see for yourself. The next time you have a problem with your Social Security Card, head down there and tell them the Screecher sent ya!
Now, you won’t have to go on the Interweb and get the wrong information. Hey! Maybe one of those techno-bureaucrats will read this and fix it!
Nah! I’ll believe it when I see it.
Screech at you next week!