Tuesday, September 2, 2014

1 Bad Apple - A Bit of a Rant

How could the woman say she did not see 'this shirt'?

Today I took my mother to get an Illinois State ID.   First of all, my mom is in her 80s, has arthritis and doesn’t see very well.  Just getting her to the Secretary of State’s office was a chore.  Her last State ID had expired in 2008 and my dad kept promising to take her but never did.  She needed a valid state ID in order to get a handicapped placard.  I used to use my dad’s, but since they have been cracking down because of placard misuse, I could get fined for using it for my mom hence the need for a separate one for her.

Once we got there, a nice young woman held the door open for us.  The 1st young man was very helpful, looking for my mom’s info on the computer.  Not quite 6 years after the ID expired; the state had no record of her in their system.  He looked over our documents for us, even checking with a supervisor to see if they would accept a letter from the hospital as proof of residence since very few official pieces of mail come in my mom's name.  Then we went into the waiting area where I saw on the board that they had called a number higher than ours.  I went to an open window and that young man was also very helpful, but after checking with a supervisor, was unable to accept the hospital letter as it did not have a date on it but we could wait to get called by a supervisor.  So we waited with a new number to get called again.  The nice lady got approval to accept the letter as proof of residence but had an issue because the system told her that my mom’s SSN# (from her expired state ID card) did not match the name.  Our only recourse at that point was a) got to the social security office (1/2 hr. away) with my mom, wait there who knows how long to get some paperwork we would most probably have to pay for or b) go home(10 minutes away) and try to find her original social security card.  We opted for b and went home to look for the card.  When we got home, my dad gave me a letter that had just come today for my mom from the pharmacy regarding her last prescription and he had managed to find a letter from her life insurance company.  We were ready to give up and go to the social security office after almost an hour of looking when, viola – there it was. 

Now back to the Secretary of State’s office.  We bypassed the queue and stood in line #1 like we had been told.  The supervisor saw us and had us come to his desk.  I gave him all the info and he took care of us.  He let my mom sit there while I took the paperwork to the cashier (there was no charge but it had to be verified at the cashier).  Then we went to get her picture taken by a very accommodating young man who even took a second picture of her smiling to put on her ID. 

So far so good in the sense that everyone was very polite and helpful and tried to expedite us through all of this.  We had been told that as soon as she gets her ID, we should go to the special services area where they would fax the form to Springfield so she could get her placard as soon as possible.  At the special services area, we had to take a number, which we did.  There were some people ahead of us, so we sat down and waited.  In the meantime, the 2 ladies taking care of the people in the special services area left and a new person came and after a bit, took the man that was there before us.  While she was prepping for work, 2 more people came and took numbers.  She never called any number; just pointed to one of the men that came after us to come up.  When she was done with him, she pointed to the other man that had come after us to come up.  At this point I got up and asked why she was taking people that came after us.  She asked what number we had and I said 47.  She tried to say that she did not see us.  I said that we must be too ‘transparent’ (I was going to say ‘white’ but thought better of it). I was wearing the blouse in the photo and my mom was wearing a similarly flowered mumu.  There was no way she did not see us unless she was blind (which she wasn’t).   While I was complaining, instead of apologizing, she snippily said, “Well I’m taking care of you now.” 

This is how 1 bad apple can spoil a whole bunch.  This should have been under the heading of 'Sometimes I get a Good Feeling' but... Seven very nice people before her had been extremely kind and helpful because they saw how difficult it was for me to maneuver with my mom and this one dismissive woman who was clearly discriminating against us because of our 'color' or rather lack of; turned a frustrating but not impossible day into one where both my mom’s and my blood pressure skyrocketed and left us both very upset. 

We started our Illinois Secretary of State ID saga at 10:00am and ended it at 2:45pm - almost 5 hours.

This reminded me of the time my parents were finally forced to apply for food stamps way back in the 1970s after my dad had been laid off for months and there was no money for food for my siblings.  Because they were the wrong 'color', they were forced to wait all day and then were told that the office was closing and they would have to come back - at which time my dad went ballistic and the woman who had been ignoring us all day (I was with them as their Czech/English translator) was forced to stay and take care of us. 

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