The Tenth Circle of Hell

Dante only wrote about the nine circles of hell because he was a man who never had to go to the DMV and the social security office in the same day.  But I have seen this place…I have experienced it…and I lived to tell the tale.

When your beautiful, perfect, amazing child is born, there are many adult responsibilities you have to handle, in addition to cuddles.  One of those is making sure that your baby has a social security number, if for no other reason than you are going to want that tax write off come April.  Our hospital has a wonderful woman that comes to your room, helps you fill out lots of paperwork, and then mails everything to social security for you.  How wonderful!  All you have to do is wait for their card to come in the mail.

So, I waited.

And waited.

And then I got ready to go back to work and realized it had been 12 weeks and we still didn’t have his card and the government is slow but is it that slow and how do I even start to get a replacement…

If you are me, this is what you do.  Please note that I am not sure this is the right way.  Honestly, I hope you are just reading this for the joy of finding a few laughs at my misery and not for actual advice.

I called the social security office and waited on hold for about 45 minutes to be told that they cannot do anything for me over the phone because I don’t know his social security number.  (Which seemed to surprise them…and their surprise surprised me because that was the whole reason I was calling…)  The polite woman told me that I would have to go in person to a social security office.  Please.  No.   But before I went there, I would need a copy of his birth certificate, which could be obtained in person at my local DMV.  But.  Why.

Just about the only person in the world that could make me go to the two most loathed places on the planet in one day.


I finally mustered up the courage, picked up a large coffee from Starbucks and a blueberry muffin, stuffed the newest edition of Garden and Gun under my arm, and made my way to the Smithfield DMV.  I had to make up my own parking space because it was packed when I arrived at 10:15 am.  The line was almost out the door, but I squeezed my postpartum hips into the musky room with a smile and a silent a prayer for patience.  My patience was tested shortly thereafter when an obnoxious teenage girl TRIED TO SKIP ME (ARE YOU CRAZY?!) in line with a shrug and a “I’ve been waiting here a long time and it won’t take me long at the counter.”

First of all, you better look me dead in the face and not out of your side-eye when you are about to disrespect me.  I have a healthy amount of redneck crazy that I can usually keep hidden below the surface with a few deep breaths.  But I will come at you like the freaking Hulk in this overheated DMV and it is for your protection that you see me coming at you.  Second of all, take a look around.  We are all waiting and no one thinks your waiting is somehow more terrible than theirs.  Lastly, I secretly hope you hit a cone during your driving test and it isn’t enough to fail you but enough to humble you.  I chose the Southern lady approach and gently shoved my way past her while muttering an angry “Excuse me” and shot the woman behind the desk my best Southern smile.

I have mastered the Southern art of throwing on a smile despite how much I might want to throat punch someone.

I waited at the DMV for two hours.  It was slightly stinky, packed, and I noticed that there are many people in the town of Smithfield that desperately need to purchase a belt.  Seriously.  Having to stare at your butt crack does nothing but make me gag on my coffee.  But I got what I came for and made my way 30 minutes down the road to the nearest social security office.

I would later learn that you can make an appointment at your social security office, and I highly recommend that.  I did not do that.  I still regret that I did not know this information sooner.  I would get a number, settle down on an uncomfortable metal bench, and wait.  I only had to wait one hour and forty five minutes before A109 was called over the speaker system.  I gleefully went to the desk only to be told that since I didn’t have his social security number I would need to bring another piece of identifying paperwork in addition to the birth certificate.  Since my child is three months old and has not had many transactions, I was limited to his immunization record.  I left the social security office as storm clouds were gathering (a reference to both the weather and my mood), headed to the pediatrician’s office, drove back to social security, waited for an hour and half, and applied for a replacement card that will (supposedly) be mailed to us.   

(UPDATE:  the card has been received.  My husband lucked out because there was no way I was going back to that sad place.) 

Some interesting things that I learned this day:

  • The first attendant at the social security office openly admitted that the system says the cards are mailed out but there are often “errors” and they don’t get sent.  The government has no way to actually know if it was mailed or not…so someone could have received my child’s social security number.  But don’t worry!  She reassured me that it is a crime to open government mail not addressed to you.  Surely the criminals of the world will abide by that warning.
  • I would gladly put a little extra in the tax pot for us to hire another person to work at the DMV.  Those women don’t get a break and have to deal with our bad attitudes all day.
  • Garden and Gun is a lifesaver.  Highly recommend.  I cried during two articles and got to show some of the pretty pictures to a nearby toddler.  Shout out to Bradley for getting me a subscription!  They offer an internship program and it is probably full of young folk and is six months of basically unpaid work, but I am adding it to my bucket list that I should at least apply!
  • When my child acts up, I am adding this experience to the list of things that I can toss at him.  “I carried you in my womb for ten months!”  “I was in labor for over 24 hours!”  “I spent an entire soul crushing day at the DMV and social security office!”

Thank goodness this had a happy ending.  Now, we need to invest in a safety deposit box, because I never want to repeat this process.  Ever.

Who am I kidding? I would do it all again for him.

Pictures by Emily Whited of Sharon Elizabeth Photography – Hair by Kara Edwards. – Studio at Wharf Hill 

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