Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Catch 22 or A Blog Rant. Enjoy. (Note: it's a long one.)

I may have mentioned that Kenny and I celebrated our seven year anniversary in June. Perhaps in direct retaliation to the rumored “7-Year Itch” I thought I’d finally take on his last name. You know, make it official or something. (*wink*)

No, truthfully being on maternity leave for four months finally presented the necessary time one needs to waste – I mean spend – in a government office to do this. Furthermore, with the baby…well, I thought it would be good if my name actually matched hers. (Also, it would have made for way less confusion at the hospital with visitors being denied because they didn’t know my legal, maiden name. But that’s another story.)

So I tried to change it.

I really did. Try being the operative word. However, my two-plus hours at the social security office bore little fruit in my effort and I’m sad to say that I remain Jill Nielsen (contrary to the still erroneous title of this blog). This is no longer due to a lack of effort; rather it’s because - this is a shocker - our government has concocted a procedure that makes it all but impossible for me to accomplish what should be an easy and routine thing. I know. It’s hard to believe.

On this particular day, the Social Security office wasn’t particularly crowded and the front office was adequately staffed. So that wasn’t the problem. Also, having spent my share of time in the DMV, I was prepared for a wait even with these seemingly favorable conditions. My baby was home sleeping, I was well fed and rested, and I had a good book with me. So the hour plus it took for a clerk to see me, while seemingly totally inefficient and unnecessary, wasn’t totally horrible.

No the real problem was that the procedure of changing one’s name (when one has been married for over two years), as explained to be by the geniuses our government likes to employ in these offices is essentially impossible. As the clerk explained it to me again (at my request, to make sure I was understanding), I grew increasingly dumbfounded. When she finished I just stared. “You realize that the procedure your explaining makes what I’m asking to do essentially impossible, right?” She smiled and cocked her head to the side and actually said these words, verbatim, “I know…it’s kind of a Catch 22.”

I’m not joking.

And there you have it people. Our government employee admitted that their own policy was inherently flawed. This admission is the only consolation I received from this ordeal. To be clear, let’s turn to the ever trusty Wikipedia to define Heller’s dreaded “Catch 22:”

“Among other things, Catch-22 is a general critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning. Resulting from its specific use in the book [Catch 22, by Heller], the phrase "Catch-22" is common idiomatic usage meaning "a no-win situation" or "a double bind" of any type.”

The condensed version of the procedure is as follows: because I have been married over two years I have to first obtain identification bearing the name I plan to change my name to and then bring said identification into the SS office to legally change my name. I’m not mistaken. I had her explain it to me several times and I repeated it back to her. I even asked her if she realized that I can’t legally obtain an identification under a name by which I cannot legally call myself…that the social security office is where I am to obtain said name. She nodded and shrugged and again used the dreaded “catch 22” excuse.

And there you have it.

I’m exhausted just writing it, as I’m sure you are reading (for those of you who actually made this far). I'm sorry.

So you’ll now excuse me as I go pop some heavy dosage ibuprofen for the headache I developed in recounting this sad tale and take a nap under my desk.


Elise said...

Not fun. I try to avoid all government agencies at all costs. Good luck.

Emily said...

Wow. That is beyond ridiculous. If I had been in that situation I don't know if I would have been able to keep my cool. Props

Sarah said...

It took me three years to change my name after I got married. I actually only added Ben's name and kept my last name as a my middle name. I don't know if that made a difference but my experience was actually favorable. Maybe you might want to try a new social security office. I went to the one in mission viejo. Good luck!

Ashley said...

How awful is this experience! I was just having a conversation about name changes with my mom. Since I am getting married outta the country, I wonder what "catches" I need to look out for!

Lady Wordsmith said...

Well, that's just plain stupid! We do not have to go through that kind of palaver here (in the UK), anyone can change their name to anything at any time (as far as I'm aware, though I've never tried).

So sorry your efforts were fruitless.

I have a different surname to my three sons though, and it's all cool (my partner and I are together, just not married).

Melissa said...

K that is the dumbest thing ever! I hate going to the DMV and Social Security office (and any other government office for that matter.) They always put me in a bad mood...and to just be told that you can't change your name in the end...well, that sucks.

Shanna Nemrow said...

I'm sorry.....so.flippin.frustrating.

And it just makes me look forward to going to DMV tomorrow THAT much more. I was informed that since I haven't renewed my license in person yet, I have the honor of going down to DMV, waiting for who knows how long, and getting frustrated out of my mind to renew my license. Yipee.

Justin + kelly said...

Are you serious?? Thats just ridiculous! What are you going to do??!

heather said...

what about your marriage license? does that have you down as "Jill Brady?" Does that count as a form of ID?

Tyler Jorgenson said...

Who is John Galt?

Marty J. Christopher said...

I just read your comment on A Cup of Jo, and then read your blog post. What a nightmare! I linked your blog entry to my most recent post. Feel free to stop by and have a look!