Update--Regarding My Name Change and Trip to the SS Office


Once I had made my final decision to forgo the legal name change and just stick with my original first and middle name (which I wrote about here), it was time to head to my local Social Security office.

After talking to a few people who had made the trip, I realized that it would be in my best interest to arrive as early as possible. The office opened at 9 a.m., so I planned to be there somewhere between 8:30 and 8:45. I was nervous all the way there because I wasn't completely sure what sort of information I needed and didn't want to be denied a name change because I had forgotten a certain important form. 

When I arrived, there was already a line. I waited for my turn to be ushered through the glass doors by a security guard wearing a brown uniform and displaying two guns--one holstered on each hip.

I walked through a metal detector and had my purse inspected by a different guard, who literally looked in every pocket. He even took the book I had brought and leafed through it, as though I might be hiding a weapon between the pages. 

After that was over, I took a number and sat down. The rectangular room was a bland beige color, and there was a large TV screen mounted on each end that flashed a number every so often to show which person was being helped. I continued to get more and more nervous for the next 25 minutes as the numbers counted slowly up toward mine--N394. 

When my number was called, I made my way over to the counter and was greeted by a plump lady with short blonde hair. I noticed an American flag pin attached to her blue blouse.

"What do you need?" she asked.
"I got married and need to change my name."
"Ah yes. Okay, I need to see your marriage license."

I took a deep breath and handed it over. 
She glance at it and then asked me for my social security number.
I leaned forward and repeated the number in as close to a whisper as I could without her thinking I was being paranoid. But I mean really, what a perfect place to steal identities. Just hang around the SS office all day and write down people's numbers. (No, I'm not a conspiracy theorist; I'm just suspicious.)

After she typed in my number, she looked at me and said, "Mkay, I'm going to ask you some questions now. What's your birthday?"

Easy enough, right? Wrong. I instantly started sweating. I could feel my brain trying to connect the dots, becoming frustrated because my answer wasn't coming quickly enough. 

"July seven... No, July tenth. Nineteen eighty... six."
Wow, you're dumb. Can't even remember your own birthday. That's what inner me said in a mocking tone. (Inner me is rather mean sometimes.)

To be fair, my birthday is July 10, 1986. Jordan's is July 17, 1985. They can be easily confused, especially when you're being interrogated by the United States government. 

"Hmm," she said, peering at me over invisible spectacles. "Where were you born?"
"Winona Lake, Indiana."
She paused and leaned closer to her computer screen before turning back to me. "Nope. That's not right."
"That's not what it says. It starts with a W, if that helps."
"Winona Lake," I repeated stupidly. 
"No," she said again. Then she paused and peered at me again. "It's one word."
Think! Think!
But I came up with nothing other than Winona, and I didn't want to embarrass myself more by idiotically continuing to repeat the same town name over and over. 
"I, I don't... I don't know," I said helplessly, resisting the urge to wipe the sweat that was trickling down the back of my neck. "I don't know. I only lived in Indiana for two years. My parents only ever told me Winona Lake."

She sighed heavily. "Warsaw."
"Oh. Well, thanks. I'm sorry. I really didn't know that."
"I'm going to need to ask you more questions," she said, turning back to the computer. "What's your mother's maiden name?"

This time the answer came sooner.
"What's your father's name?"

Again, I was able to give a quick response, which was apparently satisfactory, because she printed out a piece of paper and handed it to me along with a pen. 
"Sign your new name here. Your number will remain the same. We'll mail you a new SS card in about a week."
"That's all I need?" I asked, encouraged by the prospect of getting to go home and take a shower.
"That's it. You're all set."

I got up and wove my way through the crowd to the glass doors. It was 10:26. (I know this because I called my mom on the way out to ask why she'd lied to me about where I was born. ["Winona Lake was the city you were born in," she told me between bursts of laughter."Warsaw was the town."])

And then, thankfully, it was over. 

I wasn't nervous anymore, I now knew where I was born, and, most importantly, I was officially (and legally) a Bumgarner. There's no going back now. If for no other reason than I never again want to make a trip to the social security office. That place messes with your mind.

Anonymous said...

WTF? I'd freak out too if some government lady told me that I wasn't born in the place I'd always been told I was born. Sheesh. That WOULD be a palm sweater. Is that a phrase? I feel like it's not. Oh well. It is now. Way to power through, man. I did laugh about the birthday thing...until you explained the similarity thing with Jordan. Understandable mix-up. Not that SHE knew that. Haha.


Amy Nielson said...

hahaha, i think this is hilarious! i love that you felt interrogated... as if you were in some sort of trouble or something?? you're funny. glad it all worked out in the end ;)