When I told my little tale of minor annoyance about having to get a new Social Security card a couple of weeks back (35 years I went without one, and the first time anyone asks me for it is when I find myself unemployed), some of my libertarian friends out there predictably pointed to it as a sign of the inefficiency and unaccountability of gummint. Which I expected, having handed you such a beautiful opportunity. (Don’t say I never gave you anything.)
But here’s the thing about that — it really didn’t take very long, and aside from the hassles from security guards, it all went pretty smoothly. My new SS card arrived in the mail sooner than expected. I gave it to Mamanem to put in a safe place.
Contrast that to my experience at my wireless phone provider, where I went to get my Blackberry wiped clean of stuff from the corporate server (how’s that for a band name: Corporate Server), and set up my new e-mail and such. An hour and a half. The young man who helped me couldn’t have been nicer (which is why I removed the actual name of my wireless provider, because I don’t want to get him in any trouble with his boss), and admittedly the transaction was somewhat complex. But what gets me is the wait before someone starts helping you. When I asked about whether there was a time I could come back and not find such a crowd, I was told there wasn’t. One employee mentioned that his wife calls the place “the DMV of wireless.” Which is a good joke, except for the fact that the DMV has figured out how to provide its services without making people wait forever. Maybe the cell phone companies should ask the DMV how they did it.