Wednesday, January 15, 2014

There's Bureaucracy Here Too -- both Public and Private

I often see complaints from those that live in Central Europe about the left over communist/socialist bureaucracy. Well, it's alive and well in the United States too.

I needed to change my postal address with the Social Security office. I tried several times to do this online without any luck. So since the office is only about 10 minute walk away I decided to just walk there yesterday. 

I also needed to start exploring how to get around in Saint Paul skyway system, too. 

I haven't been using the skyway much since leaving a job located in the downtown area about 12 years ago. I figured some things may have changed.

For those who live elsewhere, a skyway, as pictured above, is a way to move through the whole city center without going outside. The skyway usually is on the 2nd level, in some buildings on the 3rd level. I walked 2 blocks -- the building where I live is not connected to the skyway -- and entered in a parking ramp (called a parking garage in most other parts of the United States) where I used to park. Yes, this skyway works. I found some things the same as I walked and other things new. I ended up near a restaurant where I'm meeting for lunch tomorrow.

Then I walked outside about one block to the Social Security office. From a kiosk I took a number and waited my turn. When I was able to work with a clerk, I told him I simply wanted to change my postal address. He told me I had to wait again for someone else to help me.

After about 10 minutes, I was called and taken to a station where there were two computer monitors. There is no way to change one's postal address except by creating a My Account with Social Security and then changing the profile.

So we started on the My Account process, and predictably we got stuck. The person helping me disappeared for about five minutes and then came back to enter an authentication code. Don't know why I wasn't "authentic." After that we got it done easily. Hope I don't have to do this again any time soon.

So then it was outside and across the street and back into the skyway. As I started back to my apartment I discovered there wasn't any line at all at the Four Inns Restaurant.

I used to eat lunch here when I worked in the downtown area. The last time I walked by this restaurant the line was at least 20 people long -- no line today, Hurrah!

The food is good Midwestern dishes. I simply had a grilled cheese sandwich and a Diet Coke. The service is always excellent.

The decor is maybe a bit 1970s.
 Then down the skyway to parking ramp, down on the elevator to the street and two blocks back home.

Just another day with bureaucracy!

But before I close, maybe Century Link actually wins the bureaucracy prize. Dealing with that company during my move was full of useless phone calls -- useless because they would tell me at the end of October to call back in December. I wondered why a company such as this doesn't have a computer system that can remember anything.

The service for Internet and Direct TV were both discontinued on December 16. I received the mailing label for returning the modem and did that on December 27, but Century Link still sent me a paperbill for another month of service for both Internet for February 2014!!!. I put that bill in the recycling!!! Then a bill for the coming month for both internet and Direct TV arrived in my electronic account with my credit union, so I deleted Century Link as a payee on my electronic account. Then today I get an e-mail from Century Link saying they can no longer electronic bill me! But I still haven't received the shipping label for the satellite receiver so I suppose I have to tackle this company once again.

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