Monday, August 3, 2009

A Matter of Social Security

Earlier today I went to the Social Security office in Downtown Atlanta. The office is housed in the Peachtree-Summit Federal Building that contains other government-type offices. Because of this, the security for the building is fairly heavy.

As is required in airports, visitors have to walk through a metal detector before entering. Before you get to go through this however, you need to sign in. This is where I met the coolest guy of the day.

“Step over here to sign in and get out your IDs,” he said, standing perfectly straight. This man is probably in his late 20’s and seems to be really excited to hold a position of, albeit minor, power.

“I left my ID in my car,” a woman said as I held my driver’s license in front of me like a child offering oats to a horse.

“You what?” He couldn’t believe she didn’t bring her ID in order to enter the building. Hadn’t she ever been to a grocery store, bank, or a friend’s house where you are also required to have picture identification to enter?

“It’s in my car.”

“Well here’s what I’m going to do,” he leans over the table, placing his arms a few inches from my outstretched hand containing exactly what he wanted. However, someone was challenging his power now. He had more important matters to attend to. “I’ll let you go through if you promise to wait afterwards. I don’t want you to take off to the 26th floor without my knowing. You know why?”

The woman stared at him with an indignant look on her face. She obviously wasn’t impressed by his ironed shirt and fifty cent badge.

“You know why?” he reiterated. “Because I’m going to find you.” A slight smile grows across his face as he imagines how great it would be to take down a evil-doer. First I’m going to yell halt, then I’ll run up to her telling her not to move. I’ll tackle her and handcuff, wait, I mean tie her hands with this piece of plastic while everyone around me cheers and the women try to kiss me. I will walk on, though, the bad guy needs to be incarcerated.

At this point I look around me to see if anyone else is witnessing this idiot. There’s an elderly couple to my right which are not laughing or looking around for “wtf” eye-contact like I am. They either buy this man’s tough-talk or are too polite to laugh at his face. I, however, am neither of these. I grin as I watch the security guard puff his chest and bathe in his own self-importance.

“Just sign your name over here, show your ID, and head through there,” he says, pointing to the metal detector. The woman from before starts walking towards the metal detector. “No! Not you! You need an ID!” I thought he told her before that she could go through without him, but his convoluted directions seemed to have confused even himself. The girl laughs as she walks back to where she was standing before.

After holding my ID out to the man for a few minutes he finally takes it and tells me to move on without even looking at it.

His final words of wisdom as the elderly couple and I walk towards the metal detector. “Move along expeditiously and the line will move quicker.”

First of all, I think he made a guess and got lucky that expeditiously is even a word. Second, he basically said that if you move quicker you will go quicker. Right.

I’ve gone through quite a few metal detectors but I’ve never been asked to take off my belt to pass through. I could understand if they made you take your belt off if you had a giant belt buckle that you could possibly hide something in. But they were making everybody take off their belts even if they had the simplest style of belt buckle.

I understand that it’s a government building and that those buildings get the highest level of security. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be funny and/or ridiculous. I haven’t been on a plane since 9/11 (Remember the terrorist attacks on New York City? Just Google 9/11 and you should probably be able to find some info) which may make me a little less accustomed to how crazy things have gotten.

Regardless, taking off your belt is funny and that high-on-power-even-though-he-has-none security guard is also funny.

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