Saturday, June 9, 2012

Red Tape

S and I got married two years ago, and well, I never really, officially changed my last name.  I was sort of dragging my feet about the whole name change thing mainly because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do.  Did I want to take my married name?  Did I want to keep my maiden name?  Did I want to hyphenate?  In the end, I just brushed it under the rug and did whatever I felt like doing.  So for the past two years I have been using three variations of last names.  Take it from me, that's not a good idea. It's become complicated and confusing.  So in an effort to stem the confusion, I bit the bullet and decided to legally take S's last name while keeping my maiden name as my middle name.  And, since S will be joining the FS in a few short weeks, it will make filling out government forms a bit less complicated.

So, on May 7th I went to the social security office in downtown Brooklyn to get a new social security card and legally change my name.  I had the forms filled out, I had my three forms of ID to prove that I was who I said I was, and I had my marriage paperwork proving that I was in fact married and that--oh crap!  No. No, I didn't have my marriage documents.  I had stupidly left them at home on the dining room table.  I quickly called S who luckily was just walking out the door for work and begged him to bring them to me.  He graciously did and all was okay.  Except it wasn't. 

You see, S and I were married in Greece and because of that, we were required to have all official marriage documents translated in both Greek and English.  I took care of that before we left for the wedding and again when we returned.  When I presented the Greek and English documents to the lady at the SS office, she hesitated.  Then she walked away only to return 10 minutes later and explain that my translated documents may not be accepted, but she would submit everything and I would hear back within two to four weeks. 

I considered that the natural protocol for these sorts of things and walked out of the office satisfied.  But when two weeks, then three, then five passed without hearing anything from them, I decided to give them a call. 

I called the main SS office first and after waiting on hold for 15 minutes, spoke with a friendly gentleman who confirmed that yes, my paperwork had been turned in, but that it hadn't been processed.  Say what??

He recommended that I call the local Brooklyn office directly, and he gave me the number.  I called them and after being transferred a few times, I waited on hold for another 20 minutes before someone picked up to inform me that I had dialed the wrong office.  I had been given the number to a local field office in Queens.  Just great.

So I asked to be transferred to the correct office where, of course, I was forced to wait on hold a third time.  Just when I thought all hope was lost, a very friendly woman picked up the phone and actually offered some help.  She told me that their office does not accept documents that were translated by an outside source, so mine would have to be translated in-house.  I asked how long that typically takes and she said two to four weeks.  When I explained that it had been five weeks since I submitted the paperwork, she was surprised.  She promptly put me on hold while she spoke with her supervisor.  

As it turns out, my paperwork required signatures from the translating supervisor, (or something like that) before being sent to the translator.  Well guess what?  She never signed them.  My documents have been sitting on her desk for FIVE WEEKS collecting dust.  But since this sweet lady on the phone could feel my anger and frustration permeating through the receiver, she took action and got the supervisor to sign off on it right then and there. 

I thanked her profusely, and she even gave me her direct number in case I wanted to call and follow up next week.  And yes I will be following up, don't you worry. 

After all that, I still have to wait another two to four weeks for the translation, thus another 4-6 weeks for a new social security card, which will ultimately delay me getting a new passport and driver's license. *sigh*  But at least it's getting taken care of now.  I mean, it could be worse, right?  *sigh*

Consider this a lesson learned.  Don't get married in a foreign country.  Kidding!  If we had it to do all over again, we would.  Red tape included. 

Look at those two lovebirds.

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