Cloister Commentary, Day 167: Not All Bad

Continued from Day 166, the saga of Phil and
Jane and the SSA. I was determined to find an uncomplicated way to change Mom’s direct deposit info without an excruciating phone call leading to futility, so I a) decided to just drive down and visit her, partially because I suspected we’d need to be in the same room, on the same phone, b) thought I’d test the waters first, call Mom’s local SSA office, and, um, assertively ask about the best process to accomplish our lofty goal. The unfortunate agent who answered the phone had to listen to me tersely, then with rising volume, describe the whole story (I’m bad about set-ups), while she tried in vain to interrupt me. It was fun! However, when I finally stopped to take a breath, she interjected, “Sir, just let me call your mom directly and I’ll do this for her in a couple minutes. Call her and have her get the checkbooks together, and tell her I’ll ring her in 30 minutes!” Wait what? And she did just what she said. To paraphrase the title of a section of the news magazine The Week, it’s not all bad. What’s the lesson learned, Phil? My cousin Rob has told me twice but I imperfectly listened: always call your local SSA office first.

Still, I decided to drive down and see Mom. We had Mexican food and margaritas, and watched basketball and tennis. And we FaceTimed with Nicole. Tomorrow I will again contact the insurance company that, despite three calls from me, still haven’t sent me the accidental death paperwork they owe me from Dad’s policy (these calls have spanned over two months, so I’ve been patient), and possibly reference a lawyer. Also, as I thumb this out on my phone, I’m watching the morning news: the flood of human-issued sludge oozes unabated.

But…it’s not ALL bad. I hope I get a similarly smart, sweet, and efficient customer service agent today.

Streaming for Strivers:

A humble request. You have to listen to the title song to understand.

Cloister Commentary, Day 166: I’m Late

“Are you ever too busy to write these,” you might ask. Well, I always write about yesterdays on my todays, and today I’ve been ON IT since I woke up at 4:30ish. I just realized I hadn’t, ahem, journaled. I’m hanging out with my mom Jane and watching Bubble Playoffs, so I must be brief.

Yesterday started pretty well. I accomplished something easy but important at work: I emailed 12 freshmen at Stephens to check on their start (students can choose to attend classes in person or on-line, with all classes available in real time on Zoom), their comfort level (Stephens is taking our health pretty seriously, and only has two recorded cases so far), and their need for tutoring. Amazingly, almost all of them wrote me back quickly with quite a bit enthusiasm for school. I will contact them intermittently just to make sure they know they have academic (and moral) support.

Then I learned Mom was having no luck simply changing her direct deposit information with the Social Security Administration, a necessity since Dad passed. She was just looking for a way to help, as my brother Brian and I have divided up the massive and labyrinthine administrative issues that confront every family when someone passes. I jumped in to help her, but met with just as much frustration–to the extent that it drove me into a moody state for the rest of the day. I’m fairly sure Nicole would agree that’s a state I seldom visit. I escaped into books and two nail-biter playoff games, including one that sent my Thunder home. I rolled over to go to sleep at a little past 11 and stared at the wall for several minutes, before, fortunately, I crashed.

To be continued.

Streaming for Survivors:

How I felt after setting up a “My Social Security” profile for Mom to no avail. Play loud.