Saturday, July 4, 2009

Carl, the Neighborhood Alligator, & How I Accidentally Ended up at the Social Security Office in Florida

Moving is irksome. But for us, it was particularly adventurous because we had to drive 19 hours across the country at 45 miles an hour in a Penske truck with 5 animals.  We took 2 days to complete our move to Florida, and along the way we stopped at a Best Western that promised it took pets.  I'm not sure it knew what it was getting with the Tillmans.  We had Brinkley, the 75 lb Golden Retriever, Sierra, a dog half his size, and 3 devil cats, one of which found great amusement in waiting on top of the entertainment center for a dog to walk by to drop claws-first on its back, making the dog bark, the other dog howl, and the rest of the cats hiss, spit, and knock over furniture.  We were tired.  The front desk calls.  "Do you have cats, too? You didn't say you had cats too."  I lie. "Nope, no cats here." Worm gets next to the phone and answers for himself: Mrrrrrow. Mrow! Mrowwwww!  "Nope," I reiterate. "We don't like cats." 

We get on the road and arrive in Florida what feels like 3 years later.  As we drive into our subdivision, I pass all kinds of interesting creatures: an ibis, something that lives in a nest the size of an SUV, colorful lizards and frogs, and, yes, an alligator, sunning in the lake not 2 blocks from my house.  People pass him as if he is a mailbox. We name him Carl. 

For mundane reasons I won't explain, we have to get our licenses changed over quickly and it is one of the first tasks we undertake.  I wish we hadn't.  I go to the DMV with an appointment, all of my paperwork filled out, and a box full of every piece of paper they might ask for and some they won't.  I'm ultra-prepared. I'm psyched; I'm there early and there's no wait!  Andrew breezes through the process and I prepare to as well, but there's a woman who has it out for me that day.  "The social security office says June 1 isn't your birthday," she says.  She seems almost happy to follow up with, "You'll have to go there to straighten that out."  "No!" I say. "I've ordered a passport with that card; there has to be a mistake on this end."  "Nope," she insists and sends me to the 9th circle of hell. 

If you were wondering what that is -- it's the social security office in the Old People Capital of the US.  Hours of waiting. By the time my number is called, I'm furious.  The woman behind the counter pulls up my record and says, "There's no problem here. Everything is correct."  I want to stab someone in the eye.  I drive 1/2 an hour back to the DMV, where a new guy pulls my SS# up on the screen and says, "Why did you go through all of that? Your birthdate was fine all along!"  

Andrew, thinking himself immune from this insanity, inwardly chuckled at me, I'm sure of it.  At least, he does until we get all the way home, and he finds out his new name in FL is "Andrew Tllman." A big ugly misprint on his shiny new license.   I love moving. 


The Medievalist said...

Moving is like having a freaking fire--on purpose. Moving from Minnesota to Waco was a total nightmare, especially when it came to getting licenses and new vehicle tags. Total nightmare. Give my regards to Carl.

reemergent said...

Okay, this is just a fantastically written blog. You should be writing a sitcom or something. Have the alligator get into a scrap with your big dog as a subplot and the DMV episode becomes the stuff of legend. I'd watch.

(Of course, to get on TV right now there'd need to be a vampire in it somehow. Did the DMV lady look a little pale to you?)