I recently stopped by the local Social Security Office to see, at age 68, whether things had changed to such an extent that I should switch from drawing my late wife Diane’s social security to drawing my own.
I worked in another county, where, as county employees, we always said :”There they go again, the commissioners are balancing the budget on the backs of the county employees!” One commissioner always voted against our raise, but left a pile of his self- raised cantaloupes in the employee lounge at harvest time, as if “in lieu” of a raise (gosh, a fresh, locally-grown cantaloupe would taste great right now, but they’re not in season; and the grocery store ones come “from God knows where!”(and they’re tough).
The nice lady at the Social Security Office gave me a printout showing my Social Security had begun passing that of my late teacher-wife’s some months ago. I said I would give my decision a few days ,always being cautious of change, even if beneficial (I am a Presbyterian).
The armed security guard is very amiable, his state of “armedness” making me feel another kind of “social” security! His friendly charm alone has “disarmed” some people of some of their disgruntledness about perceived benefit amounts.
I told him my particulars, and he said if it was more beneficial to switch, then do it, adding: “For we are not promised a certain number of days upon the earth!” I then almost imagined his security uniform shirt collar morphing into that kind of “uniform-collar” sported by the late Pastor Floyd W. Bost, my Confirmation minister at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church.
Succumbing to the desire to mix in a little “luck” with religion, I then knocked upon what I thought was wood amidst the waiting room’s sheet rock, plastic-metal chairs, and linoleum, only to be told by the guard that it was “faux.”
As to my social security, I slept on it (as well as an old man can sleep), and several days later headed down the road to”make the switch.” I passed by a wrecked car attended by two fire trucks, two ambulances, and three police cars. I thought: “So much response!” (but better too much, than not enough; and they know their job better than I).
I later passed an immense cemetery that I’d passed before ( thinking about it differently on this passing). The extensive cemetery reflects the “rolling” geography of Piedmont Virginia (at the southern state line, of course, becoming “Piedmont North Carolina”).The monuments and mausolea , marching (statically) up and down in that rolling topography, seemed to be giving a frozen “wave” (lacking the sporting event’s emotion and animation). Thinking again about my “woody” superstition, I realized that there’s nary (colloquial) a tree in that great cemetery for one to give a superstitious “knock.” Within the “arboreal paradise” of Salisbury’s Chestnut Hill Cemetery, there is a plethora of growing wood upon which to give a fortuitous “rap”( in a place where thoughts of life’s uncertainty preoccupies the mind).
At the Social security Office, they gave me an appointment to come back to sit and discuss, as they said it would take more than just a quick computer “click.”
On the way back home, by chance, I followed a hearse; and reaching the site of the earlier traffic accident, saw a “dead” vehicle being towed. I thought to myself: this battered car is, for the moment, without need of an odometer, as those in the graveyard are without need of a pedometer (but faith tells us their situation is “only for the moment” too!).
Ending with thoughts again about the fortuitousness of having wood at hand for good luck, I must tell you that I’ve written the rough draft of today’s “senior-timely”column with a traditional (not mechanical) lead (graphite) pencil. And considering a lead pencil’s traditional “casing,” all the while of this writing, I’ve not just given my pencil a lucky tap, but heartily clutched it!