#164 So Sorry

by Ellen Strickler

He wondered what it must be like to possess so much power. She was pleasant enough but after waiting three hours he couldn’t be objective on the matter. She sat at her computer periodically swiveling her chair to glance at him. He relayed the events omitting the crucial, humanizing elements, like how eviscerating it was to stand at the grocery store check-out line with his daughter on his hip, have the card declined, affirm to the clerk multiple times that there was a mistake, that there was plenty of money as he had just had a paycheck deposited. Or how he sleeplessly lay there that night awaiting the next morning when he would go to the bank and upon his arrival being told that he would have to speak with the IRS directly, but being unable to contact them immediately because he had already been late for work due to the morning’s bank visit. He had waited on hold for twenty minutes during lunch, but only had a total of thirty minutes and couldn’t wait any longer. He detached himself in a mental cocoon of self-protection as he answered her questions: name, date of birth, and social security number, the last of which she asked for twice. After which, she spun her chair around and leaned over with a beaming smile: “I am so sorry. It looks like we had your social security number wrong and we have you mistaken for someone else . . .”

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