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Making it legal

I am now what some people genteelly refer to as “a woman of a certain age.” It seems my salad days are over and I’m well into my entrée. On the upside, I qualify for Canada Pension this year, and to that end, I decided to go online and get the straight poop about how one goes about freeing up said funds. To my dismay, the web site wouldn’t accept my Social Insurance Number. I tried a number of times (never having believed in that particular definition of insanity) only to be denied each time.

“Government web sites,” I muttered. “Should have known better than to expect they’d actually want to give me my money.” Then I checked the error message: “This data does not correspond with the data we have on record.”

Huh. Weird.

So they have some data about me in their files, but it doesn’t mesh with what I just inputted. I was about to enter my number again when my eye just happened to drift down to the name on the card. Oh crimenie!

“Pa,” I said, grabbing my coat and heading for the back door, “hitch up the team. We’re going to the big city.”

“What for?” he asked, looking up from his crossword.

“I need a new SIN.”

He pondered that a mo.

“What’s wrong with your old sins?”

I took a moment to compose myself.

“Not ‘sins” but SIN, as in Social Insurance Number.”

“OK. What’s wrong with your old Social Insurance Number?”

I started fiddling with my buttons.

“Well, the name is wrong.”

“Whose name is on it?”

“Well…”

“Yeah, you said that already.”

“It’s my name, it’s just not my name now.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning it’s still in my maiden name.”

He capped his pen and laid it across his book.

“Missus, how long we been married?”

“Oh, here we go!”

“How long?”

“Twenty-five years.”

He nodded. “Twenty-five year.” (I hate it when he starts dropping the ‘s’ from the end of words. Makes him sound like a ninety year old geezer spittin’ and whittlin’ while he rocks on the front porch.)

“Twenty-five year. And for all that time you’ve been pretending you’re still single.”

I nailed him with a steely glare.

“Don’t put ideas into my head, Pa. Besides, I didn’t set out to deceive anyone. I didn’t go back to work until five years after we were married and by then I’d forgotten about changing my SIN.”

He shook his head, gravely disappointed.

“And what a sin it is.”

“Oh stop! We can go into the city and get this taken care of today. And I’ll thank you to keep any further commentary to yourself.”

Unsure of the best route to City Hall, I googled the directions and checked into nearby parking. There apparently was no shortage of parking, for a fee. We filled our pockets with coins and off we went.

Gotta hand it to Google – they did an great job with the directions this time. We had no trouble finding the building and as we drove around to the side, a sign brightly proclaimed, “Public Parking.” We couldn’t believe our luck! We were expecting meters or some such, but we drove into an excellent space right in front of the sidewalk. We thanked the Divine, as we always do for awesome parking spaces, especially free ones, then The Mister dashed around to open my door, took me by the arm and together we scampered into the building as quickly as possible to get out of the cold. The Mister left me in line to go find a chair in the waiting room. “Don’t forget to tell them it took you a quarter of a century to remember you’re married,” he said over his shoulder.

“One stroke of the pen,” I replied in a fierce whisper, “and that can all be changed, you know!”

The receptionist congratulated me on having all the necessary documents, as did the counsellor I saw a few minutes later. But when she started inputting my numbers, it was clear she’d run into difficulty.

“Huh,” she said.

More inputting.

“Huh.” Again.

Thinking I was being helpful, I told her I had the same problem trying to get the web site to accept my SIN in my married name.

“No, it’s not that. It’s your birth certificate. It’s really old.”

“I beg your pardon!”

“No, no. The certificate is old. They don’t make them like this now and I’m not sure how to….” She leaned back in her chair and asked her colleague in the next cubicle if she had ever seen a birth certificate like mine. Her friend responded, “Yeah, during training, but I was like ‘This is too much information!’ you know?”

She turned back with an apologetic smile. “Do you mind if I call my supervisor?”

“Not at all.”

After several minutes conversation regarding vacation plans, she finally asked for some guidance. I could hear the supervisor’s voice on the phone, but couldn’t make out her words, kind of like the voice of the teacher in the old Charlie Brown cartoons – “Wah, wah, wah.” The counsellor punch a few keys and replied, “No. Nothing.” More “wah, wah, wah,” more punching, then “No. Nothing.” Still more “wah, wah, wah” and more punching, and I’m thinking “Let me guess…” Sure enough. “No. Nothing.”

Another apologetic smile. “I’m sorry,” she said, “you’ll have to fill out the written form. Your birth certificate is really, well, special.”

I returned to the waiting room, sat down beside The Mister and said, “It’s heartwarming when the government thinks you’re special.”

There was another something special waiting for us when we returned to the car – a ticket.

“What? What on earth for? We’re not in a handicapped space. We were so careful about that!”

The Mister scanned the paper. “Says here we didn’t pay.”

“Didn’t pay for what?”

He stared out the windshield. “Parking,” he said.

“But it’s a public lot! There’s no fee for…” I checked over my shoulder.

“Oh for crying out loud.”

“There’s something bad back there, right?”

“Yup,” I replied. “Take a look.”

“No, I’m fine.”

“Pa…”

He turned around.

“Uh huh. A Pay and Display machine. How’d we miss it?”

“Well, we were in such a hurry to get inside for one thing, and, also, we thought ‘public’ meant…”

“…’free.'”

“We are such rubes.”

“Babes in the woods.”

“They should never have let us off the farm.”

“The farm? They should never have let us out of the cave.”

I took his hand. “Well, we made a mistake because we’re such innocents. We could be a lot worse things than that. And we learned a valuable lesson about the difference between public and free. So it cost us a few bucks…”

“Seventeen.”

“Seventeen! Geez Louise!” I caught my breath. “Aw, not to worry there, Pa. I’ll put that in the God box and the Divine will compensate us for it. She understands mistakes made in innocence. City Hall, on the other hand, not so much.”

Turns out, I never got a chance to put the ticket in the God box. The next day, thanks to The Mister’s savvy shopping skills, he came home with nearly thirty dollars in savings.

Compensated in full. And then some.

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3 Comments

  1. Heather Ferdinand
    Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    I just love reading about you misters escapades. I also had to smile as i imagined you both “scampering”. lol Did you ever get your new Sin Card?

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Heather! We do get ourselves in some situations. All grist for the mill when you’re a writer. :-)

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted February 14, 2015 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      And no, I haven’t gotten my SIN yet. It will be coming in the mail.

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