I’ll blame it on my advancing years, but the first week in September I stopped at the Retired Activities Office or RAO down in the Barrio here in Olongapo City and picked up my US Mail. Since I was on my way to lunch with friends I tossed it into the back seat of my New Old Honda circa 1996. Lunch was great, Fish and Chip’s with British Malt Vinegar, good company and telling sea stories of long past glories. The ladies went off to get their nails done and left us gentlemen there to consume adult beverages after eating. That day I was in the mood for Boat Drinks (Any drink that includes Rum).
The ladies returned and proceeded to provide valid reason why we guys should depart the watering hole and head for home. I prefer to believe that Mayang was just in the mood to drive the car. We arrived at the house and a pleasant day had come to an end. I partook of a two hour battle nap, and awoke and played with my grandson Jayden for awhile and totally forgot the mail still in the car.
In this pile of important stateside correspondence was a letter from the Social Security Administration, clearly marked “IMPORTANT”, I had no way of knowing this, as I hadn’t even found it yet, let alone read it. Yes it was still in the car, and had fallen under the driver’s seat. While cleaning the car a week later, it was discovered and I opened it post haste. Where I discovered that some self important bureaucrat wanted to know where I lived. Because my address is a military address assigned to the RAO there in the Barrio. Many questions: 1. Are you a US Citizen? 2. Where do you reside, Country and Street address? How long have you lived at that address? And so on.
I thought it had something to do with Medicare which although I can’t use it here in the Philippines I still have to have it, its a matter of law. (Military TriCare is invalid without also having Medicare). Okay. I’ll fill it out and return it. But that was during the last week of September before I got around to it. Hey it’s the government, they take their time, and I’ll take mine. I then put it out of my mind and continued my trip down life’s interesting path. I finally did mail it.
But wait, it’s now time for October to rear its ugly head, and I’m sitting at the Puter posting my monthly stipends from those that I’ve earned my pensions from and after checking online with the Navy Federal Credit Union (The largest Credit Union on Earth) I noted that this being the third of the month, my SSA check, was not where it should be the 3rd is the day it’s due, so it should be in my account that day! Whoa Nellie; could it be because of that letter that I was so tardy in replying to? Could my government be punishing me? But the shocking question was; “Could the Social Security Administration really be operating in such a timely manner? But whatever the reason, I knew I had to take action, so I sent an E-mail to the SSA Office* attached to the Embassy in beautiful downtown Mega Manila, informing them of my plight.
Thirty (30) minutes later I received an answer back that they had received my request and would take prompt action when the SSA Office in the states opened the next morning. This got to me on many levels, the first being the quick response. The second being that I now understood that the 3rd of October here is the 2nd of October in the land free and home of the brave. Wow Malic! Did I make a joke on myself; do I have egg on my face? What a dummy I was. There I was slithering away while eating crow as I felt badly.
I thought back to what would be said in the U.S. Navy under similar circumstances; and that would be a loud shout by my shipmates saying; “Feel Cheap Senior Chief?” I’ll take it like a man, and eat my humble pie.
The following morning, I received another E-Mail from my Embassy (Still in Mega Manila) that explained that after researching my query that my funds had been deposited to my account.
Owning up to my mistakes as I’d been taught by my parents I informed the nice lady at the SSA Office in Mega Manila that I was sorry for wasting her time but I also thanked her for her quick response and helpful attitude and I copied the Ambassador’s Office.
Last week Jenny from the Embassy e-mailed me to thank me, as she received a letter of appreciation from the Ambassador’s Office. She is the type of person we dream about when we have to deal with any bureaucracy, anywhere.
Now that I realize again the function of the International Date Line, and where I am in relation to it, I hope this will never happen again. And the really sad part is I can’t count the number of times I’ve sailed across it (Both ways) in the last forty years; one would think that if anyone could than I should be able to figure it out. But if it does ever happen again, I know who to contact, and that super employee Jenny, will take swift action once again.
I’ll enclose this information in case someone else has a Major Brain Fart as I did!
* Social Security Administration Division
United States Embassy
1131 Roxas Blvd., Ermita
0930 Manila, Philippines
Phone: (632) 301-2000
Fax: (632) 522-1514
Paul Thompson; Resides in the Philippines, close to Subic Bay. He is married to the wonderful girl named Maria (AKA Mayang). Our to daughters are both grown up and have left the nest, the eldest married to a wonderful guy named Chris, and they have blessed us with our granddaughter Heather Colleen (AKA Ling-ling). Our youngest is living in Singapore, enjoying her life's adventure. I'm a retired Senior Chief from the U.S. Navy after 21 years. Post Navy he lived 7 years in Puerto Rico as a Night Club owner. After Hurricane Hugo told him to find a new line of work, he was hired by Military Sealift Command and went back to sea in Asia as a Merchant Seaman for 10 years. Then after 30 years at sea he buried his anchor in the Philippines residing now in Dinalupihan (or DinBat for short), Roosevelt Bataan where he build his home. And last but not least, anything he writes will be pure "Tongue in Cheek" if anybody is offended, He'll lose no sleep over it, but here's a quick Mea Culpa in advance!