My day started with a shocking appointment at the Country Appraisal Agency where I had to go to contest the increase of the property tax on my parents’ house. I prepared a long and complicated negotiation strategy (just as I learnt in my half a semester negotiations class that I ended up dropping), dressed up to impress, and even put on full makeup. For a change, I showed up 10 minutes early to practice my speech and was surprisingly let in 5 mins early. To my amazement, before I even had a chance to open my mouth, the gentleman in front of me said that he likes to prepare in advance and he had already did some research on our case and thinks there is not reason to increase the taxes – appeal granted. 2 mins later I was on my way, still at disbelief at what had just happened.
The bad thing about government agencies, at least at this part of the world, is that they are located in the middle of no where (managed to get lost on the way and almost get to Houston), but the good thing is that are all located in the same remote ghetto area. I therefore decided to kill a few birds with the same stone and visit some other governmental offices.
My next stop was at the Social Security Administration where I went to replace my lost social security card. After my speedy morning appointment, I had very high expectations from our federal government as well. Alas, my hopes evaporated into thin air when I arrived at a crowded room full of people of a different socio-economic class. I was directed to take a number and pulled out a 96. “Great!” I thought to myself, “they must be on at least 94 right now”.. but when I looked at the board I saw the sad image of the number 46 looking at me. 50 more to go.. I had some time to look around and see if I can cluster people into groups as I always like to do. So there were the teenage moms + babies (about 5 or 6 sets), there were some immigrant looking people (maybe 10), older people (not too many), educated looking adults (again, not too many) and miscellaneous welfare recipients (came in various shapes and forms). I bet one could make a really awesome reality TV show about the lives of these people (I say for MTV!!). My favorite personas were the girl with the blue hair (and semi-blue ears because she didn’t do a very good job in coloring) and the bling bling lady with the giant heart tattoo on her arm. I think she must be very caring…
Almost an hour went by and I was about to fall asleep from watching elderly people dressed in star track costumes advertising getting retirement benefits online. But then the fairy godmother of social security offices appeared and called for all the people who need to get replacement cards to come to her. She then called another lady to help her with the processing and ten minutes later, all 20 of us were freed from the social security dungeon and let loose into the real world.
I’ve decided to get any possible document that the Brazilians may ask for and so my third visit was at the local department of public safety, where I requested my criminal record (or lack of thereof) and got fingerprinted just like a real criminal (ok, not really….). This place for a change, was also without a line. I think it’s because they don’t really publicize it and send you to other locations in even more remote areas. I only found out about it because I called their hot-line and listened to the end to the barrage of details followed by a very brief mentioning of “you can do all these 100 steps or you can just come to our locations at address such and such. Eh, sometimes patience pays off 🙂
Following such a long day with the lovely public servants I chose to wind down at the Spider House Cafe close to my former university campus. “Hippie vintage” is how I would describe it, and a perfect place to spend an afternoon. They have a really nice courtyard seating area but today was way too hot for taking advantage of it.
I also watched Gossip Girl today and must say I almost puked in my mouth. The only good things about this show were the makeup and nails and maybe the outfits of the characters. Between the flat dialog, the ridiculousness of 12 year old kids running business empires and the over-blunt product placement (a laptop with a windows logo on the front, really? I really struggled to figure out how will ever I get these 20 minutes of my life back. I do apologize to the fans of this show among my friends, but I really don’t get it.