This isn't a political piece. It's a personal one.
This summer, my family moved from North Carolina to New York, upstate, not near the City. the population here isn't huge - nothing like small town, but not huge. What surprises me is that various government functions I'm used to being a royal pain in the ass simply aren't. People are friendly, competent, helpful.
Snow plows. I've lived in areas with snow before, including northwest central Indiana, but plowing was always hit or miss. Here, no sweat. This morning it's snowing and after I get the kids to school it's accumulating. I live up a long hill (1.6 miles, 300' ascent), it's a bit slippery going up and I'm worried that the school buses are going to have problems in a few hours when school closes. Nope. By the time I head down the hill to take my wife to lunch, my neoghborhood's been plowed and salted again. On my hill we wondered if we'd need all wheel drive. No. Plowing is too good. It's like living in Germany or something.
Last week I needed to deal with the DMV. We live just short of half an hour west of the biggest local city, which puts us barely into another county. That county seat is in a seriously cute little town on a river about twenty minutes west of here. So Friday I call the DMV. Second ring someone picks up. Not a machine, a person, who answers all my questions without putting me on hold. It's like calling someone's house. Later I go there. The waits are short and the people are friendly and helpful. The last time I was there the woman behind the counter gave me a good Italian restaurant recommendation. A little neighborhood place with cannoli to die for.
I have to get a Social Security card for an eighteen year old kid (daughter's boyfriend) with a birth certificate and no other ID - the high school doesn't use ID's - and his remote family is such that they have no idea what his number even is. He has no driver's license and needs the SS card to get one. The SS office, which is in the largest local city, would of course like to see his driver's license. If you follow this, you need a Social Security card to get a license but it helps to have a license to get a Social Security card. So yesterday I phone the SS office to see what I need to do. I go through the phone tree and the recording tells me in busy times I might have to wait fifteen minutes. In actuality, I wait about forty-five
seconds. I explain the situation and it turns out a transcript from the high school will do instead of school ID. I call the high school, the main office sends me to the guidance office, I say what I need. I'm asking if they want the name of the kid. No, they recognize my voice, they know I don't mean my daughter, and by the way the transcript is already printing and so is available for the kids to pick up before I come get them.
None of this stuff is taking any time.
Today I bring the kids to the Social Security office. In and out in twenty minutes
Without an appointment. The kids do it all at the window without me.
He'll have the card in less than a week.
I wonder if people who are from here have any idea how good they have it.