There are no chairs in the hallway outside the Social Security/Medicare office on Chicago’s northwest side. Nevertheless, arriving well before the office opens has benefits; standing for the better part of an hour is a small price to pay for those hoping to get necessary business completed so they can get on with their day.
I was fifth in line on Friday, getting there about an hour before the 9am opening. Very quickly, I got to discuss my Medicare issues with an expert.
I had needlessly dreaded this visit. The woman assisting me, who wore a badge reading “Mrs. McGinley,” could not have been farther removed from the stereotype of the uncaring civil servant. Our conversation lasted about 20 minutes and, when it was over, I understood all I needed to know about my Medicare benefits and costs.
She helped me immensely and efficiently. I was and am grateful.
Since President Trump forced the federal government “shutdown” on Friday night, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mrs. McGinley. I’ve read comments online about the affected federal employees; “They’ll eventually get their money” “This is no big deal,” etc…
It’s certainly a big deal for civil servants who, at Christmas, unexpectedly will have their paychecks delayed. It’s interesting to note that, though this political theater is supposedly due to Trump’s strong feelings about border security, 54,000 border protection agents will be working for free over Christmas.
What did these public servants do to deserve this disrespect, this uncertainty?
Not a damn thing.
Because our hopelessly corrupt President seeks to distract us from investigations and resignations, Mrs. McGinley and her colleagues are pawns in a game of “Look over there!”
The far right has done a masterful job of ratcheting up resentment of government employees, charging the workers with essentially stealing from taxpayers for advocating for reasonable pay and benefits in exchange for providing services we all need.
People like Mrs. McGinley seem to take it all in stride. While suggesting I follow-up my visit with a phone call to Medicare she added, under her breath, “If there’s anyone answering the phone next week.”
But, once the shutdown ends, she and her two million federal colleagues will continue to answer the phone. They’ll do it because it’s their job to help us, whether we appreciate them or not.
Thank you, Mrs. McGinley. And Merry Christmas.
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