In my life, I have met some insane white people. I’ve had the great opportunity in my life to meet white people from a wide range of the spectrum of American whiteness, from the “General Mao was misunderstood” white progressives to the “Alex Jones is America’s greatest documentarian” white conservatives, and all the foggy whiteness between. Millennials, specifically, are an odd white bunch, because all of us have spent way too much time and money on college.
But one of the most curious of the squishy white bunch are the “Everyone Wants To Steal My Identity” folks. This is the type that have Googled “rescind my social security number?” multiple times on Google Chrome’s incognito tab. These are the type of white millennial who will only host their personal blog on the dark web. If you ask this type of white millennial what his favorite animal is, he’ll lie, just to cover his tracks.
You may be thinking: I’ve never met anyone like this! Well, there’s a reason for that. I mean, how can you be trusted, eh? You could be working for them, after all.
But this blog post is for all you real American weirdoes—ye anarcho-libertarians, ye off-the-gridders, ye vaccination-is-a-form-of-mind-controllers.
You’re right. You’re right about at least one thing.
Government agencies are horrible. Or at least the buildings that house them are horrible.
I say this because I have visited two such agencies this week. Yesterday, I went to the Circuit Court, and today I went to apply for Medicaid today. (For those of you on the right side of the White Millennial spectrum, for whom “Medicaid” is a trigger word, please close your browser window and go make yourself a pour-over and a panini). And let me tell you—these are not places that inspire hope. If I had to place them in an architectural style, I’d place it somewhere between the orphanage cafeteria in Oliver Twist and the inside of your mother-in-law’s underwear drawer. They’re musty, gray, formal in a very very bored way.
And people working for the government generally do not give a single fuck. But here’s the thing: they can’t give a single fuck. It’s a psychological fact, backed by incredible science. The room and the duties of the job literally prevent a human heart from giving the fuck needed to be happy at this type of job. I tried to daydream in the lobby and all I could think about were pencil erasers. Every time I tried to be cheerful a three-legged dog emerged from behind a wilting fern and whimpered across the floor.
If you expect good service at, say, the DMV, you are stupid. There is no other way to put it. Expecting good service at the DMV is like expecting an inmate to smile at you on his way to solitary. The next time you complain about bad service at the DMV, have a loved one kick you in the sternum. The effort required, day after day, to be cheerful while pushing paper in an under-staffed office that is painted like an abandoned rehab clinic would break a person’s soul in half. Listen, I know you would give %110, working always as unto the Lord, but some of us still have our brains connected to our hearts. Don’t be an idiot.
I applied for Medicaid today using a telephone that stank of spent Pall Malls. The agent on the line was reading off a script that gave these really marble-mouthed gender neutral sentences (“and the gender of you is?,” “and the gender of them is?,”). The wall of the room was decorated with warnings and disclaimers.
During the first 10 minutes of the call the guy could’ve been anyone. All the salt was out of his voice; he was reciting from a script, not speaking. I know this voice because this is some people’s voice. I talk to people at least once a week who have gone near-Autistic with the alienation of modern middle class life, who can’t look you in the idea because they’re trying to remember what to say when it comes their turn to speak.
At some point I cracked an inappropriate joke and he started laughing, and then I started laughing. All the sudden his words were full color, warm-blooded. We chatted for a minute, human to human. He told me I better remember my wife’s birthday, which I had just given to him. I commanded Google to remember it right there while we were on the phone and he laughed again.
It didn’t last long though. We went back to the script. I looked at the clock on my phone and got that mild panic feeling. I started worrying about the money I wasn’t making, the dreams I wasn’t fulfilling. I started wishing the day were over. A thought flashed in my head, as does with more and more frequency these days, that I could die right here in this plastic chair with the smell of old paper in my nose.
What is it that happens when we break script like that? What is the evolutionary explanation for how good that feeling felt? Is it somehow necessary for the survival of our species to be informal, to be irresponsible, vulgar?
To all you crazy anti-government people, who think your encrypted email and your cache of weapons will save you. Government agencies are indeed pretty bleak. But I doubt that burning up that paper trail is gonna get you away from all of your enemies.