Yesterday, my wife and I were at the Social Security Office on 22nd and Valencia getting replacement cards. While waiting, there was an Asian woman (Chinese, I think) working there who was calling off numbers for service tickets, similar to the system they now have at the DMV. She was calling off "B393...B393..". This old Mexican guy sitting next to me, shows me his ticket that's marked with D393 and asks me,"Did she say B or D?". I said I didn't know but that he should go up there anyway since no one else is. So he saunters up to the window and she took care of him. After that, she starts calling out "B"396....B as in David!" Am I going crazy?
Later, this other cat sits next to me and we joke about the woman's pronunciation skills. He was in his early thirties and looked like some sort of South American futbol-playing hipster( I really have to find new word for 'hipster'). He tells me his name is Hamid and that he's from Afghanistan and that he's been here in the US for six months. He said he worked for the UN and then the US Army. He said that just seven months ago he was in Kandahar riding in a group of cars when the car behind his was stopped by Al Queda/Taliban fighters. The Afghans passengers inside were taken out and shot while the Americans passengers were spared. Apparently, he said, the Taliban doesn't dig on sell-outs. After that, he told me he had been holed up in his apartment for weeks while receiving death threats.
Luckily, he had a visa that he acquired while he was an engaged to an American women. She jilted him in the mean time and married some one else, but the visa was still valid and that's all that was important, so he hopped a plane and made his way to the US. He told me he has lots of uncles here in the Bay Area but that they were all assholes so he's been managing on his own, working under the table and burning through his savings account. Recently, he was offered a computer engineering job and so he needed to get a tax ID at the social security office. His visa was running out but he'd applied for political asylum because he most certainly will be killed if he returns to Afghanistan.
I felt for Hamid because I had watched a segment on "60 Minutes" about how all these Iraqis who worked for the Americans were being killed, but were not granted asylum because of some fucked-up vetting process. As if risking their lives, as well as their families', for America hasn't been enough to grant these people some safety.
Anyway, you really meet some interesting people down at the Social Security office.