It’s hard enough to graduate and look for a job in normal circumstances, but it’s even harder when you do it in the middle of a global pandemic, with a recession taking place and jobs are disappearing. To put it succinctly “adulting” is daunting.
And so when I finally got the job I was hoping for, I was just relieved and grateful. I didn’t know that I was in for a wild ride – in the form of a long list of pre-employment requirements which are tied to my first paycheck.
Thankfully, half of it was to be handled by the company’s human resources (side note: read instructions carefully so you won’t end up doing the legwork yourself only to find that they already have it covered, but that’s a story for another day). As for the ones I've had to do myself, getting my own Social Security System (SSS) number was one of them.
Of course, Google is always your friend if you wanna get a headstart on these things, but the Reddit threads I found were equally, if not more helpful. It’s where I found out that in order to get an SSS number, one must register through their online facility. Doing so only took minutes, but the real work, it turned out, was just about to get started when I saw that I still have to drop off my requirements to any SSS branch near me.
In my mind, I was like, okay fine. I just need to drop them off. How hard could that possibly be? I did the online registration on a Monday night and since I was handling other requirements at the same time, I figured I could drop by sometime later in the week to do so.
That turned out as a bad decision on my part, because when I got SSS Diliman on Thursday, I learned that SSS has implemented a number coding scheme in light of the pandemic. Unfortunately for me, my number ended in 2, which makes me only eligible to process things on a Monday.
Frustration immediately set in because I had already spent hundreds of pesos for transportation just to get there safely. Adding to my struggle was the fact that the same Monday was also supposed to be my first day of work. Being late on the first day of work is the last thing anyone would want on their first job.
Come Monday, I was already up as early as 5:30 a.m. in the morning. Armed with a face mask and face shield on, I booked a ride to SSS in Puregold, Cubao which was actually nearer to my place, hoping that I was early enough to get first in line at 6:30 a.m. It was, after all, still an hour and a half early to their 8 a.m. opening. Boy, was I wrong.
When I got there, a long stretch of two connected lines had already formed. Suddenly, I was taken back to my early days in UP when we would have to fall in line at 4 a.m. (others camped overnight) just to enlist in a subject they wanted, or get whatever General Education (GE) class had free slots. I know that I should’ve expected this to happen, but I was told by friends that getting their SSS was pretty much a breeze for them. “SSS? Mabilis lang yan”, was what they told me.
While still trying to take the situation in, I quietly (and quickly) fell in line like the rest of them. Immediately, I noticed that the 6-feet distance necessary for social distancing wasn’t being observed, and I started hoping that there wouldn’t be much interaction among us in line while we each wait for our turns for god-knows-how-long. Too soon, my hopes crashed immediately when the man next to me started ranting about the experience he went through the other week because apparently, like me, he wasn’t aware about the new scheme in place. He also jokingly said that the line was bound to get shorter soon enough, when the clueless others would find out about what victimized us the previous week.
When the mall doors finally opened at 8 a.m., I was keeping track of the time hoping that soon enough I could go. An hour had passed, and the line barely moved. That’s when I started to get really worried and decided to contact my supervisor, informing him that I might not make it on time. Fortunately, he said it was okay and that getting it done was what’s important.
When 11:30 A.M. set in, finally I was given a number so I could go up. I thought of this as the end of my worries, but when I finally got to the second floor where SSS was, I didn’t expect to see another round of lining up. This time around, there were seats you could wait on but the line was still slow moving and during this point, I began to think if I should just come back on another Monday and get there way much earlier. As I looked around and saw others who were probably thinking the same way I do, looking even more exhausted and fed up , sacrificing half a day for this errand, I knew that waiting some more was a small inconvenience I could still endure.
What followed were two hours more of waiting and blaming myself for, perhaps, not being strategic enough in acquiring my SSS number. Finally at 2:30 p.m., doors finally opened and I soon found myself securing another, but hopefully, my final transaction number. I thought, this was it. I could finally go home and work. But upon entering, I noticed that there were different counters setup with number queuing systems of their own. People randomly sat around, probably waiting on their number to flash on the monitor dedicated to their respective counters when I noticed that what was indicated on mine was already six or seven numbers past the number I was just given.
At this point, I was already too tired and impatient to sit and proceeded to ask them straight up what the situation was. I noticed that no one was transacting anymore, and the clerk was just sitting there patiently.
One can just imagine my surprise when she said that she was just there, waiting for someone to transact for thirty minutes already, possibly around the same time that I was about to cry outside wondering when my turn was gonna be, and what was taking them so long considering that different transactions have a window of their own.
As much as I wanted to complain about the whole process, all I could do then was sit down and submit my documents as I intended so I could finally get things over with. In no less than five minutes, I was already out the door, hungry, and perplexed about why it had to take six hours of lining up just to complete such a short and simple transaction.
Looking back, I realized there were things I could have done. I could have researched more, and found about the number coding system they had. I could have gone there much earlier (probably at 5 a.m.), so that I was the first in line and first to transact. Or I could have just forgotten about all of this, charged it to experience, and not write about how inefficient the whole process was in view of a life-threatening pandemic, when one is not supposed to be around that many people and fell in line for that long.
But who knows, maybe this was simply how adulting is like. With or without a virus lurking around, sanay na tayo sa ganito.