This is going to come as a shock to some of you but in July I will qualify for a “full” Social Security retirement. Yes I know, I don't look that old!!! They say that you should apply 3 months in advance so I set up an appointment to go over to the Social Security Administration office in Ukiah. Wanted to get this done before the Republicans in Congress screw up Social Security. Most people would get into their cars and drive the over 100 mile round trip fighting the twist and turns and traffic on Highway 20 or Highway 128. You would get home drained and tired. As you can guess that wasn't my choice. I called MTA the day before my appointment and scheduled an early pickup in Mendocino at 7:00AM to get me to the Boatyard in Fort Bragg for the CC Rider's 7:30AM leaving time heading to Ukiah and beyond. Everything went well and I arrived in Ukiah a hour early for my appointment. The SSA Office was only half a block away so I had to kill some time. Had two choices, McDonalds or Starbucks. Normally I would have preferred Starbucks but McDonalds was closer and they also had wifi so I went there and had a mocha and checked my emails. Bob the bus driver was there taking his break so we talked about retirement. Bob is in his 70's and already has a couple of retirements to his credit. I also consider Bob to be the best MTA driver, technically, that I've ridden with. He's smooth!!
After killing the needed time I walked down the street to my appointment.
When I was delivering mail in Chico, CA, my last carrier job included delivering mail to the SSA Office there. It was like a small fortified building with only a face, mostly female, behind a little window. Never needed to be beeped in. The Ukiah building was a little better but they still had an armed security guard that asked me to show him my pocketknife and went through my backpack. My Swiss Army knife passed muster and I was allowed to check in. You can apply for retirement over the phone or on the internet but eventually they need to see certain documents. I'm glad I went in person. If and when you make an appointment ask them what documents they need to see. The appointment letter they send you to confirm your appointment was a little short on that information. My appointment was on time and I had a wonderful application person. Maria was a little surprised that I had everything I needed. After much typing on a computer and my swearing under oath that everything was truthful she asked me when I officially wanted to start receiving benefits. I told her that July would be the time for a full retirement payment. This is where I was glad that I went in person. Maria explained that if I started this “month” my payments would only be $2 different then if I started in July and I would get three months of retirement benefits before July. I later figured that I would have to live at least 15 more years for that $2 to factor in.
I must explain that because of my limited civilian employment and my civil service pension, I am covered by the Windfall Elimination Provision(WEP) which reduces my benefits by over half. My monthly check will just about cover my beer and birdseed needs. In fact my wife will collect more then me from my benefits. Will not be driving a Tesla or even a Nissan Leaf anytime soon.
After leaving the SSA building I felt that things went so well that I would take the time and have a sit down lunch instead of my usual Subway fare. I had plan to recycle old ink cartridges at Staples so I took the Nine (that's what they call the bus that drives around Ukiah) over to the shopping center where Stapes is located. I did my thing there and walked down a short ways to the Alley Grill. Noticed that they had beer on tap and wifi. Since I wasn't driving I decided to have the Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich(excellent) and a glass of a Belgian White Beer.
Checked my emails and found out people were looking for me. Confirmed some scheduled Big River Spring Bird Survey dates and times. Found out I was approved by California Fish and Wildlife to work on another Mendocino Land Trust project. Outside the Grill I noticed a woman walking by (I knew her walk before I recognized her) that used to work in the office at the Woods where I live. We had a nice chat. I walked around the shopping center and then back to the bus stop. Noticed a women coming out of Walmart with some potted vegetables which gave me the idea of getting some vegetable starts that I could kill. Took the Nine back to the Pear Tree Shopping Center where I had a scoop of the flavor of the month, Cream Brùlée (not impressed), at Baskin Robbin's and then walked over to Home Depot and bought three different varieties of tomatoes, zucchini, and basil in hopes that something will survive in our coastal climate. The cashier provided me with a carton to carry them on the bus. Walked across the street for a short wait for MTA's route 75 to take me back to the coast. The trip back went smoothly. There were no released people from the county jail but there was Bob. Bob works for the local radio station(KZYX) in Philo. Bob is an expert on everything and is willing to share his opinion with anyone. I've ridden with him before. Bob! We did not go to war with Russia over Syria!!! This time it was the marijuana market locally and nationally. He might be an expert on this subject because he sometimes smells of the subject matter. In any case Bob, the rock group, The Eagles, had a song you should take to heart, Learn To Be Still.
Bert, the bus driver, made a statement just before we arrived at our break stop at the Navarro Store. He said the women should go inside and ask to use the “regular” toilet if needed. The men were limited to the blue boxes outside. I said that that was a sexist remark. No one I know, male or female, likes to use the “blue” box toilets.
Arrived back in Mendocino well rested And my vegetables still intact. Costs for the trip–A small mocha was $2.39. A sandwich and beer was $14.06. A single scoop of ice cream was over $3. Veggies were under $10. The big bargain was a round trip bus ride to Ukiah and back for $7.70. You can't beat that.