These are our ‘golden years’. Indeed, no need for tears, despite our fears of ageing. We all need to keep our sense of humour.
Way back when, my old Grandpa Jack, a widower, was dwelling peacefully in his own unit, somewhere in suburbia. Proceeding to his letter box one fateful day, he received a letter from Social Security, the ancestor of modern Centrelink.
He opened it in the usual way. He read, and re-read. This was a total shock. The letter told him in no uncertain terms, that he was dead, his old age pension was revoked, and enclosed his funeral benefit.
Old Jack read all this in amazement. Double check! Yes, he was still alive, breathing, walking, functioning, did not need a rocking chair, let alone the undertakers. Well, he picked up the phone and rang his local Social Security office.
“No, you are dead! Stop pretending, you are an imposter,” was the reply.
Bemused, Grandpa Jack then presented himself to his Social Security office and demanded to talk to the manager. This was a fearsome battle axe, like a galleon, with a steely attitude to dead grandpas. Old Jack was only to be told the same thing. “No, you are dead. Our records clearly show that you are dead! You must prove you exist. All benefits are now ceased. Don’t spend your funeral benefit all at once.” A very sarcastic female.
Harsh words ensued, but to no avail.
“Right, I promise not to spend $20 on my funeral all at once! How do I prove I exist?”
This was what is regarded as bureaucracy SNAFU. What’s a SNAFU I hear you ask. Situation Normal, All F***ed Up!
Grandpa Jack was told that the only way to demonstrate that he was still alive was to locate three people who had known him for 10 years. These people were required to identify his photo and sign statutory declarations to that effect. His adult children would not be sufficient.
Having done that, old Jack had to produce all this documentary evidence at a special investigation to determine if he was, indeed, still alive. Now Grandpa Jack was doing it tough. He was a survivor of three strokes. He had been managing great with some family support, but he was now in his early 80s. All his former friends had either passed away, or were senile — as in ga-ga — wandering in the valley of the elderly loon.
Some months later, after many fruitless and futile conversations and exchanges of correspondence, Grandpa Jack enlisted his son and a solicitor. They marched into that office of bureaucracy, a confrontation ensued, litigation was threatened.
Grandpa Jack won and was restored to full benefits amid the ruins of his retirement. Yes, he had to prove he was alive to bureaucracy gone ape droppings! There were no apologies, but they insisted that he then had to refund his funeral benefit! He was quite glad to do that.
Eventually, Grandpa Jack, part of our family tapestry, passed away, at a ripe old age. Ultimately, he got to spend his funeral benefit. This is a tale from our family legends. All too true, sadly.
This could happen to anyone. Retirement — the ruins. All in this rune.