30 Jun
Sallie Mae vs. Grizzly bear hides

The continuing saga of one girl’s plight with unemployment…(read vol Ivol II, vol III and vol IV)

Remember the nice guy who worked at the Genius Bar, and who told me to call a 1-800 number and use the word “inconvenience” a lot, so I could maybe get my MacBook fixed for free? Well, I did as he said, and used “inconvenience” a ton, and it worked! That dude and his 1-800 number tip saved me $350!

Well, now I’ve got another 1-800 number to deal with, and this one ain’t so friendly.

The state owes me a few thousand dollars in unemployment checks. Somehow, I filled out some miniscule thing wrong, and since getting through to them on the phone is about as easy and as amusing as finding Osama bin Laden, I’m stuck sending them countless emails. Their replies are always: “Please call the 1-800 number to speak to a representative.” I’ve gotten so incredibly frustrated that my last email probably made me sound like a suicidal/homicidal maniac (I wrote FUCK — a lot — in caps… I couldn’t help myself). They may have me on some terrorist watch list at this point. I mean, I understand the whole notion of “going postal” when dealing with this type of bureaucracy. It makes you feel inhuman, disposable and, deep down, scared.

Hit the Jump to continue reading Bureaucracy for Breakfast vol. V, or Sallie Mae vs. Grizzly bear hides

I understand the economy sucks, especially in California. I understand that this is the reason the EDD can’t hire enough people to answer their phones. Hell, there’s not even an option to “hold” until an operator is free. It’s just: “Please try again.” When I picture the EDD office in my head, I picture three women sharing a flimsy cubicle, surrounded by empty cubicles haunted by the ghosts of their laid-off past co-workers. I don’t know why they’re crammed into one cubicle in my mind — maybe it’s more dramatic that way. These three ladies in my imagination work their collective asses off to save their jobs, eating out of Tupperware and staring at the photos of their kids that they’ve taped to the walls to remind them of all that’s good and awesome in the universe. My “FUCK”s aren’t aimed at them. My “FUCK”s are aimed at that elusive villain: bureaucracy. If there are two things in the world that really get me in a tizzy, they’re condescension… and bureaucracy. But that’s just me. And also slow drivers. And people who don’t say “bless you.” But two plus two doesn’t equal two, so…

Whatever happened to the barter system? Wouldn’t it be cool if we could hand Sallie Mae three grizzly hides that we had skinned and in exchange our student loan debt would be paid? Maybe if things stay this way, the world will go back to that! Granted, a lot of us who don’t know how to fish and hunt would be a little screwed, but whatever. We can learn to make wax candles or pickles or something. Or learn to hunt. It’ll be like Little House on the Prairie. Bloomingdales will turn into those little country stores like the one Nellie Olson’s daddy owned, and we can all just trade things we’ve made or found. Now I sound like a hippie. But there has to be some happy medium, right? We’ve really gotten ourselves into a … pickle… economically, and once you’re kicked off the “I have a job and a paycheck I’m so safe and secure” merry-go-round, it really hits you how FUCKed we really are.

Are you still reading? You didn’t change the channel from sad news to E! True Hollywood Story? When it gets like this, and I feel myself sinking into fear and woe-is-me-what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into mode; I remind myself that in the grand scheme of things I am still very lucky. Not to sound Pollyanna-ish, but it’s true. Growing up, my mom — being the savvy Southern lady she is — always had pearls of wisdom for me, and for my sisters. Whenever I got down about something (usually things that in junior high seem very dramatic: I’m too short for basketball; I hate my freckles; I got a C on the math test; Ray Gonzales asked Lindsay Smith to the dance and not me therefore I may just die and if I don’t die I will never love again, etc etc) she would always say: “Honey, there will always be someone smarter, prettier, taller, and better than you. Remember that.” And then she’d walk off.

At the time, I would mutter, “yeah, thanks,” feeling pissed off that my own mother handed me these words when I was feeling low, instead of something along the lines of, “Well you’ll grow seven inches over the summer and you’ll make basketball next year, and then Ray Gonzales will love you forever and that will up your math score which, as everyone knows, makes freckles disappear!” Now I get it, and I go back to that advice again and again, and it helps. There will always be someone prettier and taller and smarter and better. There will always be days you’ll have sangria with friends in a sunny park feeling on top of the world, and days you panic because of bills and rent and bureaucracy. Just like there are people like Paris Hilton, and people in Haiti living in camps. This all sounds simplistic, I know. But it helps to remember it. And who likes complicated anyways? Besides bureaucrats.

Funny enough, a few days after my zillionth FUCK-laced email to the EDD, someone from EDD actually picked up the phone and called ME! It wasn’t one of the women from the imaginary EDD office in my head. It was a man, with the sweetest, gentlest voice I’d ever heard. He took care of my dilemma and promised that I would get paid for the six weeks I was owed. Phew. I thanked him over and over, and he very sweetly, very gently said, “Well you’re welcome. And next time, maybe leave the four letter words out of your emails, OK?”

If there is a next time, and if bureaucratic BS does get me in a tizzy again, I will try to leave the four letter words out of my emails. I can’t promise anything. But I’ll try.

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