Tuesday, July 18, 2006

NYSDOL Only Hates You If You Speak English

Having been on the dole a fair amount in my young life, I have developed a new philosophy of life: Show me a person who depends on the government for money and I will show you someone who has not gotten a check in three weeks and cannot FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY get a living breathing operator on the telephone.

I am overdue on about five bills because I have $1300 being withheld for reasons unknown to me. I did what any person would do and I called the "Have you not gotten your check in 14 days? Call us!" number, only to be lead, time and time again, through a labyrinthian series of automated menus, only to be told that the operators were busy and that I should call back in twenty minute intervals. No hold please, no static-y Def Leppard to keep me company for hours spent holding the sweaty telephone to my impatient ear, just "Call back later!" - CLICK.

I am a person who gets homicidally angry when the R train keeps me waiting, so this inexplicable lapse in customer service, as you can imagine, caused me to twitch uncontrollably as I banged my phone against its cradle with considerable force. This has been repeated over the past week as I have called back every hour and been greeted with the same friendly hang-up.

Until today.

Today, after I was hung up on, I immediately hit redial, which meant that not only the main number, but all of the subsequent menu options got punched in -- looking something like 18882098124114523399874134331. Immediately the friendly voice chimed in:

"You are on hold for translation services," followed by some other languages I couldn't understand. I figured it was worth a shot, and stayed on the line, sure that I would once again be told to fuck off (perhaps in Portuguese?)with a crisp CLICK.

Imagine my surprise when Debbie - who immediately established her non-automaton status by yawning audibly - came on the line. I explained that I had accidentally been lead to the translation services menu, and -- "No problem," said Debbie. "What's your social security number?"

Within minutes, I had my account cleared up and, supposedly, my checks will be in the mail tomorrow.

It just goes to show ... well, nothing, except that the only way to get a customer service rep on the phone is to punch in a random series of numbers and channel your rage into a psychotic, Jedi-like focus. Then you, too, can receive the mediocre service from government agencies that you are entitled to by Constitution of the United States of America.

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