Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ah... bureaucracy.

This is not the post that I intended to write when I opened this page but when I opened this page I cam to the realization that my copy of Twilight (that is a link to the version I have, paperback with the actors on the cover) is missing.  How am I to snark without the original text?  Plus it was a gift from Ana.

So clearly there was a need to search, and while I searched for that I figured it was a good time to search for something else, that being the contact information for the original person I met in the bureaucracy.  I'm pretty sure that a lot of the problems I'm dealing with could be solved if I could just sit down across a desk from her and talk rather than being tossed from person to person, and I'm also pretty sure she gave me here contact information.

I didn't find it, but bureaucracies keep records and records would probably indicate my initial point of contact.  So I called them, all I wanted was to see if I could set up another meeting with the first person I met.  I never got the chance to ask.

So here's the rundown:

Day 1:
Person 1: All of this paperwork is done, but our systems have a couple of errors and you need to bring in X to fix it, no need for a meeting just show X to the person at the front desk.  That's it.

Next day:
Person 2 (front desk person): (having been told what the problem is and that I have X) First you need to fill out the form, only then will I pay any attention to what you want or why you are here.
Me: (who filled out what I was assured were all necessary forms yesterday) What form.
Person 2 in a "What kind of idiot are you?" tone: There's only one form.
*I, the person who filled out many more forms than just one the day before and am probably in the office for reasons completely unrelated to everyone else in the room, fill out another form in spite of having filled out all necessary paperwork the day before*
*Time passes*
*Person 2 is ready to see me again*
Person 2: Ok, now this isn't nearly enough but you can go home now and we'll handle getting copies of X, because the original X isn't good enough for us.  We just need you to swear under penalty of prosecution that the information on this thing I just printed out is accurate.
Me: It is not accurate.  That four and that four should both be nines.
Person 2: Do you swear that it is accurate?
Me: Except for the glaring error I just pointed out.*
Person 2: I'll fix that, we're done now.

More than a month passes.  I hear nothing.

I get a letter in the mail saying I was rejected for something I never applied for.  I can't remember if this is standard procedure or not.  It's been so damn long since Person 1 explained standard procedure to me.  For maybe a week or two I'm not really sure what to do.  Then I try to go to the website to see if the application for what I did apply for is being processed.  It refuses to tell me anything.  (Because I gave it the right information and the information in the database is still wrong, which is odd because applications weren't supposed to be sent out until after the database was fixed.  I definitely did not know at the time that the information in the database was still wrong because it refused to tell me why it was refusing to tell me anything.)

I call up the number on the website, which is national rather than state.  Meet Person 3.  Tell Person 3 my tale of woe.
Person 3 who is clearly baffled: Why would they need to send away for a copy of X if you had the original right in front of them?
Me: I don't know, that's just what they told me.
Person 3: Well don't worry about being denied for that thing, you never qualified anyway but it's standard procedure to also apply people for that when they're applying for what you did apply for in case someone does qualify but doesn't know it.

I start to write a blog post about all of this after I get off the phone.  I'm not very far into it (and never end up posting it, I eventually post this instead) when person 2 calls me up.  Been more than a month and I've heard nothing now suddenly she wants to get a hold of me.  Within hours of me calling people higher up the chain.  I do believe in coincidence, I have difficulty believing this was one.

Person 2: I've wanted to get in contact with you for a long time but we had the wrong phone number, it turns out those two fours were supposed to be nines.
*I refrain from pointing out that the last thing I said to her was that those two fours were supposed to be nines TWICE and listen as she describes how she suddenly, mere moments ago had a revelation that the fours might be nines and rushed to call me*
Person 2: Now you have to [jump through seventeen hoops, sign these forms, have them notarized, bring them in to me, start a three ring circus, so on, so forth.]  Would you like to come in to get the forms, or should I send them to you.
Me: I'd prefer that you send them, but could you also send that list of other stuff I have to do?
Person 2: [Strings together words into coherent sentences that somehow fail to make any sense in context]
*conversation ends*

I get one form in the mail, I do not get a listing of any of that other stuff I had to do which was extensive and I knew I wouldn't remember.

My mother: Why would they need to send away for X when you showed them the original?
Me: I don't know, that's what the person at the national phone bank asked.

*I wonder about that myself for days*

Today, after failing to find Person 1's contact information I call the local office:
Person 4: This is bureaucracy, how can I help you?
Me (to be sure): This is [local] bureaucracy, right?  Not national bureaucracy.
Person 4: Yes.
Me: Ok, I've talked to three different people and heard four different things-
Person 4: Before I can do anything I need your [information]
Me: [information]
Person 4: And [information].
Me: Well, that's the problem, what you have in your system is wrong, the correct thing is [information] but previously you've had it listed as [information] and [information] and god knows what it is in your system now.
Person 4: Well what's the correct [information]?
*I repeat the correct information.*
Person 4: Ok, give me [information], [information], and [information].
*I do.*
Person 4: You're right, it's still wrong.  Just bring X into the front desk and it'll all get fixed.
Me: I already did.  Since then I've been told conflicting things about what I need to do now.
*long conversations in which the above "All you need is to bring in X" "I already brought in X, that's how I got to be here" is repeated multiple times*
Person 4: It looks like we already have everything from you that we need.
Me: So I don't need to fill out and get notarized this form that was just sent to me?
Person 4: No.  You can if you want, but no.
Me: Um... how do I say this, if you're wrong and you do need this form, when will you know and will you contact me?
Person 4: If anything is wrong you should be contacted by the end of the week.

And that is where we stand now.  I've talked to four different women (one of them twice) and heard 5 or so different things.  Some of them were quite similar, Person 1 and Person 4 were largely in agreement about what I had to do with respect to X and Person 3 was clearly baffled at why something largely in agreement with them hadn't been enough, but there were variations enough (which I have probably failed to adequately convey in this post) that they were each saying something different.  Person 2 meanwhile was in an entirely different solar system than Persons 1, 3, and 4, and disagreed with her own damn self on top of it.


* Not my exact words, but that's the gist of it.  My exact words were, "Except for the phone number."

1 comment:

  1. My experience with hospitals is that once you get one bit of wrong data into their system it will be with you forever; you can correct it each time, and each time they will swear it will be fixed, but...