Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Department of Labor representatives: Good natured in person, grumpy bastards on the phone

We're in the seventh week of unemployment here at Laid Off Loser, and along the way we've learned a few things about life on the dole.

For one, patience is a necessity. I didn't get my first benefits check until my sixth week of unemployment. One of those weeks can be attributed to human error — mine, mostly — but still, five weeks. I got mouths to feed yo.

Frustration is another. The computer tells you one thing, a human tells you another. And even after you get it right and print out your confirmation number, you somehow leave the unemployment office feeling dumber than a bag of hammers.

Some of that feeling can be attributed to how you're treated by the Department of Labor folks. They're a well-meaning, mostly helpful lot, but they're definitely quick to serve the Grumpy Cold Medina. Especially if you're dumb enough to call.

Use the phone to contact the office and you'll likely be greeted by an impatient, fast-talking, prone-to-interrupting representative who seems more interested in getting you the hell off the phone than helping you out.

Visit the office, however, and you'll likely be greeted by a friendly, courteous, patient representative who is more than willing to help you work through an issue no matter how long the line behind you gets.

Only once have I gone to the office and experienced that "Oh God, here's another village idiot with an oxcart full of stupid questions" attitude that seems mandatory for the phone representatives.

If there's a social scientist out there who can help me make sense of this, please, enlighten me. I'm guessing it has something to do with accountability — it's easier to get away with being a jerk on the phone when no one is around to hear you being a jerk.

I'm sure sitting in a cubicle answering the same six questions all day can wear on you, but shit, people, let the sunshine in a bit.

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