Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Government Phone Fun

     I have come to a decision.  All government offices are the same.  From your local Midwestern town hall where Viola is the town clerk and town treasurer and fire chief and all the numbers for those offices get you to Violas desk to the U.S. Department of Defense where they have more numbers than all of Kansas and more desks too, they are all the same.  Because no matter what government office you call, no matter what you are asking for or about, no matter who you talk to, you will get bounced around from office to office, person to person, location to location to find out what you need.  It makes one feel like a superball.
     First of all you have to find a number.  And if you are calling a government office the name of the particular office you need to get to makes no sense.  Bureau of Industry and Security.  Chief Human Capital Officers Council.  English Language Acquisition Office.  Stennis Center for Public Service.  White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance.  And on and on and on it goes.  It NEVER ENDS!  If you can figure out and tell me what any of these offices actually DO, or why they actually EXIST and continue to DRAW PAYCHECKS please let me know.  Because I sure as hell can't figure it out.  As far as I can figure, the Bureau of Industry and Security watched Cops all day long on SpikeTV.  Chief Human Capital Officers Council probably makes sure that every government computer has Jezzball for free public use.  Stennis Center for Public Service has never done a thing for either you or I and last time I checked we are members of the public.  And that White House commission, what is up with that?  Is that the day that we all actually remember where our car keys are?  Seriously, what do all of these agencies do?  Can't we come up with better names?  Can't we be more descriptive?  There has to be a supercomputer somewhere in a NASA bunker in Texas that can figure out some names that we can understand.  Let's get on this.  That would be the Office of Machine-Aided Name Application.  Oversight would probably be by the Commission for Oversight of Non-Human Appellation of Bureau Naming.  For Christ's sake.
     And if you call any sort of government office you will talk to a receptionist at every one of the agencies I named above.  Seriously.  You could call the Richland County (OH) Clerk of Courts to ask their office hours and eventually they will transfer you to the U.S. Heath Resources and Services Administration.  That's just how it works.  Nobody in any government office knows the answer to your question, and nobody knows where to transfer you so that you might possibly get an answer accidentally.  Nobody knows ANYTHING!  Except which Mondays are government holidays.  Columbus Day my ass.
     Actually, you should consider yourself lucky if you actually get to talk to a friendly receptionist at the Hawai'i Department of Human Resources Development.  Because when the phone stops ringing you will find yourself in an automated phone system.  And it will present you with menus.  And none of the menus will include exactly what you are looking for.  There will always be two or three options that are sort of close, that might be right, that could possibly be the one you need.  But here is the secret. Whichever one you pick, that's not the one you need.  No if's, and's, or but's.  It's wrong.  So then you will have to go back or hang up and call again.  Lucky you.
     Once you've discovered this, you will probably be like me.  You will listen to all the menus and eventually push '0' to get a hold of the operator.  I always want to just push '0' right away, to get right to the operator and not waste precious moments of my life listening to an automated voice sprout off lists of options, but I am totally afraid that if I start that one day the automated phone menu people will wise up and start making the operator choice '8' or maybe '27.'  Something like that.  Actually, at the government office that I called today the menu choices were 4, 5, 6, and 7.  What the hell happened to 1, 2, and 3?  When did those go off the market?  Come on.
     Once you've actually reached the operator you can begin being bounced around from office to office.  Welcome to ultimate purgatory.  If you are calling a particularly sadistic government office you might get to talk to an automated service IN BETWEEN operators.  If that happens you might as well take a fork out of your kitchen silverware drawer and stab yourself in the heart.  Because you will never be useful to society again.  You won't escape it.  I don't care if you are calling a tiny, one room Department of Agriculture outpost in the Nebraska panhandle, you will get an automated system, you will get an operator, and you will get bounced around until you realize that you are talking to a custodian at the Hoover Dam and hang up in disgust.  So don't call the government.  Don't bother to go on the Internet either, because once you find the office you want the information won't be there.  If you need any information from the government your options are 1.) snail mail and waiting until you are 71 for an answer or 2.) figuring it out for yourself or 3.) burning off your pubic hair with a propane cigarette lighter.  Because that would be more fun.  And unfortunately that will be a better use of your time.


daniele carol said...

nice work big dave!

Melissa said...

I have to completely agree with you! It's about time someone let it all out!