Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Perilous Life of the Unemployed, Part 3: Bureaucracy

I went to file my weekly unemployment certification this morning, which has been a routine Sunday ritual for the past year, and got the following message:

Our records indicate that your benefit year has expired. If you need further information, contact your local Employment Security Commission office.

Wow! Thanks for the advance warning, guys!
I had no advance knowledge that there even was such a thing as a "benefit year." I was (acutely) aware that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my unceremoniously being let go by my employer, who I had been working for for over twelve years. I had very deliberately ignored this anniversary because I did not want to dwell on it and make myself miserable.

Anyway, having done a little research, I now learn that I have to have my benefits claim reinstated and that there will be a week delay in getting this week's payment, so... no money this week! No problem, it's not like we have bills to pay or anything.

Does it not occur to anyone that this could cause some problems for people? That maybe if this is really necessary, they could at least give some advance warning and explanation? That the most complex, arcane processes might not always be the best? That people and families are at the receiving end of these procedures?

I understand that there must be reasons for this, that it's not unreasonable to have a review of benefits eligibility after the end of a year... the point is... Give us a heads-up so that we will know that this is coming and can plan ahead!

And in the back of my mind (but not very far back) is the question of what other surprises will be waiting for me when I go to the unemployment office tomorrow to get this all worked out. And yes, I will be paying them a visit. There's no way in Hades that I'm going to trust this to a phone call.

I have been trying to get in the habit of just stepping back from things like this, closing my eyes for a few minutes, and focusing on my breathing. Practicing some mindfulness meditation. So that I won't get overwhelmed by frustration at times like this. It helps if I can just get myself into the right frame of mind. We will get through this.

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