Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The HLDW's Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

Just need to share another reason why I am "A Man Who Loves His Wife".

I was between gigs for a couple of weeks so I decided to apply for unemployment to keep a little cash flow going. It is a PAINFUL process. One reports to the Department of Labor (DoL) center to sign-up - you have to watch a 30 minute video explaining the obvious before you are directed to a bank of PCs to complete the application process. I know I'm in for trouble when the word Georgia is misspelled at the beginning of the video. Yep. At a state office the official "how to" video has the name of the state misspelled. The bureaucrat leading the class advised that the video was made in Alabama thus explaining the error. Why the hell I couldn't do this from my home PC is beyond me.

After a week or so I receive a letter advising that my claim has been denied and that I need to report back to the office to speak to someone. DAMN! I report to the office and proceed to wait for 3 hours before having a 3 minute conversation with a clerk who advises me that I do indeed qualify for benefits and it will be corrected and that I should continue to do the weekly certification.

You know where this is going don't you?

Another week goes by and the online system advises that my certification was denied and I need to report to the office. Another 3 hour wait, another 2 minute conversation and the assurance that everything is fine.

It doesn't work. To make a long story longer I do this not once, not twice but three times. What a clusterfuck. I decide to try and circumvent the system and call the customer service number that is buried on the website and after being on hold for 72 minutes the drone du jour advises that they can't help me and that I need to go to purgatory, errrr, the center again.

The HLDW* offers to go with me the fourth time. Remember, she is the pepper grinder of the will and I've seen her go to work on bureaucrats in the past and she has NEVER lost a contest of wills with this species of drone. What the hell, if she wants to sit with me for 3 hours, I would love to have her company - not to mention that she has a way of keeping my Rhino rage in check. Those bastards don't know what is coming their way. I feel like I'm in that movie Tombstone when Johnny Ringo thinks he's going to fight Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday appears and says, "I'm your huckleberry". (Note to self - see if you can convince the HLDW to say "I'm your huckleberry in a southern accent. Additional note - be prepared for disappointment). Oh, yes, they don't have a clue.

So, we get there and we've been sitting there for an hour, the place is wall to wall with people, and the HLDW says to me, "This is ridiculous, I can see why you have Rhino rage whenever you have to come here." (OK, she didn't say Rhino rage. That there is what they call poetic license). I see "that gleam" in her eye as she gets up, whips out her cell phone and walks outside. She comes back a couple of minutes later and says that she met someone outside that has lost their house and they aren't getting unemployment and that they are running out of money and that she needs the car keys to open the trunk of our car to get the bags of groceries that we were going to donate later that day and that she'll get to my issue in a moment. Huh? She walks outside for 5 minutes on a mystery errand and in that time learns the history of a total stranger and is now helping them. Is there no wonder why I love her? I secretly suspect that I've connected with her in order to balance out the incredible karmic debt built up after so many years of decadence and all around bad Rhino behavior. She goes out the door again with keys in hand and cell phone plastered to her ear -- I hear her say the words, "Georgia Department of Labor central office please" as she hits the door. What is she up to?

A couple of minutes later she comes in and hands me the phone and says, "This is Alicia, tell her what is going on". I proceed to tell Alicia my story of woe. I hand the phone back to the HLDW and I hear a lot of "I knows", "Uh Huhs", "Immediately", "You are sooooo helpful", etc. She closes the phone and says to me, "Go up to the counter, the center manager will see you in 2 minutes".


OK, I'm a little incredulous, but do as she says. I've seen what she can do and I've learned to just roll with it (most of the time, anyway).

I rhino my way to the counter and as I get to the front of the crowd one of the keepers of the gate ladies is saying, "When Mr. Ross gets here let me know.". I say, "I'm Mr. Ross". She says, "Come with me". I am immediately ushered behind the armored door that says "Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Enter Here" ... OK, it actually said Employees Only Beyond this Point, but you get the point and am brought to an office with a sign on the door that says Assistant Manager. OK, I'll say it again - WTF. What hath the HLDW wrought?

I'm welcomed like a long lost rich relative by the woman in the office. She immediately pulls up my records, makes several calls and types furiously as she does so. She is a tornado of bureaucratic multitasking and I'm suitably impressed. At last she apologizes for my wait and advises that this time my claim has been resolved and that everything will be fine and here is her card that has her direct double secret probation bat-phone number that I can call if there are any more problems and, no, I don't ever have to show up there again.

OK, for symmetry sake I need to insert another WTF here.

I walk out, stunned, to find the HLDW sitting serenely reading her book. I tell her that we are done and can get out of there. Of course, the rabble sitting around us realize that something out of the ordinary has gone on ... I've circumvented the status quo and they smell it on me. They start asking what did I do and I mutter something incomprehensible as this can very quickly turn into an ugly mob situation with all of the frustration seething. Of course, the ever helpful HLDW explains that she called the GA DOL central office in Atlanta and advised them of the terrible service and wondered if they could help. Seeing cell phones being pulled out of pockets I grab her by the elbow and steer her to the door while whispering in her ear, "Sugar Bear, I think you have just ignited a potential riot". I very much doubt that 1 in 10 of the mob will approach the central office people in the polite yet firm manner of the HLDW. They won't get the same results and I can just see them turning on us when their hopes are dashed.

We escape, but not before the HLDW stops by to say goodbye to the gentleman to whom she gave the groceries. There is no excuse for rudeness in her world.

We pull out of the parking lot and I keep looking over at her and she says, "What are you doing?"

I've got a stupid grin on my face and I reply, "You never cease to amaze me. I'm supposed to be the one that 'gets stuff done' and you cut right through that clusterfuck with no problem whatsoever and feed a family for a week for a second act".

HLDW, "That was easy. You should have listened to me weeks ago. And do you really need to say clusterfuck so much?"

Rhino, "Forget the pepper grinder of the will ... you now possess the fist of iron in a velvet glove."

HLDW, "I like the sound of that."

Rhino, "Just use your powers for good ... and on behalf of my nefarious causes of course."

I am one lucky bastard.

And that, boys and girls, is just another reason (in a long, long list of reasons) why it is a very good thing to be The Rhino.


*Hippie Liberal Douche Wife


  1. Yup, she sounds awesome. And no surprises that just as in Australia, the admin bureaucracy surrounding unemployment in the US seems designed to humiliate and punish the unemployed as much as get them back into work.

  2. Yarse - like other ungainly monsters, bureaucracies can be sharp and hard at the business end, but are usually soft in the middle. Consider this in terms of a flanking manoeuvre and it all should make sense.

    And yes, you're a lucky Rhino.

  3. Long time no read. You are a lucky man indeed. I have found that partners are nearly always better at dealing with that sort of stuff than we are.

    I imagine that I'd be thinking of chainsaws etc in that sort of position. So v well played HLDW! And kind of her with the groceries too. Good luck

  4. Dr Y. - Crazy ... and people want to turn our health care into that.

    Damian - Thanks! You are right ... she is the queen of the flanking maneuver.

    Lerm - Glad you stopped by ... I miss your missives as well ... get back on it soldier.

    Nat - Fkn crybaby ... stiff upper lip, huh?

  5. It's stiff...but soft in the middle ;-)

  6. Rog! you're back! missed ya buddy. BTW the post I'm going to make in *looks at watch* ohhh 10 mins or so will probably make your head explode. I had to sit on the urge to punch a hole in my unoffending wall it annoyed me so much.

  7. Good to hear "you" got results ;) Dealing with bureaucracy is like a trip to Hell.

  8. Bureaucracy cops a beating! Nice work by HLDW. And that grocery donation, man, that was brilliant. I dips me non existent lid.

  9. Nice to read you again, Rhino. And I'm thinking just maybe it might pay to re-evaluate a few more of those 'hippie liberal douches' out there. You never know where the Iron Fist maybe hiding...

  10. Anonymous9:09 PM

    Nice read Mr Rhino, thats one awesome HLDW!


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