Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Oh, EDD and the language of permissive bureaucracy

So, I mailed my unemployment claim late and got a weird threatening letter. I had to have a telephone interview today between noon and five (which happened just now, about twenty to five) in order to clear it up.

I know that I mailed it late, in part because I thought that I was going to get a job. After that, it just got lost in the shuffle. But as to the exact date? I have no idea, honestly. Couple weeks ago. Who knows?

The woman on the phone for EDD started out by giving me parameters, saying that if it was mailed before the 22nd, everything was fine. If not, she was going to have to ask me some questions that may result in my losing my unemployment benefits.

I don't like to commit myself to things like this, where there's a verifiable record and legal penalties for lying — blame it on growing up in a co-op. So, I tell her that I just don't remember.

But she has to get a date from me, that's her job.

So she does what good bureaucrats do: She used her tone to make sure that I knew that she didn't really care what the truth was, but that she had to follow through with her duties. She emphasized a couple of times that if I told her that I mailed it before the 22nd, nothing would happen and I'd get paid like normal. Es ging einen licht auf, I told her that in looking at the camera, I was pretty certain that it'd been it'd been mailed before the 22nd (and who knows, maybe it had. It certainly seems likely, given what I know). But she needed me to tell her the date.

"Uh… How about the 19th?"
"Exactly when I thought it was mailed, sir."

The system works!

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