Part 2-Politics in the Unemployment Office
had to take a state merit test to get the job. They call the people
with the highest scores. So nobody there was dumb. I did not
especially want people to know that I had been teaching for several
years before I took this job.
Apparently good ol' Bob, my supervisor had told everyone about
me before I reported for work. Because I would overhear Alice
and her crony Eileen the temp saying things like "well, she has a
degree" while they were looking at me over the tops of their half-
glasses. Now I wasn't puttin' on airs. I would have preferred they
didn't know. Alice would dump a day's worth of PI folders on me,
and say, "I don't have time, could you file these for me?" I didn't
mind. I figured she had been there longer, and I could stand to pay
some dues. These things were filed by SS#, so you had to put them
all in order, then find the file drawer where they went. That little
plan backfired when Bob started paying me overtime to do the
filing when I waited after work for my Hillbilly Husband to pick
me up. So then Alice would answer the phones after the receptionist
of the day came off the desk, and transfer all the calls to me. Or to
Shirley, because she started the same day I did. Or to Paul, because
she flat-out didn't like him. We played along with this little game. The
trick was to be really friendly with the caller, and offer to look up
his claim on the CRT. The longer you were on the line, the fewer
calls you had to take.
We got a new guy named Judd who told everyone he had 3 degrees.
We were not impressed. In fact, Alice said, "Then why are you
working here?" Judd lived at home with his mother, even though
he was in his mid-30s. He looked kind of like that TV guy
Christopher Lowell. He once accused me of telling him to "get off
his f***ing a$$ and call some G**d*** PIs." That went all the way
to the office manager, on a day I was on vacation. Filthy coward!
That is not my style, as anybody who knows me personally would
attest. I prefer to snipe about people behind their backs, and avoid
confrontation. So they put a note in my file because of the complaint,
while the little liar got away with it. The claims supervisor, Al, said
he believed me completely, but that they had to do something due
to Judd's complaint. I think they were afraid Judd would pull the
gay card and make a big stink. His motive was to get out of doing
PIs, because he was a claims technician, but everyone started training
by doing PIs. This did not go over well with my carpool driver, Paul
who was the type who would have said such a thing to Judd if he had
been working with him that day. Alice put aside her dislike for Paul
and agreed, and vowed to "fix that little prick."
Claims technicians made a little more money, and their main duty
was to adjudicate claims. That means they called the employer and
the claimant, and decided which one was telling the truth, and whether
the claimant got unemployment with no DQ, or if there were a certain
number of weeks penalty before he could get it. Within 6 months, they
had an opening in that department, and Bob promoted me.
My new boss was Larry, who looked like a flesh & blood Ned Flanders.
He was very calm, and had a good idea of what was really going on.
We had a couple of prima donnas in that department. Larry kept them
in line. Our desks were at the back of the office, behind the claims
deputies. We wore headsets because we were on the phone all day.
Each morning we got a list of calls to make during certain time periods.
We had to pull the file, call, and write determinations. Our name went
on the decisions, so some claimants would call and ask to talk to
specific people. They were usually irate because they had been DQed.
You had to explain how that decision was reached, and tell them they
could file an appeal. Much of the day was spent waiting for employers
to call back. We left the headsets on, because you never knew when
you would get a call, and you could just plug in to any phone that was
close. The receptionists knew not to give general calls to people wearing
the headsets, because they were on calls that day.
Judd sat right in front of me. He always wore his headset, even on days
when his duty was mail, or purging files, or filing appeals. Alice had
waited for her revenge, and as soon as he finished his training with the
deputies, she gave all calls to him after the receptionist left. He answered
them the first couple of days. Then he complained to Larry. Larry told
him that was part of his job. Then the rest of us started getting calls, while
Judd didn't. I went up front to consult Alice, who by this time was nice to
me because I did my job well. Alice said, "I am sending them to him.
Why doesn't he pick up?" The call would go back to the front desk, and
some of the Job Service people would intercept them, and look back
at who wasn't talking, and send the call to us. When several of us got
calls specifically asking for "Judd," we knew he was not answering.
Alice called Larry, who walked over to Judd's cubicle and turned up
the volume on his phone. "You've got to keep this where you can
hear it. You're missing calls." Judd acted like how did that happen?
Then the next day he did the same thing. This time, Alice hollered
across the office: "I think Judd needs to turn his phone up!" Larry
went in again, and he was not happy. He sternly told Judd that the
phone volume was not to be turned down, consider that a warning.
Judd was really pissy after that. He would try to go file or make
copies, but he would have to run back to his phone, because Alice
still sent them. She would even tell callers, "Let me transfer you to
our technician, Judd. He will be happy to help you." Then if a call
went back, they would say they were on hold for Judd. Alice was
a freakin' genius. If she was on your side.
Tomorrow, I might explain what a United Nations of Misfits this
office was. Or I might do something completely different. Depends
on the buzz I get from my Sonic Cherry Diet Coke.