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Take a Mulligan

My trip through government bureaucracy

John Sheda

Do you remember the newspaper insert “Believe it of Not” of years ago? How about when Paul Harvey would tell you “The rest of the story?” Ever wonder what a mouse goes through when he’s put in a maze and looks for that coveted “piece of cheese?” Here is my story….

I’m not going to get into too many of the “specific” details because…………….well, you know, just because. Hate to have someone watching!!!!! Suffice it to say that I needed to give and share some vital information with one of our government agencies. I was given a certain “800” number to call and then, my friends in Tama County, the fun begins. Let the good times roll and roll and roll. As most of you probably know, you immediately get a recording and about nine different numbers you can push in order to get going in the right direction. And usually of course, the number you want is, at best, only vaguely listed. So I pushed a number and now a series of “recorded” questions come forth. i.e. my birthdate, not numerically but spoken out clearly and succinctly; then the last four digits of my SS#; then a few other specific numbers related to the agency I’m trying to garnish information from and then told that due to the high volume of phone calls, I would be put on a waiting list. Approximately 3 minutes long.

Ok, that’s my first call, but as I was waiting, (patiently by the way), listening to music and then a message that because we are now living in a Covid-19 pandemic age, (really??), I should take certain precautions. Thank you recorded message for this. I didn’t know anything about Covid-19!!! Ok, my sarcasm is starting to come through. Now after about a 2 minute wait, the phone just went dead and the busy signal started buzzing. I WAS CUT OFF. I should have just given up right here!!!

But because this was important to me, (aren’t all government calls), I began the process again. Everything exactly the same. I think maybe this time they also wanted my mom’s maiden name or what my dad did for a living or the name of my first pet or something else. Regardless, the 3 minute wait commenced again. But this time “Madison” said “hello, how are you? What can I do for you” pleasantries. I spent a minute or two explaining the situation. Then Madison replied, “Hello, this is Madison. How are you? How can I help you? After the fourth time of Madison asking me these same questions, I realized that I could hear Madison but she couldn’t hear me. Finally without warning, Madison hung up.

So……………I start for the third time. Folks this is a much longer story than I can share here but after my third call to this number, I was politely informed that this number I’ve been calling wasn’t the right number or agency to call for the information I needed to give and receive. I had already tried to explain it a few times and now was told I was calling the wrong place. I was given the right number. But my patience was beginning to wear a little thin.

Now this entire process was beginning anew albeit with an entire new government agency. All in all, I talked to Alice, Madison, Marietta, Beth and some fella named Harold, who I exchanged some fairly strong words with. He and I will never probably exchange Christmas Cards back and forth. Harold at one time informed me that I should be doing this online and I wouldn’t be having all this difficulty. This is where I started to have some fun as I explained to Harold, asking what he meant by “on-line” and “computer” and other technical stuff like that. I even told Harold that I was just getting the hang of cell phones and actually preferred those black rotary phones to come back. Harold politely apologized to me and then hung up.

I could continue this next week as I still haven’t gotten through to send and receive the information I needed in the first place. But if you email me a jsheda@indytel.com or call me at 319.327.4640, I can share more of my ordeal. But I will have to put you on hold for a few minutes………………………