If you have a child or if you are a human being on the grid, at some point you will have to contact “The Government”. For those who have never had to make a call like this, my heart goes out to you. It is a rite of passage and something we all must eventually face. Like death and taxes, dealing with the government is inevitable. Depending on your age, background or beliefs, you may want to consider gathering a few items before your call. Some items to consider are a strong cup of coffee (Irish is optional), a meal (since your hold times could exceed one hour) and any medications you may have been prescribed for anxiety. Don’t rule out meditation techniques and other rage suppressing mantras you may possess.
Once you have gathered your survival gear, arrive at the location that you will be using to place the call, take your notes and spread out your materials. If you have received a letter and you are calling about it, gather any other items related to it, no matter how insignificant you may think it is. In most cases, that name you scribbled on the back of the gas station receipt will be the name of the only person with a record of why you were sent this letter.
Now it is time to place the call. You will first be told how valuable/important/precious/desired you are as a customer/client/individual and that how important/vital/crucial/special your call is to them. DON’T BELIEVE THEM! Just for fun, write down the start time of your call so you can actually verify how long this journey/adventure/epic saga is going to take. Give your children whatever snacks/electronics/tv shows they want because it’s about to GET REAL. Sometimes you have to pick your battles and when calling the government, you CANNOT WIN.
If you are one of the chosen people, you might have the delightful option of pressing a number for the elusive “Silent Hold”. I was chosen once and it was a beautiful thing. A recording tells you that you will not hear ANYTHING until your call is answered. Disclaimer: I was much younger when this happened and I still have people who doubt it ever happened.
Next, you will be drawn into Dante’s Tenth Circle of Hel…I mean the Options Menu. You MUST listen carefully, as their menu options have recently changed. Even if you called an hour ago, DON’T ASSUME. They will try to trip you up and confuse you because if you make the wrong choice and someone answers, they will try to transfer you. THIS IS A TRICK! You will be disconnected and have to start over again.
Take a moment to check your survival kit if this happens. If you get disconnected, make a run for the restroom and to replenish your water. It may be your only chance, so don’t waste it! Once you have chosen one of the following 32 options and you think you might be on hold with the right person, just accept your fate and settle in for the long haul. You have food, water and placated children.
Just when you think that all hope is lost and you are using profanity, someone will pick up the phone and either say their identifying information so quickly that you’ll never figure out their name or they will rattle off an ID number at light speed. You now have the opportunity to explain why you are calling. You spend two to three minutes carefully reciting the contents of the letter and your reason for seeking out live assistance. It’s kind of like crap shoot. Either they will a) Know why you are calling and actually help you; b) put you on hold since they have no idea what you are talking about or; c) will try to get you to another department, which will just put you right back at the beginning. It might be time to consider that Irish coffee.