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I WAS Just Fine, Thanks

, , , , | Working | March 29, 2022

Because of my history of mental health problems, I’m on disability benefits. I work part-time for a local mental health charity, usually about twelve hours a week. I get a text message from the Department of Work and Pensions telling me I have a jobseeker’s appointment scheduled and must attend. I talk to the online Universal Credit Journal to get clarification since this shouldn’t be necessary.

Me: “I got a text saying I have an appointment on [date]. I am not available that day and am not supposed to need appointments as I have limited capacity to work.”

Employee: “Failure to attend can cause a delay or suspension to your benefits.”

Me: “I cannot attend that date; you’ll have to reschedule. Also, I would prefer a telephone appointment.”

Days go past with no further replies, and the appointment is only a few days away. Several years earlier, I was too ill to attend an appointment and the DWP cut off my benefits. I eventually won a tribunal appeal and had my benefits reinstated, but it was a lot of stress and took over two years before I received the back pay owed. Obviously, I’m not keen to go through that again.

Me: “Please note that I have given plenty of advance notice that I cannot attend on [date]. This is not a failure to attend. I am not a jobseeker. I am not seeking employment. I have been told by doctors and psychiatrists not to seek further or alternative employment. I am able to work part-time at [Local Charity] as they specialise in working with those suffering from mental health issues and are uniquely able to support an employee who does. This has all been made clear to the DWP multiple times. Given that the DWP has been responsible for several of my mental health problems in the last fifteen to twenty years, I would prefer not to visit the job centre as it is highly likely to result in an anxiety attack. We are also in the middle of an extremely serious health crisis, in case you weren’t aware. Please acknowledge receipt and understanding of this message, and if an interview is needed, contact me to arrange a telephone appointment.”

I eventually get a reply saying simply:

Employee: “I will phone you on [alternative date].”

I have a lot of stress and anxiety about this. Finally, the appointment comes.

Employee: “Hi. We just wanted to check you were all right since we haven’t had any recent contact. That’s all, bye.”

All that stress and messing about and making me ill just to check if I’m okay? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Department of Wankers and Pillocks.

All These People Need To Be Fired

, , , , , | Right | March 28, 2022

I work at a “critical infrastructure” facility open to the public. One day, there is a serious fire in our facility. We evacuate and block off the street, and literally every fire engine in town shows up.

During all this, I am stationed at the end of the street to do traffic control. Some of the responses I get are… interesting.

Me: “I’m sorry, the street is closed due to a fire at [Facility]. You’ll have to turn around.”

Customer #1: “But I’m going to [Facility]!”

Me: “[Facility] is on fire. You can’t go there.”

Customer #1: “Oh. But can I go to [other office in the same building]?”

Another one:

Me: “I’m sorry, the street is closed due to a fire at [Facility]. You’ll have to turn around.”

Customer #2: “No, I need to get to [Facility]. I have to get there today!”

Me: “[Facility] is closed because there is a serious fire in the building. The fire department ordered an evacuation.”

Customer #2: “When I called this morning, they didn’t say anything about this!”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. We were not on fire this morning.”

Another one:

Me: “I’m sorry, the street is closed due to a fire at [Facility]. You’ll have to turn around.”

Customer #3: “Oh, okay. When will you be open again?”

Me: “I have no idea. They’re still trying to put out the fire.”

Customer #3: “You must know something!”

Me: “I know the fire department is working on it. But the fire is still burning, and we don’t know how long it will take until the building is safe to enter. I’m not a firefighter so I can’t even guess.”

Customer #3: “Then ask the firefighters!”

Me: “Sir, you want me to distract the people putting out a fire to ask how long they’re going to take?”

Customer #3: “Yes!”

Divorced From Reality, Part 7

, , , , | Right | February 3, 2022

In the Netherlands, we have Social Housing. This means the houses can have a maximum rent and are often partly funded by the government. Each region/city can have its own rules for applying for one, but the most common one is that those who wait the longest get one offered first.

I get a call from a lady in her mid-sixties who wants to apply for a house and has her account checked. Almost everything is in order, she only made a mistake on the date she moved into her current home by two weeks. This was corrected. She has not applied for a house yet; she just had her account checked per her request, and this happens all the time.

Caller: “My account was corrected and now I’m missing two weeks. Why?”

Me: “Well, when did you move into [current house]?”

Caller: “[Date].”

Me: “Then that’s the reason it moved to that date. That’s your correct registration date.”

Caller: “But now I’m missing two weeks!”

Me: “Yes, that’s true, but if we kept it like this and you did apply for a house, it would not only be corrected then, but you’d also lose the house you applied to and you’d have to apply again, due to wrong information.”

Caller: “But I don’t understand why you did that.”

Me: “Because you filled in the wrong date.”

Caller: “It’s because I’m divorced, isn’t it? I know a lot of people who get a lot more waiting years than me!”

Me: “Miss, I don’t know the other situations, but there’s probably a different reason. The rule is that you get a waiting time starting with your last known address. If they didn’t move—”

Caller: “They did move! I know they did!”

Me: “Another rule is that you have to keep your account information up to date. If you don’t fill in—”

Caller: “They didn’t do that, either! I bet it’s because I’m divorced. Why do you hate divorced women?”

Me: “Miss, nowhere in your registration is it mentioned that you are divorced. Neither is it on your submitted forms.”

Caller: “Of course not!”

Me: “So, that means we didn’t know you were divorced until you told me a few minutes ago.”

Caller: “I don’t believe you. You did this because I am divorced. I need to move! I’m living in this building and everything changed! There are only young people, and they all ignore me! They don’t even greet me!”

Me: “I understand, times—”

Caller: “And at 5:00 pm, I lock my door, because there are only men living here! That is very dangerous for a woman my age!”

Me: “Did someone threaten you?”

Caller: “No, they all ignore me! So, I need to move right away, and you guys are forcing me to stay put by taking away those two weeks! I should have forty years of waiting time, as well!”

Me: “But unfortunately, that’s not possible due to the rules. You got all the years we could legally get you.”

Caller: “You are doing this on purpose!”

Me: “How would that benefit us?”

Caller: “You are discriminating against divorced women! I’ll probably die all alone in this apartment! I’m going to hang up now because I am getting nowhere! I hope you’re happy now!”

Me: “I’m sorry I could not help you, miss. I wish you a pleasant day anyway.”

She hung up and I sent a note to our department that deals with people who want to move but can’t; they can help people who might need help (to prevent loneliness or who feel scared in their own home). No idea how they can help, but they are more experienced than I am.

Divorced From Reality, Part 6
Divorced From Reality, Part 5
Divorced From Reality, Part 4
Divorced From Reality, Part 3
Divorced From Reality, Part 2

We Could Do With A Pick-Me-Up After This

, , , | Working | December 22, 2021

I have just moved to a small town from a larger city. There’s a bit of culture shock. I realize this when I call city hall.

Me: “I have something large I’d like to throw away. What are my options?”

Clerk: “The garbage collectors only take bulk items one week in April.”

Me: “That’s nine months away. I have to keep it until then?”

Clerk: “You can take it to the dump yourself.”

Me: “I can’t do that.”

Clerk: “Sure you can. Just toss it in your pickup and drive it out.”

Me: “I don’t have a pickup.”

Clerk: *Dead serious* “Are you being smart with me?”

The Million-Dollar Blip

, , , , | Working | December 6, 2021

This story is a family legend. My grandpa was a big stand-up guy; honesty was the best policy, and if you don’t like the truth, don’t ask him anything that you don’t want answered.

Every year, he did his taxes on time, got his tax return, and went about his day. One year, the IRS decided that computers were the future and began upgrading to electronic tax systems. Keep in mind that this happened somewhere in the early 1960s. Through the headaches of new technology, a blip occurred.

A big blip.


My grandfather stared at this one-million-dollar tax return check and then tried calling the IRS to report it.

I don’t know the details of the conversation, but the gist of the conversation was:

Grandpa: “I would like to report an error on my tax return. I believe a decimal has to have been misplaced somewhere, or your systems have made a mistake.”

IRS: “We are the IRS. We don’t make mistakes!”

Grandpa: “Well, you cut me a million-dollar check. I promise you that I did not make enough money this year to deserve that size tax return.”

IRS: “We do not make mistakes. If the system says your tax return is a million dollars, then your tax return is a million dollars.”

Grandpa: “You’re an idiot.” *Click*

Grandpa tucked that million dollars in a savings account and didn’t touch it all year, save to put a bit in once a month.

A year later, panic time! Or, well… panic at the IRS, anyway. Practically eating their words, hat in hand, with apologies to a smirking Grandpa, they admitted that they might have indeed made a mistake the previous year and needed the money back.

Perfectly calm, Grandpa wrote them that million-dollar check and told them, “I told that boy he was an idiot.”

A year’s worth of interest remained in Grandpa’s account from that million dollars. That, plus his eventual retirement, helped him build a house and raise his family before he passed away in the early 2000s. We wish we could get that kind of blip again because the interest nowadays would be a heck of a lot higher.