The Terrible Two-Twos

, , , , , | Right | September 9, 2020

I work in a social services call centre. I am talking to a woman who is on unemployment benefit but can only receive it if she can prove she is looking for employment. It is my last call of the day and I am getting tired.

Caller: “Why was my latest payment rejected?! I have a child to feed!”

Me: “Madam, from the notes, it looks like you have recently rejected four employment offers. Without providing a valid reason, the payments will be on hold.”

Caller: “That’s ridiculous! I couldn’t take any of those jobs as they couldn’t let me look after my son! I need to be there for him!”

Me: “The notes also say that the employers were offering flexible part-time hours; was this not the case?”

Caller: “They’re lying! They’re liars and Jesus will make them burn in Hell for being liars! I need to be here for my son!”

Me: “Madam, I understand, but the fact remains that you cannot receive unemployment benefit without proving that you’re actively seeking employment.”

Caller: “But my son!”

While she is ranting, I quickly check the notes. If her son is young enough, she is allowed certain exemptions and I want to make sure before proceeding. I check the details and sit there for a moment, before double-checking. After triple-checking, I go back to the call.

Me: “Madam, I am afraid a lack of childcare is not a suitable reason for rejecting these employment offers. You will need to—”

Caller: “But my son is—”

Me: “Madam, your son is twenty-two years old! He does not need you to stay home for him.”

Caller: “Then you don’t know my son!”

Me: “Madam, with you as his mother, I have a pretty good idea.”

For those wondering, the son (and mother) didn’t have any disabilities or medical conditions; in fact, he didn’t even live with his mother! I’m usually much more polite on the phone, but when a caller is blatantly abusing the system designed to help those truly in need I lose all patience!

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