Friday, September 01, 2017

Handling Bureaucracy Creatively by Eleanor Shepherd

Today I wanted to get at my writing. However, there were a few administrative details that I needed to look after first. When we returned from vacation yesterday, I found one of those grey-beige envelopes in my mail from Service Canada. This time it concerned my pension. When I opened it, I discovered that in spite of the fact that my husband and I have been married for nearly 48 years, according to Revenue Canada the latest information that they have about me is that, “You are single, living apart for reasons beyond your control, separated, divorced or a surviving spouse (widow/widower) or surviving common-law partner.” This was surprizing news to both of us. So I decided that first thing this morning, I should try and straighten things out.

            On the back of the form providing this information was a phone number that I could call, as well as a website. I started with the phone. Talk about choices! The first one was easy, as I opted for the English language, so I did not have to hang up and dial the number that they quickly rattled off in French. Then I was given about eight options, but none of them suggested anything about correcting the incorrect information that I had received regarding my marital status. At the end was the option to hear them all again. When I hesitated, not quite sure what to do next, I was informed that I had taken too long to make my choice, thus I would have to press another key to go back to the choices. 

            Obediently I did so, and discovered that the option I decided to choose gave me other options and the choosing the third one, I thought that I was on the right track. Then I realized that the information that I wanted to correct was not included in their list and I had an option of dialling zero to speak to an operator. Immediately the message clicked in that due to the volume of calls no operators were available and my best option was to go to the website. At the time, that seemed like a good idea to me, as it was clear that I was not going to get anywhere on the phone.

          Although I was put off by not being able to communicate with the proper government authorities, I am of a persistent nature, so after lunch I decided to try the website. I copied the address from the form into my browser. Then the option came up for me to register, so that I could access my Service Canada account. The way to do this was to register through your financial institution although the financial institution would not have any access to your Service Canada information. This sounds like a simple process, but again this proved not to be the case. My password did not work, so I had to change it. (I realized later that the reason it did not work was that the caps lock was on so everything was in upper case.) Strict instructions were given not to write this password down anywhere. I just hope that I can remember it by the time that I am able to finally access the site.

            The registration process included having to apply for a code number to be able to access your account. To do this, you must leave the website and go to another website. Step by step, I followed all the instructions and then discovered that the code number will be sent to me in the mail! So it looks like our government will continue to be misinformed about my marital status for the next little while, until I receive the code and can access my account and make the corrections to it. I do not plan to change my status to accommodate to their assessment of it.

            As for my writing, it looks like today it will consist of filling out forms on-line multiple times and cranking out this rant. Perhaps I should have forgotten about the need to correct a government mistake about my status and just expounded on the enrichment I have found in life by being married to my best friend for 48 years. That would be an interesting document to send to Service Canada. Perhaps I will do that when I receive the code to access my account. It could brighten up the life of some employee who may be buried under incorrect forms.

Word Guild Award

Word Guild Award


Peter Black said...

Ooh! - The infuriation and frustration! Eleanor, this is ridiculous . . . A head-shaker. Thank God for the great consolation that you know who you are and can smile and rejoice in the reality of Glen's and your unbroken relationship, enduring love and God-blessed union. I do hope you are able to get it all straightened out, though. ~~+~~

Glynis said...

Oh my goodness gracious! In between laughing I was shaking my head on your behalf! Eleanor. Are you kidding? That was quite the runaround. So sorry you had to go through all of that nonsense.
Whatever happened to service? Technology is great but goodness knows speaking to a live person should be an option. Sometimes when I run into this kind of 'stuff' I press zero, put my phone on speaker, then get on with my day until someone answers. Well that is if they don't hang up first. I love that you found humour in your day and a wonderful affirmation of how 'very married' you are! And look at that - fodder for your post. Always a positive in everything. Sigh.

Carol Ford said...

Very funny, but I'm sure it's not so for you. Thanks for the blog.

Susan Harris said...

Love this, Eleanor. You express the frustrations of bureaucracy well. Great writing.

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thank you, Susan. I appreciate the encouragement!

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