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.

Bernice said...

I am sure the government phone system is designed so you never get to speak to a real person.

Susan Harris said...

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

Donald said...

Frustrating indeed, Eleanor. But then, isn't bureaucracy always a bit that way ? I remember when Brigitte and I were sent to minister in Toulon as a young married couple. We were very happy there and when our first child was born I had to go immediately to the city hall to declare her birth. The civil servant on duty requested our "family book" (used in France and several other countries as proof of marital status). I told the lady that we did not have a family book. She asked for another proof of our marital status. I brought out and showed her our marriage certificat from the government of Ontario. She quickly pointed out that there was no rubber stamp on the certificat to validate it. I in turn pointed out that there was the official seal of the governement of Ontario. Then she declared "But this document is not in French". I offered to translate it for her, but she wouldn't have that and said that I must go to their official translator and obtain the certified translation. In frustration something like yours today I asked her for the address and went to look for the translator. When I found the place (a private home at the other side of the city (!) the neighbours informed me that the translator had moved away seven years previously ! So our case was closed ! Fortunately we were able to take advantage of the French national family allowances although we were considered as living "common law" !!! Before coming back to France to live again we obtained from the consulate in Montreal a "family book". It was issued on the basis of the marriage certificat that was rejected in Toulon ! As for Service Canada, I've had a few matches like yours too, but it eventually comes together. As for what you claim happened 48 years ago, you haven't lost your mind ! I can vouch for you... I was there ! Love you !

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thank you, Susan. I appreciate the encouragement!

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