Monday, May 14, 2012

Taste the Rainbow......

I'm such a shop rat. Actually, all my friends are shop rats meaning all we ever do is talk about our jobs when we are together. We talk about what's going on at work, clients stories, weird co-workers and shit you just wouldn't believe.  One of my friends actually works in a place that's as interesting as mine but she's all sensitive and shit about her clients and won't ever tell us what happens at her work.  What a pussy.  Anyway, it's inevitable that when I talk about what I see on a daily basis everyone says, "You should write a book!" and I just smile to myself because a blog is about all I can handle.

Last week this chick comes into my office.  (Disclaimer:  I try not to use real names on here but sometimes only the real names will do.  This story does not contain real names but it's pretty damn close and important to the story so I'll throw caution to the wind this time.)  Okay, so this lady comes in to my office and honestly, I don't even remember why she needed my help.  I go through a process where I gather personal information about everyone in the household (names, dates of birth, social security numbers, etc.) and I get to the part where I ask about any children in the house.  She tells me she has five children.  Her name was Ms. Brown (again not exactly her name but close and you'll see why).  I get her information and then I start...

DPS: Okay Ms. Brown, starting with your oldest child, that lives with you (I have to specify this or they will give me the names of their adult married children), can you please give me the first and last name of that child?
Mrs. Brown: Ivory Brown.
DPS: Okay, Ivory. Is that I-V-O-R-Y?
Mrs. Brown: No. It's A-I-V-E-R-Y.
DPS:  Okay.  A-I-V-E-R-Y.  Who's after Aivery?
Mrs. Brown:  Ebony Brown.  E-B-O-N-E-I-G-H.
DPS: Okay. Who's after Ebony? (I refuse to spell names the stupid way!)
Mrs. Brown:  Hunter Green.
DPS:  I beg your pardon?
Mrs. Brown:  Hunter Green.  Hunter has a different daddy than Ivory and Ebony.  His name is Hunter Green. 
DPS: Okay. Who is after Hunter?
Mrs. Brown:  Redford White.  But it's spelled W-H-Y-T-E.
(I'm fucking dying at this point, but plodding ahead, almost afraid to ask about the next child)
DPS:  Thanks for clarifying that. Who is after
Mrs. Brown:  Sienna Black.  She's the last one.

Thank Sweet Baby Jesus that was the last one.  I honestly couldn't contain myself. It's rare that I comment on names but I couldn't keep this in.  I said, "Well, you certainly have some colorfully named children there!" and she said, "Yeah, I know how it sounds with all the colors but I started with the first and it just happened with the second one so I kept going from there. Some of my friends call us the Skittles family because we have enough colors to make a rainbow. And you know what? Our dog's name is Blue and the cat is named Midnight.  We just really like our unique names!"

I had to bite my tongue because I was dangerously close to whispering :::taste the rainbow::: while she was sitting in front of me.

-Dedicated Public Servant

P.S. Shout out to my homies at ML (You know who you are!) I had a really fucked up day yesterday and they were there for me and I really appreciate it. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hell Week and a Really Memorable Client

I know I've been pretty slow in updating the blog but the word is out in my community about the services we're providing and everything has gone completely ape shit at work.  I'm taking about 125-150 calls a day.  Add in the never ending stream of voice mails that I must listen to and client appointments, I don't have time for anything and my brain is fried when I come home.

I have been getting a lot of entertainment from voice mail messages lately.  I was listening to them the other day and this guy tells me, "This is Richard Sullivan*. R-I-C-H-A-R-D S-U-DOUBLE L-I-V-A-N.  I've already left you four messages this morning. When I leave a message, I expect you to call me back immediately.  Not a day later, not an hour later. Immediately."

Poor bastard. Perhaps he doesn't realize that the message he left me at 8:11 a.m. didn't even get listened to until 3:27 p.m. that afternoon.

Another lady called and left this tidbit:  "HELLO???? This is Shanquaterrionna Jones*. That's spelled J-O-N-E-S.  This is a 9-1-1 emergency. I need you to pay my rent for June.  Please Lord Jesus Help me and call me back, please please please. PLEASE." and then she hung up without leaving her phone number.  Her reference to her matter being a 9-1-1 emergency was not really funny but I was laughing because she spelled her last name.  Seriously?  With the abundance of uniquely spelled names, I always laugh when someone throws out a clusterfuck of a first name with relatively normal last name and when I say, "How do you spell that?" they always give me the spelling of the easy name.

My best appointment of the week was with a rather interesting woman.  She wasn't like a typical client.  She was employed, only had one child and has never used any type of public assistance in her life (or so she said).  She was looking for some help and as is customary, I asked what happened that she fell behind on her bills.  When I ask that question, I always mentally prepare myself for some whopper of a lie, but sometimes my clients surprise me with their brutal honesty.  She said, "I'm not going to lie to you. I fucked up, 'scuse my language."  Okay, I appreciated her being truthful and I said, "Well, can you elaborate on that a bit? Did you have an emergency situation come up such as unexpected expenses? Loss of work hours?"  I could tell she really didn't want to say and I gave her the song and dance about how I'm not there to judge her (hahahha, I won't lie, I judge the HELL out of my clients!) and she could speak freely.  She hemmed and hawed and then finally admitted to me that she went out and celebrated her divorce and spent about $1,200 on booze and strippers (male strippers) last month and now she was behind on her bills.

I just gave her a little smile and asked her if she had receipts to substantiate her expenses and I'll be damned if she didn't have her bank statement showing all the transactions to the strip bar.

She was so candid and straightforward about her situation I couldn't really be annoyed with her.  I put her case through for assistance and on the paperwork I submitted, it looked liked this:

What was the primary reason client needed assistance?  Divorce proceedings
What was the secondary reason client needed assistance?  Expenses associated with post-divorce proceedings:  Strippers and booze.  See attached bank statement that substantiates expenses.

When I think back about all the bullshit stories people have told me about why they needed help from me, I think I'll always look back at this one as my favorite.  Sometimes you've just got to let your freak flag fly, right?

-Dedicated Public Servant

*Names have been changed to protect the inherently stupid and annoying

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ai Weep 4 Da Fewchur

This is a non-work related post.  Sometimes I've just got to leave that shit at the office because it's so annoying.  Instead, I'll bring focus to the dumbing down of America.

I guess it's because I'm old that I just. don't. get. why someone would write something like this in public:

lmfao now i see where he got his fakeness from..... n e ways like they say a persons true colors will always show within time... wish i woulda learned that sooner but its all good no breaken heart or tears this way just for my kids, im always here for u n ur brothers, k luv ya.

What the fuck is that supposed mean??  I had to read it several times over to try and decipher that nonsense.  Drama notwithstanding, it's still a gigantic mess!

What has happened to people? Do they purposely try to make themselves appear as dumb as a pile of bricks?
Dat, dey, dem, lil, foo and dis are not words.  They aren't even close to they word they are supposed to mean and it's annoying as hell to read.  Also, these words are being put forth by adults.  People who really do know how to spell and write but chose to butcher the English language instead.  I guess that teenagers can be expected to use text words as real words but I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone with a brain in their head would chose to present themselves as an idiot.
The same goes for people who watch shit filled shows like Jersey Shore and Toddlers & Tiaras!!!!!
LOL - I really don't care about shit like that too much, I just put that out there to annoy my friend who watches those shows religiously.  Because she's a fucking moron :)

Okay bai fo nowz haterz

-Dedicated Public Servant

Monday, April 30, 2012


Voice mails.  Yes, I'm back on this subject.  Since I average about 125 calls a day, voice mail is a huge part of my daily life. 

Voice mail can be a useful tool.  Sometimes I really don't need to actually speak to someone if they leave me a substantive message.  Unfortunately, when it comes to my clients, I really don't get that too much.

I usually end up with something like this:

to2224865387assoonaspossiblebecauseIhavefivekidsandicantbeevictedthanks.'s that again?

Yeah. People seem to think that they have to get their entire message out as fast as humanly possible, or without taking a single breath.  They sound like auctioneers.  It's gotten to the point where I've had to leave instructions for clients to SPEAK   S   L   O   W   L   Y  and clearly so that I can return their call.  Doesn't work.

On the other side of the fast talkers, there are the story tellers.

Hiiii.....This is James Johnson. Uh, I got your name from my caseworker? Mrs. Smith? Her office is on Walnut? Well, she told me to call you because you might be able to help me?  Well, what happened was I was working and my car broke down and I ended up missing work and they fired me FOR NO REASON.  Anyways my caseworker was ssupposed to pay my rent but now they're not and---BEEP (end of recording time)

*click* Hiiii....This is James Johnson. I think we got disconnected when I was trying to leave you a message.  I'm calling because Mrs. Smith, my caseworker, told me to call you because you would be able to pay my rent for me.  I was working at the mall and just because my car broke down I got fired for no reason and I can't get unemployment and I need you to pay my rent right--BEEP (end of recording time)

This is how I end up with 73 voice mails and after I've listened to all of them, I end up with about 40 actual messages to write down.

Today I had to talk with a customer who was really frustrated about not being able to reach me. I understand her frustration because when I'm on a call, my line rings busy to the caller. It doesn't go to voice mail.  I'm the only person who works in this department and I'd never get anything done if all calls when to voice mail.  Anyway, she I and I were speaking and I reminded her that I was going to call her back tomorrow and I told her, "Please make every effort to answer your phone when I call. When you don't answer, we end up going back and forth with phone calls and messages."  Obviously she wasn't happy about my comments and she said, "Well YOU never answer your phone either!" to which I replied, "Well, I'm not the one who is getting evicted. ANSWER YOUR PHONE."

Sometimes you've just gotta really lay it down on the line for people and tell 'em how it is.

-Dedicated Public Servant

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Meeting and Webinars and Training, Oh My!

We all have to do these things, right?  Meetings, webinars and training.  For the most part I think they're pretty informative. Boring as hell, but informative.  It's a nice opportunity to shut my door, hit the do not disturb button on my phone and shut my door for an hour or two.

My field has constant changes in services, procedures, and policy so I'm normally in one type of meeting or another a couple of days a week.  I get to connect with people that I normally don't speak with on a regular basis and it's a good way to throw around ideas and share stories.

For all my talk about how my clients don't pay attention or listen to me, I've discovered that several of my colleagues seem to suffer the same affliction.

I'm currently in the middle of a federally funded program that requires monthly webinars for updates and information sharing.  This program has been going on for four months.  Absolutely nothing has changed in this program. Nothing. It's pretty simple too. In order for someone to be eligible, they have to be unemployed, low income, living within a certain area and new to the program.  If they meet those qualifications, they are eligible.

Every single month when I'm stuck in this webinar people say things like this:

I have a client who is unemployed, low income and lives within the specific area. She used the program before. Can she sign up again?

Webinar Host: No. In order to be eligible, the client must be unemployed, low income, living within a certain area and new to the program. Prior clients are not eligible. 

I have a client that has never used the program before and she meets all of the other qualifies except she just moved to another area. Can I sign her up?

Webinar Host: No. In order to be eligible, the client must be unemployed, low income, living within a certain area and new to the program. Clients living outside of the area are not eligible.

My client is low income, not a prior client and lives in the area. She just got a job, but only works like ten hours a week. Can I sign her up?

Webinar Host: No. In order to be eligible, the client must be unemployed, low income, living within a certain area and new to the program. Clients who are employed are not eligible.
I wish we had buzzers to use whenever someone asks a question when the answer was immediately provided two seconds before they asked.  This also gives me great respect for the webinar hosts because I don't know how many times I would have to answer the same questions over and over again without threatening great bodily harm to those that do.

/Reading and Comprehension FAIL!

-Dedicated Public Servant

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yo this is Miss Delicious! Hit me back later - HOLLA!

Voice mail greetings. *sigh*

I hear voice mail greetings all day long every day because I'd guess that about 90% of my clients NEVER ANSWER their phone when I call them back.  It's really frustrating because then I end up in a never ending game of phone tag.

I call someone and leave a message. I don't even hang up my handset, I just move on to the next caller.  In the mean time, I have customers calling me back and complaining that my line is busy or that the call goes to voice mail. This could all be avoided if they answered their phones in the first place, but that's another story.

Sometimes I'm entertained by voice mail greetings. Sometimes I'm perplexed by them. Sometimes I'm completely taken aghast by them.


"UHHHH!  This is Sam, just leave a message on this phone because this mothafuckin cell phone don't even ring. I don't know what's up with this mothafucka but just leave a message and I hit you back. SHIT!"

Needless to say, I did not leave a mothafuckin message on his voice mail.  I actually did end up meeting with this individual and part of his problem, he said, was his inability to secure employment. I asked him if he was leaving his cell phone number on job applications and he said yes and I explained to him that potential employers don't want to hear the word "motherfucker" when they leave a message.  The client said, "Well, if they don't want to hire me just for that reason, then I guess I really don't want to work for someone like that."

Not everyone is such a negative Nancy, however.  There's always a few ladies who like to tell me how fabulous they are and how they are out living their lives and doing their thing and for a second I think, "Well, what a nice positive message!" and then they say, "So leave me a message and I'll call you back if I feel like it!"  I'm such a chump. I always leave messages. I really hope they do feel like calling back but they don't always call back. Bummer.

Even if they don't call me back (since they didn't feel like it), or if they are spewing obscenities, I think I'll still take that over the dreaded recorded music intro the the voice mail greeting.

Recorded music intros to voice mail greetings makes me want to kick puppies.  When I first started this job, I would sit there and listen and wait until the beep so I could leave a message.  Then I started listening to the music.  Big mistake.  I've heard it all:  Gospel, Country, Hard core gangsta rap and toddlers saying how their mommy can't take the call right now because blah blah blah.

Repeat after me everyone:  Hi. This is Jane/Joe, I can't take your call right now. Please leave a message. Thanks.

That's it. That's all you have to say. You don't have to read bible scripture. You don't have to tell me that you're probably sleeping or shopping.  Please don't shout HOLLA at the end of your greeting.  Please don't say the eff word in your greeting either.

Follow those little rules and the employment offers will just start rolling in.


-Dedicated Public Servant

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Have A Blessed Day!

I like getting blessed by people in my life.  My priest. My mother. A stranger when I sneeze.  I also get blessed by clients on an almost daily basis.  A huge portion of my clients end phone calls with "Have a Blessed Day!" or "Be blessed."  Sometimes I thank them and sometimes I say, "The same to you!", it just depends on my mood.

This is a memorable "Have a Blessed Day!" story from last summer. 

Me:  Sorry, Ma'am, I can't pay your $93 water bill because your monthly income of $5,800 exceeds the income limit for this program.
Client:  Well, I might make $5,800/mo but I have lots of other bills to pay. My car note is $400/month, my cable/internet is $185 and I have to pay about $1,500 a month just on my credit cards!!
Me:  I'm sorry that you are having financial difficulties. Perhaps you can suspend your cable/internet for a month to get caught up on your water bill?  Once the water bill is paid you can restart your non-essential services.
Client: What do you mean NON-ESSENTIAL SERVICES??  I HAVE to have cable and internet because my son has ADD/ADHD and the only thing that keeps him entertained is the internet and computer games!  He's home all day since school is out and plays on line for about eight to ten hours a day and that's the only way to keep him calm!
Me: Ma'am--
Client: And I have to have a car to drive my kids to their school activities like sports and band and dance. I didn't even tell you how much I have to pay for that!!
Me:  Ma'am--
Client: Who do you think you are to tell me to cut my cable and internet!!
Me:  Ma'am--
Client:  I've never asked for help before and now you're refusing to help me because I have cable WHICH I NEED for my son!
Me:  Actually, I'm unable to assist you because your income exceeds the program limits.  You can try calling a couple of other agencies or, if you belong to a church, you can call them too.
Client: Ha! I bet you don't even go to church! You aren't being very Christian! I'll go and ask them! HAVE A BLESSED DAY!!

This was one of those times when the client said "Have a blessed day!" but what she really meant was "FUCK YOU!"

When I hear the sarcasm dripping from their voice, I'll usually respond with, "The same to you!" and it throws them off because now they're wondering if I'm saying, "Fuck you!" back.

I am.

-Dedicated but blessed Public Servant