It's been about 7 months since I've been a member of the unemployment club. Here's a glimpse of some fun moments.
Situation: I needed to announce my decision to attend training and ask for approval from the Unemployment Committee in order to receive $.
Before I went away to training, I followed the proper procedure to fill out a 10 page form. I snail mailed it in and waited and waited. And waited. Weeks went by and after numerous calls to the 1-800 unemployment line, I finally decided to give up and let fate take it's course. If they approved, yipeee. If they didn't, then I'd have to find some way to pay the bills while I was away for 9 weeks.
Halfway through my training, I find out that a letter was mailed to me stating that from here on out, I was not eligible for any $ because I was in training full-time and not "actively" looking for work (even though I was still applying for jobs in both WA and CA every week). Even worse, I may have to pay back $ that I had received during the first half of training.
Finances were the last thing on my mind when I was in training so I tried not to worry about it too much. I had written an appeal letter stating my situtation and how I was attending training so I could actively become employed when I returned.
When I got home from training, again I had other things on my agenda like SLEEP and STUDY DIALOGUE so I would be prepared to teach my first class. After all, I did slap over $11K on my credit card so I would be able to teach yoga!
Slowly, reality started to settle in and the fog lifted...back to "normal life" outside of the yoga bubble. Bills, bills, bills. I was a poster child for Destiny's Child. Soon after, I received a letter in the mail with my hearing date. Yup, I had a date with Judge Judy to contest their decision.
Why was I nervous to talk to Judge Judy? It was a phone court hearing but since I was on speaker phone, I felt like I was IN the courtroom, raising my right hand to swear on my life that I was telling the truth. In my mind, she even looked like Judge Judy. The Judge lady asked me why I wasn't able to find jobs as a "Business Manager," as if I had the magic wand to create jobs in this economy.
I filed my claims every week so it's not like I was slacking but the Judge treated me as if it was my fault that I couldn't get back on the cubicle wagon. To make a long story short (I know it's already long), the Judge ended the call by asking about my monthly finances (cell phone, groceries, housing, tv, car, hair cuts, 401k). I'm surprised she didn't ask me for my blood type. When I had asked her about the purpose of reporting this info, she said that it was going to help her determine whether I would need to be put on a payment plan in order to pay back $ that I had received during the first half of training. Really? I didn't know I would have to pay the State my own unemployment $! I was in tears after this hearing, just dreading the Judge's decision. I had known that they were going to deny 9 weeks of benefits and I would be making checks to the State of WA! Just give me community service. Oh, and I had to wait for their decision in the mail. A few weeks later, I received a letter stating that my benefits were denied. Moments later, I received a letter stating that my benefits were approved. HUH? Szicho!
About one month AFTER I came back from Training (and training was 9 weeks), I received a letter in the mail stating that my training had been approved. However, they were going to require status updates to be filled out and mailed to them letting them know how I was doing in training. And I say this again...this is a month AFTER I completed training. Can you say DISCONNECT??
BUT WAIT - there's MORE favorite moments...
"Oh, man the wait times"
I can feel 6 new white hairs sprouting on my head each time I call the 1-800 unemployment number. I've never timed the wait times, but you wait a LONG time. I could get groceries and still be on hold. I could take the dogs to the park and still be on hold. The wait times are so excruciatingly long that some days you experience the next...
"Did you just hang up on me? Nuh-uh you didn't!"
I think they figured out that most people don't want to be on hold for 30 minutes so they started an automatic recording that says something like, "Don't you know the jobless rate is 10%? We are too busy to help you right now so we'd like to do you a big favor by giving you your time back. Now go find a job. GOODBYE (click)." Typically, this message runs on Mondays and Tuesdays.
"You better do what Momma tells you!"
One time I had a long drive so I dialed the unemployment line knowing that I would be on hold for awhile. I was caught off guard when they answered my call before I got to my final destination. In the middle of our conversation, the lady stopped and asked, "You sound like you are in a car. You know you can't drive and talk on your cell phone. It's illegal." I must've said, "Uh huh I know." Then she insisted that I pull off to the side of the road or else she wouldn't continue our conversation. Gee, thanks, Mom. It's none of your beeswax if I choose to defy the law.
As a first timer on unemployment, I never imagined it would be such a battle to get benefits that already have my name on them. I'm sure there will be more adventures, as I apply for Extended Benefits in the next few weeks...yiipppeeeee!