Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Reject's Guide to Unemployment

Having worked only five days in the last three weeks, Temp X decided today to file for unemployment. This is actually the second time this year your hero has done so (grrr..writers strike). The truth is the job market has dried up due to a bad economy complicated by the yet-to-be-resolved SAG negotiations.

As a public service to everyone out there who will soon join Temp X on the unemployment lines, the Hollywood Temp Diaries offer you a rundown of what to expect while filing for your government issued handout...

1:15 p.m. -- A Google search for the phone number using the keywords "'Employment Development Department' Hollywood" results in 9,180 hits. Hopefully this isn't some sort of evil trick on behalf of the State to confuse me out of my money.

1:22 p.m. -- I find the web page that offers instructions M.C. Escher would be proud of --

1:22:05 p.m. -- A perusal indicates no actual phone number, but I can apply online. As I recall, it's actually a lot easier than talking to someone (go figure). Sadly this ease is short lived.

1:26 p.m. -- I look up the requirements for unemployment. They are particularly vague. For anyone wondering here are the rules. Let's see if I qualify...

To be entitled to benefits you must be:

  • Out of work due to no fault of their own. (Nailed it!! Lucky for me it doesn't say "Out of work...but you can't blame those idiots at SAG for screwing around for the last six months.")
  • Physically able to work. (I just showered, so that's a 'Yes.')
  • Actively seeking work. (I'm gonna assume "For the last 2 1/2 years" counts as "Actively.")
  • Ready to accept work. (I'm gazing lovingly at my phone. That qualifies, right?)
1:39 p.m. -- I go to the instructions page. Everything is in very tiny print. As I'm not wearing my glasses, I click the button I can read "I accept these conditions." I probably should have read the conditions. But realistically, what could they take from me?

1:40 p.m. -- Three easy "Yes/No" questions. Cool. I'll be done in no time.

1:41 p.m. -- Dammit. It appears because I applied for Unemployment in the last 12 months, I have to call. Grrr.

1:43 p.m. -- The URL for my denial is As I'm a bit sensitive about my current employment status, I only hope that the "Reject" portion of the address is a verb and not a noun.

1:45 p.m. -- I now have all the phone numbers. And because I am so magnanimous, I shall share them with all of you.

EDD Telephone Numbers

English 1-800-300-5616

Spanish 1-800-326-8937

Cantonese 1-800-547-3506

Mandarin 1-866-303-0706

Vietnamese 1-800-547-2058

TTY (Non voice) 1-800-815-9387

1:46 p.m. -- I wonder why "Cantonese," Mandarin" and "Vietnamese" are not written in the characters of their respective languages. Something smells funny here.

1:47 p.m. -- Dog X needs to go to the bathroom. (That wasn't what smelled funny.) I've been at this for 33 minutes and resolved nothing.

1:55 p.m. -- Dog X is a few pounds lighter. I saw my celebrity neighbor while I was out. He's a lead on a network comedy and no, it's not Charlie Sheen. I wonder if his show is hiring.

1:57 p.m. -- I call California unemployment. It's a strangely comfortable moment, like putting on an old sweatshirt or drinking that same cheap beer you did in college.

1:58 p.m. -- I press "1" because I speak English (which I thought was the point of dialing the "English" number). I will not fall victim to their mind games, or will I?

2:00 p.m. -- I enter my Social Security Number over a phone line that is certainly being monitored through though the NSA's warrantless wiretapping provision. Someone now has 12 credit cards and a sub-prime mortgage in my name.

2:02 p.m. -- The robotic voice (or was it Cindy McCain?) asks me how much unemployment would pay me per week if I were to receive it. Stephen Hawking has a better chance of solving the Grand Unification Theory first. They're messing with my head.

2:03 p.m. -- Unable to answer the question, I return to the phone queue and am immediately told, "Due to a high volume of calls we are unable to help you at this time. Please call back later." I thought 2 p.m. on a Wednesday was a good time to call. I will try calling the Spanish line.

2:07 p.m. -- My broken Spanish gets me past the phone tree (Senor Jurado would be so happy to know his teaching paid off). The computer voice warns me I have a 7 minutes wait time. I start to enjoy Musak's quasi-funk.

2:13 p.m. -- The music ends. The phone rings once. Then silence. I'm waiting until some one talks to me or I get a dial tone. Plus I have nothing else to do.

2:15 p.m. -- Someone talks!! She's a real person and her name is Sonya. Se begins to speak to me in Spanish. I respond by immediately telling her "Good Afternoon." She says "Hello."

2:17 p.m. -- Sonya offers a sobering economic outlook by simply saying, "I've been working a lot of overtime."

2:25 p.m. -- After answering a the same "Yes/No" questions as before, I'm approved! Back on unemployment. I'll get about $6/hr. California state minimum wage is $8/hr. They've duped me but for some reason I appreciate it. Just don't ask me to whitewash a fence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is very similar to my experience of trying to talk to someone at the LA county sheriff's dept. on their maddening phone tree! Well done getting at least something.

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