Daily Archives: April 3, 2006

Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos

Another mundane Monday. Every single time I wear a certain navy blue pinstriped suit it rains. Today, rain again. And I had just gotten the suit from the cleaners. And now, it’s soaked. Hate the rain.

Traffic this morning outside the Lincoln Tunnel. A commuter van was sliced in thirds by a large tow truck. Hopefully no one was injured though the potential looked great. So much mangled metal, the driver’s side was torn wide open. It was heading back into NJ so chances are there wasn’t many if any on board. Of course it made a mess of traffic. If one end of the tunnel is full of traffic it will affect both ends. No one was getting out of the city so that backed up everything.

I didn’t care about the time. I don’t care anymore about getting to work by 8:00. I moseyed up Eighth Avenue and down 55th street. I used to buy a hot chocolate and a piece of pound cake for the homeless guy in front of the building where I work, but since he told me to give him money instead of hot chocolate and pound cake, I’ve stopped giving him anything.

It’s like when someone would ask me for a cigarette, then when I would show them a pouch of Gauloises (sob) and offer to roll one up for them they would turn their nose up. So it’s true, beggars can be choosers. It’s a fact. It’s has happened more than once.

At work I received a letter from the New York State Department of Labor, saying that I owe the $1968.50.

Here is that story. In 1999 I was working at People Magazine, as a freelancer. I didn’t work steadily, just came in when they called. I enjoyed the time and the freedom of freelancing. I was collecting unemployment at the time also. Nowadays when claiming your benefits it’s all done over the phone. It’s a very good system. You would find out instantly whether or not you were qualified for benefits.

Since I wasn’t working steadily and I was collecting unemployment before working at People I maintained my schedule and would phone in, using my touch tone keypad and state how many days or hours I had worked. All fine and dandy. Sometimes I got a reasonable check, maybe 175.00, another time I got a check for 63.00

Luckily I was living in Weehawken and rent was cheap and I had a roommate. 63.00 lasted somewhat. In 2002 I moved from Weehawken to Hoboken and started working for Wanker Banker. Unbeknownst to me, the NYS Dept of Labor was looking for me in 2004. It seems they thought they had over aid me to the tune of $1968.50.

So they sent letters to my former address in Weehawken, a notice of a hearing. But since the mail forwarding had expired, I had no idea. Eventually they tracked me down through my social security number and sent letters to the headquarters in San Francisco that were then forwarded to me in New York City.

Once I got the info I tried to set the record straight. I called up the Dept of Labor, gave them the address at work and told them I had no objection to going to a hearing. They said they would send the proper notice.

I never got the proper notice because they had sent it to an incorrect address. I don’t know who wrote what down but I had gotten in touch with them a few months later. They were quite belligerent, insisting that I was in default since I didn’t appear at any hearings. It was then I found out they had the wrong address.

With that worked out I had a hearing scheduled for the end of June 2005, right around Bill and Julio’s birthdays. I made it to the hearing. I was all alone, no files, no lawyers. Other people did, stacks of files, well dressed lawyers. Me in a Guyabera and khaki’s with a shoulder bag.

I sat with Judge Andrea Addison for about an hour. The Judge, a tape recorder and me. She asked me a series of questions that I answered truthfully. When it was my turn to speak I told the judge that I value unemployment and even advised various people not to try to cheat on the claims. I spoke with conviction and with an open heart.

That night at Julio’s birthday party I really wasn’t much fun had a lot on my mind. There was the hearing, the penalty if I lost my case, and issues with Bill. Not a party hat night for me. I was quite a drag to be around. Nothing could get me out of the funk. I even called my sister from the restaurant parking lot in Moonachie to vent.

I regretted it all and tried to make amends by buying framed postcards of Central Park for Julio telling him that they were from Bill and myself for Julio’s birthday. They did take him out to dinner for both their birthdays.

A few weeks later I got another letter from the Dept of Labor. I won the case. I was mighty happy. Of course the birthdays had passed, the damage done and healed. I was amazed that I was able to get my point across respectfully and with such a satisfactory result.

Fast forward to December 2005. Another letter from the Department of Labor asking where their $1968.50 was. They weren’t too happy with my ignoring them. I gathered my papers and faxed them the decision from Judge Andrea Addison. They said they had received it and all was in order, that I didn’t owe them any money. I asked if this was over and they said it should be, but I should hang onto the paperwork, just in case.

Today I got a letter from the Department of Labor, still belligerent, asking me where the money was. I called the number on the letter and of course they told me it was the wrong number. They gave me another number to call. That number was for filing claims for the week ending April 2, 2005.

I wasn’t filing a claim. I just need to get this matter settled once and for all. So tomorrow, I have to redo what I did in December. Fax the info, wait for them to read it and tell me that they are wrong once again.

If only they weren’t so goddamned helpful and cheery.

Tonight was a visit with Philip Beanstalk. More like the Bill Hour featuring John on backing vocals. We won’t be seeing Philip the next two Mondays since Bill has a seminar next week and the week after that we’ll be in Washington DC. We should give Philip Beanstalk a rest since we keep throwing out mexed missages.

More rain outside. Dismal. My suit, soaked.