If We Were Having Coffee Guest Post– April 26/2015

Frustration

High tea in Government House in Edmonton Alberta.

Paul your Barista

Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today and I’m happy to be here once again. Please come in and make yourself comfortable. Willow has plumped the cushions and started a cozy fire so we can warm ourselves while we have a cuppa and chat. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our world-wide readership. Also available is a large selection of spirits for addition to your cuppa or in its place. We can relax while we    discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. How has your week been?

So, I travel to dialysis three times a week by a handicap bus. Because it is so often and I am on disability, the bus pass is covered under Health and Safety Services (HSS). For this I am grateful. However, dealing with HSS has to be the most frustrating experience I have ever had. Naturally enough, they want yearly confirmation by a doctor that I still qualify for this service, so they send a form to me for the doctor to sign. I received that form late last week and on Monday, while he was doing rounds, I got the dialysis doctor’s signature. So far, so good. Dialysis is very obliging and has some stake in their patients arriving in a timely manner so they offered to fax the form to the appropriate government office. The form says clearly and unambiguously “… fax to Valerie Gauthier at 613-580-4760” in big letters on the top. So, dialysis faxes this form, attaches the confirmation of fax receipt from the receiving fax at the correct number, to the form and returns it to me. Knowing this department is notoriously incompetent (very kind and considerate and easy going and approachable and very seldom, if ever, get anything right the first time around) I decide to follow up to make sure this form has been received.

Would you like a refill? Perhaps a sweet? On Thursday afternoon, I look up the number for Valerie in the city of Ottawa employee directory, and call. Valerie informs me in a very upset tone that I have the wrong person – she no longer does that. Fine, I tell her that her name is on the form – I hesitate to ask what her problem is. So Valerie kindly gets me the number of my worker and explains that all services are coordinated through her – Diane Miron. So I call Diane, identify myself and explain why I am calling. Diane informs me that she doesn’t take care of that and asks who and what number I faxed the form to. So I tell her the name and number on the form. Diane tells me that the person and the number are wrong – and uses a tone that implies I’m stupid. I object that I did precisely what the form asked me to do. Diane says they haven’t gotten around to changing the form yet and checks the computer. She tells me that the computer does not show that the form has been received and asks when I sent it. I tell her (4 days ago) and she says that Julia Hamilton now takes care of this and that she should eventually get the form anyway. So, I thank Diane and look up Julia’s number. She is not in and I leave a message. So far I have used over ½ hour of my time and city workers time fruitlessly because the form had the wrong info on it. And still I have no answer and the city wonders why their workers’ productivity is so low.

City of Ottawa HSS Building

The following day I received a call back from Julia who told me that the form was no where to be found and that I should re-fax it to 613-580-2790. Of course I don’t have a fax at home so I faxed it that night in dialysis. I impressed upon her that the form had a different number on it and she told me that the form had been revised now, which of course was after it had already been sent to all the applicants. So anyone who got the renewal form this month will not get their bus pass unless they followed up with a call and re-fax to a different number. Oh, and by the way, she informed me that there is a number that I should call in future for inquiries and they will relay a message to her- I  shouldn’t call her direct. How do you do dealing with government departments? Do they frustrate you as well? Do tell.

Another cuppa perhaps? Would you like a sweet, they are very tasty and calorie free. On another note, I was reading an article in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper and paper of record (a national newspaper that carries official and legal notices by government decree) about a group of 3 young men who disappeared from a Winnipeg university in the mid 2000’s read  here  They communicated that they were going to join Al-Qaeda. One man was American and he showed back up in the US – extradited from Pakistan – charged with providing help to terrorists. He has since been incarcerated. The Canadian families of the remaining young men had some hope that their sons would be found and extradited as well, but that is not the policy. Apparently, in its war on terrorism, the American government has been getting a lot of flak at home about killing American citizens who are affiliated with terrorists overseas. Consequently, when possible, they capture and return Americans to the US where they are charged and imprisoned. That being said, they do not have a similar policy for other foreign nationals including Canadians – they are killed on sight when appropriate, often by drones.

Ahmad Waseem, left, of Windsor, Ont., was wounded in combat in Syria. John Maguire, centre, is a former University of Ottawa business student who was under RCMP investigation after leaving for Syria last year. Hasibullah Yusufzai, right, is a B.C. man charged with terrorism in July.

So, it occurs to me that the US government is seeing negative backlash at home when it kills Americans overseas – how do they think everyone else feels when other nationalities are killed by Americans in other countries? And their backlash is coming on proven American terrorists, how do they think others feel when innocent people are killed in American raids and activities? The Americans call this “collateral damage” – I call it generating more terrorists and people worldwide who hate America’s foreign policy, military, and government (note the Oxford comma after “military” – a tribute to Doobster’s punctuation lessons.) What do you think? Does anyone (regardless of nationality) who engages in terrorism or collaborates with terrorists deserve to die overseas even if they have not personally harmed anyone? (For example the terrorists’ bakers and confectioners are considered collaborators and are killed on sight.) And what about the innocents who are killed – those whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

On that note, that’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and watch the fire. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Willow for her invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Willow’s other posts while you’re here. Willow is over there serving her guests and chatting it up. Let’s go see how she is today. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you back here for sweets and beverages of your choice again next week.

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Paul
    Apr 25, 2015 @ 18:10:12

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to participate in the “If We Were Having Coffee” blogging. I am honored that you are so kind as to allow and encourage me to guest post on your blog Willow. Thank you so much. I hope your week has gone well and that your weekend is a good one.

    Reply

    • willowdot21
      Apr 25, 2015 @ 18:18:15

      I tell you what Paul I thought I was going to have a quiet day…… I was wrong!! But I have your blog out there and over on Diana’s coffee share too! Will I get mine done…who knows!
      Paul I can completely empathize with your brush with Bureaucracy they do it on purpose I swear!! xxxxx

      Reply

      • Paul
        Apr 25, 2015 @ 18:30:37

        Ha! Thank you Willow. You could very well be right – they may do it on purpose. The issue is that they are not held accountable. I am considered a cost not a client. i have no choice but to use their services and if i refuse, they save money. That has always been my complaint about government services: they have no competition and are not held accountable for service.

      • willowdot21
        Apr 25, 2015 @ 18:38:50

        Nor do they have any compassion!

  2. simon7banks
    Apr 25, 2015 @ 19:02:38

    For what it’s worth, from the UK, I find at least as many frustrating experiences of this sort when dealing with the private sector. It’s particularly common in the private sector – in big firms – for a customer services person to take the slightest hint of criticism of the service as a personal insult. Public sector people are trained not to do that in most fields. Also many private sector firms have outsourced customer support to India. This is no criticism of the Indian staff, but they’re low paid and given very limited training for the most part and very few of them can cope with situations slightly out of the ordinary. Also the geographical separation means feedback from customer calls is less likely to reach the decision-makers or less likely to be taken seriously.

    We privatised our railways in the 1990s. I ordered tickets for a long journey online and they sent me someone else’s tickets for a completely different journey. Thus began a long and extremely frustrating experience as I tried to get the right tickets.

    Reply

    • willowdot21
      Apr 25, 2015 @ 19:05:38

      It is all a nightmare!!

      Reply

    • Paul
      Apr 25, 2015 @ 19:23:25

      Wow Simon – you really do have problems with service industries, don’t you? I have similar issues with the big conglomerates here in Canada – like our phone giant – Bell Canada. I try to deal with the little guys as much as possible – they care about their customers. Sometimes there is no choice but to use the services of the major players,We have the same issues with dealing with Indian and Pakistani call centers. They are poorly trained and I often have a problem with the accent – difficult to understand.

      In general I find private enterprises – especially the smaller and mid-sized ones – to be better than government agencies.Here is an odd comment – I find Canada Revenue (our tax agency) to be very good to deal with. Some years ago, they had so many complaints that they decided to smarten up. They redid their whole customer service end and they are awesome to deal with. I can get fast service, good advice, helpful employees and understanding attitude. Their forms have been simplified and their public communications is always in plain language. I don’t know who was head of this transition but they did an excellent job. They are an exception though -mostly I get frustrated and upset when dealing with government agencies and, as you pointed out, with large private companies.

      Thanks so much for dropping by Simon. have a great week and please come visit again.

      Reply

  3. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Apr 26, 2015 @ 11:20:14

    I haven’t had a brush with bureaucracy for a while and try to keep off their radar. The people who work in government jobs especially don’t seem to be a happy bunch and seem to take it out on the patient / client.

    What a nightmare, Paul. I don’t wish such a mess up on anyone. Bell Canada is the last headache I had such a lousy run-in with. Wish you a good upcoming week and a Happy Sunday.

    Reply

  4. Diana
    Apr 26, 2015 @ 15:46:11

    Sounds like a frustrating time of it!

    Reply

    • Paul
      Apr 26, 2015 @ 19:49:00

      Oh,it’s all good now that I’ve had a dandy rant. 😀 I mean what would we complain about if there weren’t government employees? Thanks so much for dropping by Diana. It is a pleasure as always to have you visit. Realistically, all those who are involved won’t let me down. I can still make pick up arrangements without a pass, the drivers will not refuse to transport me – I’ve gotten the pass late or misplaced it in the past and they just smile and take me wherever I please. As odd as it sounds (and i seldom use this but it is there) not only are most folks vested in helping others, it would be a very very politically incorrect action to refuse to take a handicapped person to dialysis which saves their lives – when they have no options. One word to any newspaper journalist and the roof would fall in on any number of elected and appointed government officials. I don’t use this and make every effort to play by the rules, as I am grateful for the kindness and caring of others. I am patient and understanding and compliant and make every effort to be ready early, treat all involved with respect and kindness.

      That said, there’s nothing like a good rant to clear the air. 😀

      Thanks so much for dropping by Diana. Please come again.

      Reply

      • Diana
        Apr 26, 2015 @ 23:02:22

        True enough! And as you say, I think most people do actually want to help, especially those who go into such positions as those who work with underserved populations, including those with disabilities. It can be as frustrating for them as for the person on the other end of the phone getting through the bureaucratic tape—but that doesn’t make it any easier, I suppose.

      • Paul
        Apr 27, 2015 @ 05:25:10

        Absolutely right Diana – the biggest complaint you hear from the employees is the bureaucracy. Some of the rules are archaic and pointless. The people that I see – the drivers and such are wonderful. They did a job satisfaction survey over city employees and the ones most satisfied by their jobs were the handicap transportation employees

  5. michelinewalker
    May 27, 2015 @ 01:30:41

    Precious.

    Reply

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