You may recall the previous adventures of our hero and his attempt to procure an Illinois Driver’s License.
After successfully conquering the Secretary of State and receiving an Illinois driver’s license, our hero was now given a new task, one to be carried out in the domain of a new and vicious enemy, the Illinois Unemployment Office, better known to the natives as “The Office of Utter Chaos.” The challenge would be great indeed.
Mission #1 – File for Unemployment
Time: Time just before reality hits
Upon investigating what my first plan of attack would be, I noticed that there was an option on the Illinois Employment Security website to file for Unemployment online. This was surely a trap meant to ensnare the weaker of us recently laid off. I was determined to not fall for the trap so easily, so I proceeded with caution.
Unfortunately, this option closed almost immediately when I noticed a warning flare spelling out “if you have worked out of Illinois in the last 2 years, you must file in person.”
Seems my journey would not end so quickly, but never did I know the dark and terrifying depths I had just dipped my tow into.
Mission Result: Failure
Mission #2 – File for Unemployment in Person
Location: Unemployment Office on Lawrence Ave in Chicago, IL (wish you were here!)
As I approached the Unemployment Office (or what I would later call His Satanic Majesty), I knew that it would not be easy to slip past the defenses, so I needed to make myself blend in with the masses. My unkempt hair, meatball stained shirt, and Guiness pajama pants might just do the trick.
I entered the building with all the determination of a paratrooper, only to discover that my rules no longer applied. This place was indeed governed by pure and utter chaos. I looked back outside to make sure I was not in a make shift bomb shelter filled with people just trying to survive, but indeed the permanent structure that the Illinois Employment Security office called home. It appeared to be as sturdy a structure as the pure rage and confusion that governed it.
The room itself appeared to be sectioned off into three basic parts, though the random rugs, cubicle walls, and computer desks did not split the room into any sort of pattern, but rather confused the whole floor plan. To the right and left of me were rows of chairs, and a couple tables, filled with people of all shapes, sizes, and clothing. I described the people at the Secretary of State as the huddled masses yearning to breath free. If that was so, then these were the huddled masses arriving at Ellis Island on a slave ship. Directly ahead of me were reception desks, which seem the very logical place to go, though the lack of a line was startling. Nevertheless, I ventured forth.
Before I could make it 6 steps from the door, I hear that all too familiar sound of someone who has allowed a tremendously small amount of power go to their head. It’s the elderly security guard, who asks what I’m there for. “Yeah, I was wondering if you were hiring” I replied. His confusion clearly indicated that he didn’t get the joke, so I came clean. “Yeah, I just need to file for unemployment.” He points to one of the seemingly random piles of paper sitting on his table like some sort of demented bake sale. I take the paper, and he instructs me to sit on the other side of the room, and my number will be called.
I look to the other side of the room, and I notice a couple extra seemingly randomly placed desks where one man with long stringy hair all too reminiscent of a corpse sits. I gather from those around him that he is apparently in charge of new claims. I head to his general side of the room, though there is no clear division between those with new claims, and those with questions on current claims, so I try to sit as near as I can.
I fill out my form and prepare to wait. As I’m filling out my form, I hear a mousy voice like that of a cloud in a very pleasant dream. I look up to discover that this faint sound has originated from the mouth of the corpse-like man, and the words he uttered with all the volume of a ball of yarn being dropped into a pasture of pillows and butterflies, were apparently the numbers we were supposed to be listening for. I think I heard a “sixty…” in the words he mumbled. I arrived at 1pm, assuming that 4 hours would be enough time to file a new claim. I look at my number – 119.
Number after number passes, the man attempting to say the number in both English and Spanish, laughing at his own joke when he said that 90 was “Nintendo” in Spanish. Any chuckle from his little joke was soon passed, when he decided that it was time for a lecture. He turns to all of us, and suddenly finds that with the proper breath support, the voice can actually carry further than 3 or 4 feet. He instructs us all how to fill out our forms, making it very clear that we have all filled out our forms wrong, and there were not words to describe how stupid we were for doing so. But our corpse like savior is here, and thankfully now our forms will be filled out properly, so as to not upset the delicate chaos that ruled all that around us.
The clock ticks by, and I notice it is now 4:15, and he is on number 96. Terror and panic course through my vains as I realize I’m not gonna make it. However, through the dust and smoke, a figure appears. A gentle eyed cross between Mr. Wizard and Mr. Rogers emerges, and says “anyone with a number between 105 and 125 come with me.” It takes all within me to not voice my relief in the tone of a Southern Belle in distress, but instead I stand up, and follow him to a back room. He had garnered so much sheep like trust from us, that he could have easily led us to a back stairwell and shot us all executioner style. But luckily, we were taken to a cramped conference room instead.
I sit for 10 minutes, my form is “processed” (which means it is looked over by the gentle eyed man, then given to someone else in another office somewhere), I’m told that I will receive something in the mail with further instructions, and to call in two weeks if I haven’t heard anything. Surely that couldn’t be all, I thought. The kind man assured me that was all, and I left with a skip in my step.
Now surely two weeks is more than enough time to process a form right? And I would hear from them with further instructions as to what to do next right?………..
TO BE CONTINUED
2 thoughts on “Government Offices Part 2: The Office of Utter Chaos”
OMG my dad (as I’m sure you saw from Facebook) was permanently laid off after 26 years with his company and had to file for unemployment in Chicago (I’m pretty darn sure it was the one on Lawrence!) and told me how unbelievably screwed that office is. His account was quite similar to yours.
And I loved the “are you hiring?” joke. Genius.
I got to file online because I hadn’t worked outside of Michigan in the last ever. But I had to go to a Michigan Works office afterwards, which I assume is a politically correct name for an unemployment office, partly because of the strong similarities to the office in your description. Here, too, there was an absence of a clear line, of employees behind the desk who seemed to be choosing the next person in anything other than an arbitrary way, and of much of a reason for existing for those of us who knew how to use the internet.
I had to tell them I’d processed the claim online, give them the User ID and PIN I had chosen, go type a few things onto the website in their computer, and get my form (on which they had helpfully written the numbers I gave them two minutes ago) stamped. That’s it, rubber stamped. Thank you, State of Michigan. I’m so glad I drove 30 minutes one way for that. I don’t feel that’s a waste of fuel at all.
I think the unemployment system is a conspiracy to keep people employed. By the system. Nothing says job security like incomprehensible layers of government bureaucracy.