My son got a full time job. That’s great for an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. Since he currently gets Social Security disability benefits, we have to notify them of this “Trial of Work” so he won’t lose those benefits if he is not successful at working full time.
Asperger’s Syndrome makes it difficult for my son to cope with some of the more frustrating bureaucratic technicalities so, being the dutiful mother, the “pleasure” of calling the local S/S office fell to me. The following is a synopsis of that call – or should I say those calls. You’ll see what I mean.
11:00 AM Dialed the local phone number – 50 rings with no answer, then the “circuits busy” busy signal
11:05 AM Redialed the local number – gave up after 20 rings
11:07 AM Dialed the “800” number – call was picked up by the automated call center. “For English, press 1, for Spanish, press 2.” Pressed 1. “If you are calling for general information, you may prefer to go to our website from the comfort of your home or office.” “If you want to apply for S/S retirement or disability benefits, you can do that on our website from the comfort of your home or office.” “If you are calling for general information, say ‘General,’ if you are calling for specific information for yourself or another person, say ‘Personal’.” Personal. “Please say and spell your first name or the name of the person you are calling for.” Firstname – F-I-R-S-T-N-A-M-E. “What I heard was Firtnam – F-I-R-T-N-A-M. Is that correct?” No. “Okay, say and spell your first name.” Firstname – F-I-R-S-T-N-A-M-E. “Okay, I heard Fastname. Is that correct?” No. “Okay, let’s move on. Please say and spell your last name.” Lastname – L-A-S-T-N-A-M-E. “I heard Fastname – F-A-S-T-N-A-M-E. Is that correct?” No. “Please say and spell your last name.” (Big sigh!) Lastname. L-A-S-T-N-A-M-E. “I heard Listnam. L-I-S-T-N-A-M. Is that correct?” NO! “Okay, let’s move on. Please state the social security number of the person for whom you are calling.” 123456789. “I heard 112345678. Is that correct?” Please state the social security number of the person for whom you are calling.” 123456789. “I heard 123456789. Is that correct?” (Amazingly) Yes. “Good. Let’s move on. Please state the date of birth of the person for whom you are calling.” Month date, year. “I did not understand what you stated. Please state the date of birth of the person for whom you are calling.” (Bigger sigh) Month date, year. “Please state the date of the person you are calling for. You can do this in several ways: month date, year; the specific day of the month of whatever in the year whenever; date, month, year.” (Eyes roll up into head.) Month date, year. “I’m sorry I did not understand. Let’s move on. Please indicate the state or territory in which you or the person you are calling for were born.” Massachusetts. “I heard Massachusetts. Is that correct?” Yes. “Okay. I will now transfer you to an agent who will assist you.”
11:17 AM After 5 additional rings, the call is answered by a human being (term loosely used in this particular case.) “Hello, this Agent 1 with the S/S. How can I help you?” I’m calling for my son, as adult with Asperger’s Syndrome who receives disability benefits and is beginning a trial of work. Interruption: “I can’t hear you very well. Can you speak up?” Frustration building … raise voice and repeat myself and continue My son is available on another phone if you need his permission to speak to me . . . Interruption “You need to tell him to hang up that phone so I can hear you better!” He’s not on the phone yet – just near it in case he’s needed. I. . . “You don’t need to shout, madam. You may have to call back so you can get a better connection.” NO. I’M NOT HANGING UP! JUST LISTEN AND LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I NEED TO TELL YOU. CLICK. The woman thought I was upset and she “terminated the call.” She hasn’t seen or heard upset, though she would now if she was still on the phone!! I could spit nickels right now!!!!!
11:21 AM Hit Redial. Repeat the 11:07 AM computer conversation. Call the computer assorted names while listening to its questions again and again and again . . .
11:31 AM Finally spoke to another human being. Lucky for all of us, it wasn’t the same woman. This one was pleasant and helpful. The computer was slow because it was the 1st of the month and a Monday. I understood that. Give some information – wait – more information – wait on hold – more information- wait on hold – more info – more wait … finally, the computer accepts all the info. “We’ll send you a confirmation letter that says you reported this to us and explains what to do in the future.”
I thanked this woman profusely for her assistance. I mentioned that she was the second person I had spoken to and by far the most helpful. The first woman had hung up on me. She was really upset by that – you could hear it in her voice. I truly hope she had a great day.
12:00 Noon Terminated the call by mutual agreement.
It’s a good thing my son didn’t make the call. He’d have been overcome by the frustration. I know – I was!