What if money were no object?

I would read all the books, learn all the dances, crochet all the things, and play with my kids all the games. How to turn that into a living is beyond me. What about you?? What makes YOU itch?

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Child Support Surrealism

This is me calling Child Support Enforcement. This is after speaking to the rep and waiting for the supervisor. Can you read my mind?

This is me calling Child Support Enforcement, on hold for a supervisor. Can you read my mind?

To call or not to call, that is the question.

Oh Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Child Support Enforcement Office, I just can’t decide if you improve or deteriorate my quality of living.

I called them today. I’m still unsure whether or not that was a good idea. I’m still unsure whether or not my calls actually matter to anyone other than myself. I’m still unsure whether my calls affect anything else other than my sanity.

I was on hold for 27 minutes which I guess isn’t bad compared to the record of one hour and one minute hold time in December. This time, it was Warren on the line which brought this to mind

Empire Records

Empire Records

Warren let me know that the gorbellied common-kissing jointhead (thanks Will) went into the Enforcement Office on January 23. He went in to negotiate a lower payment to have his license reinstated and was denied because when they pulled him up in the system, he had multiple child support obligations.

Pause. What!?

Apparently there is a note in the file that they denied him renegotiation because he has other cases that are delinquent. As in other children.

Now listen ladies and gents, this clouted fat-kidneyed boar-pig maybe a compulsive liar with a penchant for pulling cons, but if there is one thing I am 99.9% certain about him is that there are no other children. Previous pregnancies prior to mine? My understanding is yes and that it was terminated. Warren was all skeptical of me and my insistence on this and I knew with this horrible cold feeling in my gut this must happen all of the time, so I dropped it.

Warren said they were still waiting on that Income Deduction Order to go into effect. He also reassured me that they made sure to tell him he had to continue making child support payments until the Income Deduction Order went into effect. Ohmygodthankyousmuch for telling him that!! I bet you anything you guys changed his ways and made him realize what a horrible misunderstanding it was!! And clearly it worked well because I have gotten zero payments except for the $100 payment he made that day to get his license reinstated.

So you know, I had to wait until March but then not really because at that point they would send a follow-up letter giving the company another 20 days to comply and do you guys know what they do after that? They… send another letter… giving them another 20 days to comply. And then they would go and try and find a different employer he might be at. Oh and by the way, little known fact here– when an Income Deduction Order is pending, like this one, all other enforcement efforts stop. In other words, even if he doesn’t make the payments he was instructed to, they cannot proceed with enforcement until the total 100 days have passed.

So I’m all dismayed and stuff and about to hang up and then I’m like, “I need a supervisor please.” And then Warren was like, “Not a problem but I need to explain to the supervisor what the call is about” which I think is their way of asking “Sh!t am I in trouble? You’re not gonna tattle on me are you?” And then I was all like, “I just want to go over this enforcement stuff and the thing with the multiple obligations stuff or something.” “Oh ok sure” which means “Oh my god I’m not in trouble thank you lord jesus”.

So then, I got put on hold again but was so dismayed I didn’t even care about how long it was for and took that picture up there instead because I felt like this was crazy and worth documenting and it wasn’t even that long really before Ray was on the phone.

Do you remember Ray? I remembered Ray. Ray was the supervisor I spoke to the day I had a horrible experience with one of the customer representatives who was just telling me complete and utter nonsense and acting like she knew exactly what she was talking about when it was obvious she totally didn’t. Ray was all like “What the hell is going on with this case and why are people telling you crazy stuff!?!?! I will fix your case!!!” Which you know, A for effort on that one Ray but…

“Wow this case has only gotten $100?” he asks me. Yup. Ray turns out to be my senior case analyst and I really like him because he digs and finds things out and makes me feel like someone is actually caring about my case and is going to help things get done but it also makes me completely curious just how the hell these people do their job because no one knows what anyone else is doing and yet it seems like fifty million people can affect one particular case.

So Ray gets caught up with the case, because let’s be real– the guy hasn’t looked at it since the day I called him in November for sure. And then Ray lets me know what really happened. Are you ready? Are you sure you’re ready? Do you have a tasty snack? Do you want to get a cool beverage, or a hot one if you’re freezing your bum off somewhere?

And get ourselves a snack!

And get ourselves a snack!

Ok

On January 23, the beslubbering beef-witted barnacle did indeed come to the Child Support Enforcement Office. They updated his information because he informed them the Employer information they had on-file (yes the one with the pending Income Deduction Order) was out of date and he gave them new Employer Information. He said he needed his license back. They told him that was fine, he just had to pay $1028.00. He said he didn’t have that kind of money. They said too bad. That’s where the story should end. Right there. But it doesn’t.

He explained that he has a new job but that without a valid license, he could not have this job. He probably explained what the consequences of not having a job would be as far as possible future child support payments go. Maybe he lamented the economy and told them about how much horrible stress he’s been on lately and how absolutely dreadful he feels about not being able to support his dear children the way he wishes he could, nay the way they deserve.  I don’t freaking know. But whatever he did, he convinced the person to take it up with a supervisor, who is not Ray because these negotiations happen “downstairs” and they are not involved with them, and then he convinced the supervisor to help him out.

So they said if he paid the $100 he claimed was all he had, they would reinstate the license. This is the bit where they also explained they would be sending the new employer the Income Deduction Order but that he must make child support payments until the Income Deduction Order went into effect. They probably thanked him for coming in. They probably wished him good luck with this new job and hoped times would be better for him. I don’t freaking know.

All I know is he walked out of there with a reinstated license and put a freeze on all enforcement efforts again for up to another 100 days. For $100. With an arrears amount over $19k and a past due amount that is now over $11k. After going six months without making any type of payment whatsoever.

Did they verify his claim of employment before agreeing to his offer of $100 to reinstate the license? Did they verify the other employer is indeed invalid? No. They don’t do that. They take their word for it.

They. Take. Their. Word. For. It.

They take their word for it!!!!

There are a couple more minor surreal notes to add to this already surreal story.

First of all, I explained to Ray that I know crazy things happen all the time but I was pretty confident that my children were his only children and that I was concerned that note was on the case file because what if it were to start complicating other things? Ray was hesitant and he clarified he could only discuss MY case information with me. But he looked up his social. And guess what????????

My kids are his only kids. So what is that note doing there? Was it an error? Did someone just look up his name, which also happens to be kind of common? Or did he maybe lead them to believe he had other children he was having trouble supporting? I have no idea but someone put a total bullshit note on my case file.

Second of all, he went to the Child Support office on January 23rd. He gave them the information for the new employer which most likely triggered the close of the other employer’s case. They sent the Income Deduction Order today, February 15. Twenty three days later.

He has had a valid license and a new job for twenty three days, has made no payments at all, and they just sent the Income Deduction Order that gets the 100 day process started, today. So he got himself, potentially, 123 days.

It amazes me, time and again, how inefficient something critical can be. I called the company I had information for, aka the apparent now Former Employer (seriously I lost track of how many jobs he’s had since we split). The receptionist informed me that although she was new, she was pretty certain he didn’t work there because she couldn’t find him on her listing. It took less than two minutes. If I was actually calling for someone else as part of my job, I would have left a message with the HR woman she transferred me to just to be absolutely sure and to get some real closure on something.

I love technology. I love automation. I really do. But we must always remember that computers, as brilliant as they are, are actually stupid. And as efficient as automation can be, humans are not automatic. In other words, when applying technology and automation to a human problem, one cannot simply remove a human from the process. My frustration lies with the fact that I am working with a group that does not (for whatever reason) do the work needed to actually address the problem of non-paying non-custodial parents. Every time I call, I am forcing a human into the process. And there is resistance. That is why the first layer is the representatives who answer the phone. My experience tells me they are often poorly trained, have no power, and don’t really comprehend the majority of their job. It is almost as if they are trained to be the buffer against reinserting humanity into an automated process.

This issue burns me up. It’s not even on a selfish, personal level either. Every time I call and deal with the incompetence at the Enforcement Office I am reminded me of the (now cruel) words of the intake coordinator who processed my case in the beginning– “Oh your case is an easy one!” And the fact remains, despite the insanity that I have been going through with this case, there are by far worse situations that end up there. There are non-custodial parents who flee the county, state, even country. There are non-custodial parents with children with three, four, five different custodial parents. There are non-custodial parents who intentionally leave the workforce and go on benefits to not pay child support. And so I burn inside for those cases too. Because if they can’t get mine straight and mine is really not that complicated, then surely there is no way a meatier case ever  gets close to resolution.

And so I hate calling because there is just never a positive experience with Child Support Enforcement. But I also must call because no one at that office cares about my children and their needs and no one at that office is doing the actual complex work that needs to get done to care for the children of this state. So I’ll keep nagging and pushing and escalating. I’ll keep getting worked up and I’ll keep fighting those frustration tears and I’ll keep trying to make a connection with someone, anyone, there.

Child Support Call of the Day

Time call placed: 3:06 PM

Hold Time: 1 hour, 1 minute

Analyst: Forgot to get the name!

Details: Called to let them know he started a new job and to provide details of new job. I gave them the information. They say it takes a week to send out the Income Deduction Order but the company has 60 days to set it up on their side for garnishment.

Call Duration: 1 hour, 6 minutes, 17 seconds.

 

 

If you’re thinking about a new bank…

Here is a light post until I get together a proper response to your amazing comments on the $tre$$ post because they were wonderful enough to warrant their own proper response and I’m in a calmer place now too.

So ING Direct is having a big savings sale like they do every Black Friday weekend. The one that benefits you and me the best is the Electric Orange deal. If you open a checking account using my referral account with a $250 deposit by December 15, I get $100 bucks and you get $25. If you open that account by tomorrow and use the debit card ten times in 45 days, you get $125 on the 50th day.

I love my Electric Orange account. If you have problems overdrafting your account, this will help you in a big, big way. They don’t charge you fees per transaction and they have a tiny overdraft limit to keep you in check. This account has saved me again and again and again. And I know I can use $100 and I know chances are pretty good you could use $150. So there you go. I hope this helps you out!

$tre$$

I thought that maybe I had shaken off most of it, but I was wrong. There is nothing like the holidays to stress me the heck out. What can I say? I’m freaking out about Christmas and fighting like hard not to freak out about Christmas at the same time.

Christmas is something I had set aside money for several months ago. But when child support evaporated, so did all of my savings, even Christmas. So now, I’m trying to figure it all out. I’m making things like crazy. Well, that’s not true. I was making things like crazy and then I slowed down considerably and pretty much stopped because I got burned out. I’m trying to start things up again.

The problem with stress is it’s very distracting. You try and focus on something and it wriggles and wiggles it’s way around your brain as it moves towards the center stage of your thoughts.

This year, the kids will be spending Christmas Eve with their father. They come to my house Christmas Day around noon. We are going to have  Christmas Cookie Party that day. I think that it will be a lot of fun. And maybe it will distract the kids from a really skimpy Christmas tree.

This is where I begin to flounder, to worry, to conflict myself. My kids are blessed with a large, loving extended family who will surely shower them with gifts the way they do at every special occasion. They have a ton of stuff no matter how much I have them go through their toys and get rid of things. So there’s a battle in me– I know they don’t need or even want more stuff but I want to give to them. So I feel bad about not having any money to buy much for Christmas this year and at the same time I don’t feel bad about not participating in the relentless consumerism that so deeply affects this country. The kind of consumerism that fuels this kind of irony…

People trample each other for cheap goods mere hours after being thankful for what they already have

So I am struggling with that inner conflict at the same time I am stressing about the usual stress I have been dealing with regarding bills and life’s necessities. This means child support still hasn’t shown up in any way, shape, or form. If I understand the state attorney’s office correctly, that means his license is either suspended or about to be suspended any day now. I haven’t called them back since that last post. I probably will next week. I’m a pest but I don’t have a choice in the matter.

Their father told me he is starting a new job on the first, that they are in the negotiation stage right now. He told me the same exact thing, word for word, a few months ago. If it IS true, it would of course be that just about the time the state attorney’s office should be linking up to the unemployment office to garnish those checks, he would be starting a new job and stop collecting unemployment therefore starting the garnishment process anew all over again. It’s enough to make you laugh the maniacal laugh of loony bins.

Today, I’ll be staying home doing the laundry and working on crocheted gifts. We already watched Elf but it made me cry so I don’t think I’ll be putting on any more Christmas movies today. Today, the kids are going to make their Christmas lists but I am going to do something different. I am going to give them a paper with four sections: Something I want, Something I need, Something to wear, and Something to read. I’ll let them fill each section out with a couple of things in each category and use that as my guiding light this Christmas. I think it’s better this way than a free for all.

I hope you enjoy your weekend. I’m trying to do just that.

What Would My Readers Do? The Car Edition

As I mentioned yesterday, my car is not doing well. Here are the main points:

It’s a 2003 Nissan Murano. It was a car I purchased used six years ago. My payments were about $400 a month and I just paid it off now. Not sure why it took six years when it was a five year loan but whatever that’s not the point.

It has 120k+ miles on it.

Previous owner apparently did not change the oil regularly so there is something wrong with the motor that causes it to burn oil. I have taken the car in for regular oil changes to find it almost completely empty. This has been happening for about 3 years.

There is something wrong with the transmission. It is drivable but makes a TAP TAP TAP noise and a TINY little shudder when it comes to a stop. Also when you are doing the slow backing out or pulling into something maneuver where you have your foot kind of on and off the brake, the noise is much more persistent and the shudder more obvious too.

My parents and Stallion are both of the opinion that I should not invest in the car further. Mostly their concern is the oil burning thing and that a tranny repair is likely to be costly. I haven’t gotten an estimate yet but our mechanic who does not handle trannies is concerned as well.

My parents , god bless them, have proposed two things to me. They both include the same thing– I sell my car.

They want me to either:

  • Give my dad whatever proceeds I get from my car and take over the payments he is making on HIS car– a 2010 Mazda something (I think Mazda 5). It’s a six passenger car. He has three and a half years left on it and the monthly payments are about $250.
  • Trade my car in and they will co-sign a lease/loan for a new car for me.

I don’t like any of these options. I also don’t like the option where I sell my car and get something else used. I also don’t like the option of investing into the car further if the thing’s a hot mess, and the bottom line is my parents would have to help me pay the repair bill. I’m completely stumped and everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do about the car.

I’m tired of spending money on cars but I need a car. I use public transportation to get to work and back but to get the kids to school, I need the car. And to do almost everything else, I need the car. And now with Stallion working retail and going to school and having crazy hours all over the place, I can’t even say I’ll only use my car during the week.

So, what do you brilliant amazing readers think I should do?

Red Tape

The counter on my phone showed it was 47 minutes and 5 seconds when a live voice came on the phone. I’d almost forgotten I was on hold and it took me a second to gather myself. It was my monthly call to the State Attorney’s Child Support Enforcement office.

The latest call revealed the following:

The case is no longer in the matching stage, it is now in the updating stage. They had heard back from the court and verified the court order. Now they were updating the computer with all of the court order and case information. As a matter of fact, there was an update made September 24th.

What’s next?

Well the computer has to be full updated with all of the information. When that happens, it waits for the next payment as dictated by the court order. In this case, it’s a bi-weekly court order. Once it sees payments are being missed it starts sending out enforcement letters.

How many payments does it need to see missed?

I don’t know.

Doesn’t it show payments have been missed since June?

Well yes but the computer doesn’t count those. It starts counting from when it’s fully updated.

And when will it be fully updated?

Oh I can’t really tell you. But I’d call back every three weeks and see if any correspondence has gone out.