(not) Coping with Bureaucracy

    February 2012          
Search the Jewish Magazine Site: Google


Search our Archives:

Opinion & Society


How Do They Stay In Business?

By Erica Stux

When I moved to the West Coast, I was soon overjoyed to discover that I could give my accordion a new lease on life. For years it had languished in a far corner of my closet, never, I thought, to be brought to life again, unless one of the children or grandchildren would express an interest.

I found out the local conservative temple had a klezmer band that could use an accordion player. So I joined the group, playing the traditional melodies at evening services, and folk songs at celebrations. This went on for several years. One day I came across a mailing from my previous employer, which stated if an employee or retiree does any kind of volunteer work in his or her community, the company would give a monetary award to the organization that benefitted from the volunteer hours. A light went on in my head! Isn't that what I've been doing for years? What temple wouldn't be happy with an increased income, however slight?

I put in a call to the company, and soon I pulled an application from my mail box. I filled it out and sent it on to the temple for the executive director's signature. A month later the completed form came back to me with a cover letter stating that all applications had to be made online; no hard copy would be accepted. So why did they send me the forms in the first place? And why couldn't they take my information and enter it into their computer?

For several weeks I was busy with other things and did not follow up on this. But now and then I wondered whether my action should have been an angry complaint to the company rather than a request for an award to my sponsoring organization.

I finally read the instructions again. I would need my ID number at the company and my password. I didn't have a clue as to either one. I called a number listed in the instructions and explained what I needed. The nice lady on the line found my ID number, but several minutes of searching on her part did not produce my password.

"I think I remember it now," I told her. "Thank you anyway."

At my computer I logged onto the appropriate department of the company. I typed in my ID number and password and hit 'submit'. Oh-oh! I guess that was not my password.

I called another phone number at the company and explained that I need my password. The employee said, "You have to call this number . . . ."

I said, "I already talked to them; they couldn't find it."

"Are you calling about the matching gifts program?"

"No, I'm calling about volunteering my time."

"Well, I can register you for that over the phone."

"But I don't know my password."

"You don't need it to register by phone."

She took my information. "Do you need the organization's phone number?" I asked.

"No, we'll send them a letter."

"Can I give you the address?"

"No, we already have that. You're registered now."

I hung up, shaking my head. The company may have a matching gifts program, but they're matchless in leading a would-be registrant through needless red tape.

Several months went by. One day I decided to email the company to make sure they had my registration. I cited my ID number and explained I had given the needed information over the phone.

Three days later a reply came: The grant request was declined because religious organizations are not eligible for the program.

Of the four entities involved in this hoopla - me, the band, the temple, and the company - which was the most incompetent party in this fiasco?


from the Febuary 2012 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

Material and Opinions in all Jewish Magazine articles are the sole responsibility of the author; the Jewish Magazine accepts no liability for material used.

Please let us know if you see something unsavory on the Google Ads and we will have them removed. Email us with the offensive URL (www.something.com)