In part one I learn that no matter what you do you can not help but get screwed by UE. This employee seemed to take great glee in telling me that unless I pulled off the possibly impossible I would have my benefits revoked. And probably have to pay back the previous months of benefits I had received.
I get a letter in the mail on a Monday ordering me to the UE office at 1pm Wednesday for a check up on my job log and to supposedly help me find job leads. The second part is totally bogus. Now the only problem is that I have a job interview scheduled 45min away at 1:30 on Wednesday. Now what do I do. I call the unemployment office to see if I can reschedule. Nope no reason short of a written declaration from the almighty that WA state must excuse me is an excuse for missing an appointment and they do not under any circumstances including said declaration reschedule appointments for log checks. So what happens if I miss the appointment? It will cause my benefits to be revoked and I would be ineligible to be reinstated for X months. So I ask the person at UE what happens if I can't reschedule my interview (even if I tried but the prospective employer wouldn't do it) for another time. Well that counts as failing to show to an interview which makes me ineligible for benefits in WA for X months. Um can you say Catch 22 here. So the end of the story was that I was able to reschedule the interview for the following Wednesday morning which was the next time the corporate HR guy was going to be in the area (he is responsible for all of WA and OR). But I was not surprised when I got an email on Friday informing my that my interview was being canceled since they had filled the position. That was a real bummer since it would have been a perfect working environment for my special needs and very close to home.
In part two I get a letter for yet another log check. This one last February. This happens to fall on my birthday so I have to call and cancel my birthday lunch with my friends that I had been looking forward to. To schedule this some friends had to take time off work and others had to find child care so it was not as if we could easily reschedule. But oh well such is the winds of fate. And just to add fun to it it decided to snow on that particular February day. Now to those in other states snow is not a big deal. Here in Western WA it causes all hell to break loose and that if only 2 flakes fall. Our area got a good 6 plus inches by lunch . This is enough to bring traffic to a screeching halt. Well thank god I have a 4WD (on demand AWD actually I never put it in 4WD unless I'm driving on ice) and know how to drive in the snow/ice so I make it too the appointment. (thank you ex hubby for teaching me to drive 18 wheelers across the country) You'd think that with most other govt offices closing early UE would too but no they much torture their benefit recipients every possible moment of the day.
I will add a bit of background here. I suffer from a number of mental health issues (anxiety and ptsd being the easiest to explain). As a result I travel with a service dog. She is the dog in my pic. She is a 12lb dachshund. When she is working she wears a bright white linen vest with the words service dog embroidered in bright red letters about an inch high. This is big writing on a little dog. But per ADA/WA State requirements she is CLEARLY labeled as a service dog.
So let the true fun begin. I walk up to the receptionist and type my info into the key pad to report in. I then proceed to sit in an unobtrusive corner at the other end of the reception counter. I don't do well in crowed rooms and I don't like to draw attention to myself or my dog. I am sitting there with the dog in my lap petting her and trying to stay calm in a crowded room. She is standing up on my chest and putting her face in mine to let me know my anxiety level is "unacceptable" and trying to wind me down. We go thru that part every time I go to this office or any other super crowed office where I have to meet with strangers. I have been there at least half a dozen times since loosing my job and the receptionist has been the same chick every time. So this time she cops an attitude loudly informing me that I can not have an animal in the office. I pipe up loudly enough to say she is a service dog and twist her so the lady could clearly see her label. At this point every other person over the last 10 yrs has stopped hassling me. Not this bitch. She then informs me it doesn't matter animals are not allowed in the building. At this point my anxiety is creeping thru the roof. My face is beet red, I am sweating and shaking like a leaf. I inform her that according to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) by law I can have her with me. I have a card with the legal wording in my purse but I am shaking so much I can't manage to get into my wallet and pull it out. Now very loudly so the entire room can hear (and she is making quite a scene and has every ones undivided attention) she demands that I explain to her exactly what my disability is and why I need my dog. At this point I am trying to melt into the furniture and my dog is wiggling like a mad creature trying to get off my lap and pull me out of the room to someplace safe (her training is to do exactly that). Now I know I can't leave because if I do I will miss my appointment and loose my benefits.
While all this is going on the person who is supposed to be interviewing my for my log check has apparently been calling my name. I can't hear this because I am shutting down in the corner. Finally she comes to the receptionist and she points at me and starts talking to the other UE lady really quick and low while pointing at me. The last thing I hear the receptionist saying to this woman is a demand to have her verify my disability while interviewing me. I manage to get back to the cubicle and hand off my log sheet. I don't manage to give more than one word answers to this woman. She at least was smart enough to notice that I was about to melt down and made it the quickest interview I have ever seen. She takes my sheets and prints out a new sheet of jobs hands them to me tells me to apply and email her when I do and walks me out to the office. She never once asked me about my disability or why I had my dog. I think she knew how out of line the receptionist was. The sad part was that I actually had hoped to get some questions answered about going back to school and what not since I had been pushing nearly a year on UE at that point. I was in no shape to get that information and well still don't have it because talking to humans at UE is nearly impossible unless you are called in by them. I could not get out of the building fast enough. I got out to my car and called a friend about half an hour later to drive me home because I had to chow down on a number of anti anxiety meds which make driving questionable (think DUI) and impossible in the snow.Thank heavens the one other person I knew who could really drive in the snow (he's from IL) was available to come and get me.
This part did end well. A few days later i found a link for the head of UE for the state in Olympia (state capitol) and sent him a rather pointed email about my experience. A few days later I got a bit of a panicked call from him wanting details and apologizing like a teenager about to get grounded. I told him simply I didn't want anything special from UE, I wasn't planning on suing or taking it up with other state agencies. I simply wanted the bitch in the receptionist chair instructed on the ADA. I believe I told him she should have to write out the pertinent chapters 100 times each so they sank in. Yes my sarcasm button was pressed for full throttle by that point. Now even more interesting. I was being called in every 6-8 weeks for a log check before that and every time I had to renew for extended benefits I had to jump thru all the hoops from step one. Since then I have not received a single review request and my last extension went thru without me filling out a single form. The only way I knew I was being extended was a voice mail from a guy asking me to verify that I still used a service dog so that section could be checked off on my file. I left him a voice mail and my benefits kept right on coming.