Friday, February 15, 2008

Shop Steward vs. GS 7s

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We know fighting authority is a no-win situation. But we just can't stand to waste what we've learned in all those Kung Fu classes!

My beloved husband, Mr. Johnson, is a shop steward for a union. Mr. Johnson is not a human being to be taken lightly. In fact, if you're thinking of taking him at all, please don't! I like him immensely.

This fall my daughter The Heir will begin college.

In preparation for that, Mr. Johnson had to fill out some incredibly lengthy and completely incomprehensible document called the FAFSA.

For those of you who've never heard of this government headache, FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Or Fuck All Families, Students, and Animals. I'm not sure exactly which.

Over the past two days, Mr. Johnson has engaged in an attempt to add two colleges to our daughter's FAFSA application in time for the application deadlines at those colleges. When he went to the online site and tried the procedure, he got a little pop-up box that told him that it took 3 days for changes to be shown on the account. And in those 3 days, he would miss the deadline for the colleges.

(If you're now thinking, "Well, why did la famille Johnson wait until the last minute to do this?" here's my advice to you. Remove your anal ass from "The Gods Are Bored" right now and make those plane reservations for the vacation you intend to take in 2012.)

So, Mr. Johnson calls the FAFSA 800 line and asks why it would take 3 days for something to show up on a computer program, when even the slowest dial-up internet connection can send and email promptly.

The first person he got on the line, a woman, said, "That's just the way it is." Mr. Johnson got huffy. She got huffy. I don't know to this hour exactly what he said to her, but let's just say he fought City Hall. The First Round was a draw.

This is what you learn by being a shop steward. You never stop working until progress is made. With that in mind, Mr. Johnson waited 24 hours and called the same number again.

This time he got a man on the other end of the line. Which meant that all pretense of politeness could be forgotten on both sides. I shouldn't be laughing about this, but I can't help it. Heated words were exchanged, and eventually the Federal Government hung up on Mr. Johnson.

After the first phone call I tried to remind Mr. Johnson that this is George Bush America, where no deed goes unpunished. But you just simply cannot stop a shop steward on a mission. Subtract 110 years and Mr. Johnson would be a Wobblie, as depicted above.

He calls a third time. He gets a young woman. She says, "Well, all you have to do is go to your account and get the DNS code. Then call us back, give us the code, and we'll fix the account right away."

He goes back to the web account. Acquires the DNS code. Calls Fuck the Animals, etc. a fourth time.

This time it's another dude. Mr. Johnson grits his teeth and enters the fray.

The dude takes the code and fixes the problem that could not be fixed for 3 days. It takes 30 seconds.

I've seen Mr. Johnson do this before with plane reservations, which he does not book four years in advance. When an airline tells him a plane is brimming to the plimsol line and has no more seats available, he just hangs up and calls again, and the next operator cheerfully informs him that he's been upgraded to first class on the flight that was supposed to be full.

Am I nervous that those GS 7 customer service reps at Fuck All Famous Stars, or whatever, are gonna turn Mr. Johnson's phone number over to Big Brother? You betcha. In Stalinist Russia, they'd have already rounded Mr. Johnson up for mass extermination. But, sighhhh, this is America. He'll probably get off with a light waterboarding, after which our tax returns will be audited for the rest of our lives.

But never mind that. The stupid colleges got their stupid form that everyone has to fill out even though you've gotta be living in the subway to qualify for government financial aid.

The Chinese curse says, "May you live in interesting times." If I can say anything about the life I've shared with my beloved since 1793, it's that we've lived in interesting times. Hopefully things will get boring, but I wouldn't count on it.



Juanuchis said...

I graduated college in 1985, in the Jurassic. My Colombian-born husband decided in the last 6 weeks that he wanted to pursue an associate's degree at Fairmont State University.

Behold the FAFSA! What the hell? We got a small loan from Sallie Mae to get him started, but in order for FSU to accept said loan money, we still had to fill out a FAFSA.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It was so much simpler in the Jurassic. The books were cheaper too.

yellowdog granny said...

of course you know that chinese saying is meant to be a curse...not a good thing..ha...
i worship at mr.johnson's feet...he shot the sheriff..

BBC said...

After that expensive collage education she can start getting her education.

Depending on what she is going to collage for of course. If it's to be a doctor or scientist or something like that it will be useful if she sticks with those fields.

Ever ask her what she wanted to be when she was 6 or 7? That is a good indication of what she should try to be, even if it isn't high paying.

Life here really isn't about money you know.

BBC said...

Ah, A union man, I approve of unions even though I wasn't in them for many years.

But their very existence helped my jobs pay better than they would have without unions.

I don't approve of unions getting to greedy though, and some do.

Anonymous said...

So why did youins wait till the last minute? :-)

Anne Johnson said...

Because we're normal.

sott'Eos said...

You should start a site, if there isn't one already, like a "FAFSA FAQ". You could post this incredible tip, and save tens of thousands of students (parents) from missing-out an applying to colleges like this.

Then others can post their tips, until all of the sharp corners of the FAFSA process, have been covered with people-friendly knowledge-bumpers. The power of the Internet to enable the masses only works if we work it.