1. The website says I can’t apply online for unemployment insurance, because I worked in two different states within the last 18 months.
  2. So yesterday, I go to Employment Security, located on a street with no road sign and no sign indicating Employment Security is on this street. Like a Speakeasy in the 1920’s. Like an alcoholic in the 1920’s, I find it.
  3. I’m told to call in my claim. There are a line of phones from the 1980’s with thin partitions between them. The guy next to me is as loud as I would have been if I had gotten through. Instead, through the crackling connection, I hear that, due to a high volume of calls, my claim cannot be filed at this time. Please call back later. I am advised that I can do this from home using one of three different numbers. So I go home.
  4. I try each of the three numbers, each of which goes to the same virtual place. Sometimes I get to the guy, who asks some questions. After keying in some significant numbers, I’m treated to the song featured in any given Lifetime movie from the ‘90’s that kids are partying to when the parents unexpectedly come home early from their trip. You know, what the middle-aged producers too cheap to get copyrighted music thought young people would be gettin’ down to. After 10 minutes of this, a woman’s recorded voice asks me some more questions. Then 3 songs with no genre loop, interspersed with helpful hints about unemployment and the news that all agents are helping others at this time. Finally, she tells me that due to a high volume of calls, my claim cannot be filed at this time, but that I can apply online. Even though I can’t.
  5. Seriously, I try about 28 more times. Finally she doesn’t say that. I’m on hold, and I’m not kidding, for 2 hours. I stay, grateful for the chance, reading The Life of Pi, listening to the not-really music and fun facts loop. For 1 hr. and 45 minutes, the estimated wait time was always 25 minutes. For the last 15 minutes it was 20 minutes. I’m watching the clock, fearful of the 4:30 deadline.
  6. Finally, I get a person. She’s a bitch, but a live one. I tell her the two states in which I’d worked. Where did you work in California? she asks. North Carolina, I correct. Whatever, she corrects.
  7. My claim is filed. With a half-hour to spare.
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