Wednesday, June 09, 2004

There are four baby squirrels in the locust tree across from my bedroom window. Probably about six or seven weeks old, still with big heads and skinny tails. They swarm and hop awkwardly throughout the tree's higher branches, their wide eyes somehow managing to simultaneously convey both dazed daffiness and mischief.

I like to think I contributed to their existence, since I fed their mother while she was pregnant. So they're kind of my grandkids, in a furry little way. The bad thing is I haven't made the four-hour trek to Meijer in over a month, so I have been out of peanuts for several weeks now. Must get peanuts soon so I can establish relationship with new squirrels!!

This morning my [house] apartment is covered in a fine black grit. Well, not so much "this morning," but rather "of late," since there has been massive construction on my street ever since the snow mostly melted, which wasn't as long ago as one might think—-but I digress. I guess I should go around and clean it all off, but it just appears again instantly. Also, any kind of home maintenance is second or third priority right now, unless it's something overtly dangerous or smelly.

This week I am trying to finish (yet another) draft of the results section for my thesis, so I can defend this puppy soon and finally get going on my dissertation. I also finally completed four or five satisfying hours of filing last night that had been accumulating (in some cases) since over a year ago. Usually I play catch-up on those kinds of things at each academic break, but the events last summer pretty much knocked the world out from under me for a while, and then I was going to get back on track over winter break, and you know what was going on it's nice to finally feel on an even keel again. I even got to take all the class binders out of my bookcase and replace them with the textbooks that had been lying in piles on the floor for months!

One of the things I discovered in a pile of neglected papers was a credit report featuring two mysterious items that may explain why my credit rating dropped for no reason recently.

One item was (and of COURSE it just had to be back to haunt me) the business with Eastern in which they had mis-entered both my birth date AND my social security number into their system, thus making the national loan registry think I was not actually in school, and therefore must be defaulting on my student loans. It took me SEVEN MONTHS to get that fixed, and it didn't actually get changed until I had kind of a yelling meltdown in the registrar's office. Note that this is extremely rare for me, but nothing else had worked.

"Well, if the information is wrong," the student employee behind the desk said accusingly, (this after six months of my visiting the office, and them assuring me they were about to go fix it that day, and then not doing it, until the day I noticed that the interest on all my credit cards went up,) "then you'll have to go get your [what was it—-birth certificate? Passport? Social security card? I can't remember] and bring it in, and do this, and do that...blah blah blah...

I finally told them in an angry, loud, and shaking voice that it was their mistake, that I had sent in all the necessary required ID when I applied at the dang school in the first place, that copies would already be in my file if they would bother to just look at it for once!! —and so on.

So they took me somewhere where there was a chair (to halt my frothing) and finally actually looked in my file, saw that I was right, changed the information, and even made a few phone calls on my behalf. (Only took six or seven months and some yelling.)

I had to go through variations of this at several different offices across EMU's campus, since once the faulty information had been disseminated, it couldn't be "taken back" without considerable effort on my part. In fact, for my first three years here, I could not check out materials from the library because there had been such a mess made of my ID, including yet another individual (that makes three!) entering my student ID number wrong on the electronic strip of my ID card.

The situation was never fixed, although on four separate occasions different people thought they had fixed it for me. So while all the other grad students were happily (?) checking things out, getting interlibrary loans, and requesting documents from distant storage, I was doing my research for the most part without those things. What ended up happening to change it was that EMU switched to another system in which someone actually entered my ID correctly so that now, in my fourth year, I am finally able to check out books!

Too bad my classes are over and I am beginning teaching, because now they are denying my checkout rights on the basis that I am not registered for classes next autumn. >sigh<

So anyway, after the little frothing incident at the registrar's office, I received a letter from Direct Loans telling me that the problem had "been taken care of" and all negative information had been removed from my credit report. (I gleefully posted this letter on the door of my office.) So it just figures that it would be back now, and now I'll probably have to fight each individual credit bureau separately for another six months about it. Again.

The other item is a "new" $150 delinquent account from SBC. This is very odd, since I don't think I have had any account go delinquent in maybe a decade. There are no bills I have been ignoring. Also, I have no cable anything (internet, TV, etc.)—I don't even have a landline phone. What would I have an SBC account for? So that definitely sounds like a screw-up of some kind. Great, just what I need—-more help with screwing up my credit rating! More hours of phone calls to skeptical bill-collectors!

Combined with the recent screw-up at the IRS in which they lost my pathetic $103 money order and are now trying to make me pay it twice (the money order company shows it as having been cashed, of course,) I have had to spend a lot of woman-hours just fixing dumb mistakes that other people have made, that have made my life a lot harder. (And why, might I ask, are these errors never biased in my favor? As a statistician of sorts, I must say that the probability of that seems a bit low.) What happens to people who don't even understand their credit, or are afraid to complain about stuff?

This, folks, is the exact reason that I will not be happy the day they decide to give us implanted chips /barcode tattoos attached to some kind of national database with our personal /medical /academic /financial information. (As much as I like the idea of the convenience and simplicity.) Because the unfortunately dyslexic people at Eastern (and maybe the IRS too, I guess) who should clearly have some other job besides entering my personal numeric information into sensitive systems that affect my entire life, are now out on the streets looking for jobs entering your personal numeric information into even bigger sensitive systems that will affect your entire life.

This is also the reason I end up just standing outside, feeding the squirrels, drooling softly and staring walleyed into the distance...


argotnaut said...

It's true . . . the world *is* run by C students!

liz said...

That sounds like it should be a Lisa Simpson quote.

Gwen said...

Was so ashamed to be a public servant after reading about your runaround that I momentarily forgot to thank you on behalf of all squirrels for feeding the babes. You are a true friend to squirrels. Perhaps all squirrels could rise up and nibble evil bureaucrats to death on your behalf.

liz said...

But anyone *literate* working with the public is a priceless treasure!

Like the lady from the IT desk at the library who trained me in WebCT today, so I can have online components when I teach classes next year.