24 June 2008

Pussycat on a Hot Tin Roof

Working my own hours in my own private practice is working outrageously well. I've been on leave without pay from the Department of Education for a few years now and although I will hold my job until July next year, I really can't see that I will want to go back to it.

Every now and then I receive a small amount of pay from the department for unexplained reasons. It's usually at the end of the year and has to do with "Leave Loading" which has been explained to me, but I still cannot understand it.

I received a letter the other day from the department telling me ever-so-politely that they overpaid me $500 last year, and could they please have their money back? Would I please call them to sort out the method of re-payment?

I have no doubt that they did overpay me, but due to my goldfish-like incapacity to understand what I get paid and when, it passed through my memory bank without hitting the sides.

Sigh. I had to call them. And although I see myself as a bureaucrat-eating, ball-busting go-getter, when I am talking to a real person whose fault it isn't, I turn into a great big docile pussycat. Double Sigh.


Me: Hello, I have a few questions about this letter I received asking that I pay you an obscene amount of money.

Him: Er, yes, please fire away.

Me: Firstly, what manner of incompetent boob overpays someone and asks for the money back?

Him: Yes, well, that is the usual procedure in these cases...

Me: And presumably it was paid in the first place as leave loading on a salary I am not being paid due to my leave-without-pay status?

Him: Err, it seems that way, yes...

Me: Fine. Well I see in your list of repayment options that it can be taken out of my salary?

Him: Yes, that's right.

Me: M'kay, I choose that option. Have a nice day! (Hangs up.)

Him: But you're not actually being paid a salary... hello? Hello?!? Oooh, I don't think this is going to work. Bother. No bonus for me.
But did I say that? No. Instead of that, I spoke to "Him" above who had no clue whatsoever and gave me the phone number of Beryl, a very cool, efficient, unemotional, polite lady who treated me to the following conversation with my real-life Pussycatness.

Me: Hello, can I talk to you about this letter I've received?

Beryl: Yes, and I can help you arrange the method you'll repay the money.

Me: Err, okaaayyy, I guess I'd also like to ask what manner of ... I mean, who - on earth - um, overpays someone and then has to ask for the money back ...? But I mean of course it wasn't you, certainly not your fault personally, so ... (losing confidence) just wondering who does that, basically ...

Beryl: Well, the Department does, and when that happens, we arrange for the money to be given back.

Me: It just seems a little ...

Beryl: ... because it's taxpayers' money you see. And we can't be wasting taxpayers' money. (This from the Department of Education! Ha!)

Me: Okay, I see. Yes, yes, I get that. Ummm... errr. Okay, well, (but she didn't save me from myself at this point, oh no she didn't, she just waited until the Pussycat found her own tongue and blurted out:) Well, I guess that Direct Debit would be the best for me. And my bank account details are ...
See? Hopeless.


tinsenpup said...

Or maybe you just know how to choose your battles? :)

mommastantrum said...

I am so mean that I cannot be trusted to handle these types of converstaions properly. I think that I need your help - or maybe anger management. Or maybe they could have arranged to take it out of your next leave loading checks? Oh, what do I know, I am an insensitve boob who always makes these poor people cry!

DysFUNctional Mom said...

I try not to take things out on the poor sap who answers the phone, but if they have the nerve to be rude to me? They're gonna get it.
(here from AllMediocre)

musing said...

You're not alone. I would've done the same thing.