The torture of Dept. of Human Services

 

photoSalvia Nr 1

Salvia

Our day will involve getting our travel concession travels sorted out. I  felt so proud a few weeks ago. I finally managed to get our Opal travel cards. This is the card you need when catching trains, buses or even a ferry. You get to tap it on a metal pole at the beginning of the journey as well as at the end. The pole seems to recognize your unique profile and deducts the cost of your travel from this magic card. It seems rather lugubrious that we are now identifiable by plastic cards that we store in our wallets. What happens to my ‘profile’ after I am gone? Will I just be remembered by my Opal card?

It wasn’t an easy journey to finally get this card. A big problem with modernity is that no matter where one goes or what one intents to achieve, one needs to log on to something. The logging on is presented as a heaven on earth. ‘Just log on to some dot.com. and the world is your oyster.’ As if! What they don’t tell you is that as soon as one tries and ‘log on’ it asks for your profile. This is some kind of internet mug shot. To establish this profile one needs a password. This password needs to be well hidden and it is suggested to write it down. I had a booklet of those passwords but I have lost it. Almost all dotcoms tell you to never let anyone know your passwords.  As soon as I got yet another password I quickly used to write it down in my special red coloured password booklet. But this booklet was so well hidden, it is lost.

This in reference to a letter addressed to ‘Dear Gerard.’ from the Dept. of NSW transport. It seems  we are no longer eligible for the Gold Opal card. (because of a change in our circumstances.) We both need to act and cancel our Gold Opal card and change over to a different Opal card. If we don’t we will not only lose our Gold Opal card but also lose any credit that still exists on our present cards.

The sting is that to achieve the change you need to log on to opal.com.au. As my passwords are so well hidden they are lost I can’t log on. However we could also go to a real office and get it changed manually by a Government employee. In an effort to squeeze more money out of the taxpayer many departments are now bundled together into just one. It is called Department of Human Services. I have some experience with it. Human services my a*”se.

A while ago I was fined twice for illegal parking. I checked it out and both parking infringements posted out to me occurred on the same day and at the same time within the same second and minute. How could that be? However, in my gallant effort to get one of those fines cancelled, I just about lost the will to go on. I desperately tried to log on  to the Infringement department of the Motor Transport, even to the extend to request a new password. ( the old one was hidden, remember!)  It was hell, and I was reduced to just incoherently tapping over my computer. Milo looked up and knew something was terribly wrong too.  After recovering I ended up going to the Human Services and had the fine cancelled. The Human Services girls were dressed up in a cheery red uniform but were as difficult to contact as it was on the internet. One told me to stop shouting. I wasn’t shouting.

So, in about an hour or so and after a shower we will go to this Human Services office to try and sort out our Opal travel card. I will keep you informed. I do hope we won’t need our passwords.

 

Why is everything so much more complicated?

 

 

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30 Responses to “The torture of Dept. of Human Services”

  1. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Do you suppose they think we are all so much smarter due to advanced age, so it is a test. I think it must make one turn around and go back home where you can enjoy a nice glass of wine and that beautiful salvia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We just arrived back home from the Human Services, both totally freaked out and exasperated. So much so, I needed a buttermilk hit and drank a full 700mll carton.

      I thought that the Opal Card would get sorted. No, the girl said. You still have to do it yourself. The girl in the red uniform and her hair in a bun, told us. We could use their phone to get it sorted. “What is your Opal pin,” she asked?. “Oh no, now I need a pin as well,” I simmered. “Yes,” she rebuked, and also your password.

      I took a wild guess on the pin, which miraculously worked. The phone was now connected to the Human Services Opal Card division. Mind you, we both were inside the Human Services Office. It would not have been too difficult to connect!

      The voice on the phone told us ‘there was a greater than usual demand’. A waiting time of 48 minutes was promised with over 79 calls on the line.

      The girl with hair bun advised it would be quicker on-line. “If you don’t have your password we can get you another one,” she said.

      A long story, Kayti. The new Opal cards will be posted. When they arrive we have to go through the whole lot again trying to transfer the credit on the old GOLDEN Opal card onto the new Opal card.

      I might have to get a lot more butter milk.

      Liked by 1 person

      • kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

        This is total government B. S. Unbelievable. You both need more than buttermilk. Have a good night’s sleep.

        Liked by 2 people

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Thank you, Kayti.

        We thought it best to bring out the big guns and opened a bottle of Spanish wine, ‘El Torro.’ What the heck?
        We did get an e-mail telling us they received our request and will now send an Opal Card suitable for seniors but not for pensioners. Apparently we are too well off for the pensioner card.
        How do those metal poles tell the difference? What happens if I just tap my car keys or my hanky at the pole. Will I get arrested?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. tulipels Says:

    Good luck, wishing you lots of patience

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Tulipel. A total disaster. It would be almost easier never to use public transport again.

      The present way of doing things is to exclude help from humans as much as possible. Finally we will all sit behind our devices fiddling with passwords pins and profiles. What’s the point of it.?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Good luck, Gerard. Peggy quickly leaves the room when I get entangled in the password game. I have a ragged old sheet full of passwords that I continually vow to update and never do. Peggy even bought me a password book for Christmas. As for bureaucracy, nothing is more frustrating than a public servant who isn’t. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Curt. Helvi hurries to the garden and arranges the compost. I am not good to be near when passwords are needed. One could write a complete series on internet passwords alone.

      I am in such a bad way that even the secret questions are beyond me. I sometimes get asked the name of my first pet or my mother’s maiden name. All I remember is my first car. A Ford V8 single spinner. Who would ever forget first car?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Happy Go lucky Says:

    Just another brilliant lot of comments. The bit about “excluding humans when doing things” is so accurate but sad. All this IT stuff is supposed to help us, make things easier etc etc. Discribing it as bulls–t is spot on !

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, and what is it about having to profile yourself and having a pin? Do people talk to each other by showing their profile. I would never ask a nice woman/man; “have you got a nice pin”? Or, “show us your profile.”
      Why can’t IT be more civil.

      Like

  5. Happy Go lucky Says:

    Forgot to mention that I had a good laugh. So maybe this IT thing has its good points !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yvonne Says:

    I guess you got out of your pyjamas to do this errand of frustration? I bless speaker phones whenever I have anything to do with Human Services. I can get the whole house cleaned while waiting for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      The most maddening thing about the Human Services phone service while put on hold, is this maddening waltz of Strauss’ Blue Danube. Who in their right mind would put on this music.?
      A funeral march maybe or Mary had a little Lamb, but Strauss?

      Liked by 2 people

  7. shoreacres Says:

    When my old computer was in its last throes, and the decision was made to get a new one, a primary task was straightening out all my passwords before transferring everything. I tell you what — that was a three-day trial. The good news is that I now have a list of current passwords — in triplicate! — that I depend on. I have one in the safe deposit box, one printed and hidden away in my digs, and one on the computer. That’s also somewhat hidden. I certainly didn’t put it in My Documents with the title, “Password List.”

    Businesses have gotten smart, and often just ask up front, “Have you forgotten your password?” Then, a new one is only an email away. The government either isn’t so smart, or is far more inclined to make citizens suffer. After all, we can’t take our business elsewhere when the government is involved — at least, not without a whole lot of trouble, like the French Revolution.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Linda. I wish I had your discipline. I did write them down but was warned not to leave the red booklet of passwords laying around. It is lost now and it will probably be found after I have gone together with the spare keys to window locks and garden gate.

      I am thinking of going back to paying our bills at the post office. It offers great opportunities for social intercourse and with Milo in tow it usually makes my day.

      Every now and then I get a notification from Apple that my account has been compromised and that if I wasn’t the account holder in the e-mail I should renew my account. The address from the person who used my Apple account often resides in Bangla-Dash.

      Who on earth would sniff around my account? Are they after my Opal account or my National Road and Motor Assistance ticket? It spoils my day because renewing an Apple account is for me a very dark event. Not easy, and if you fail three times you get banned.

      My mother used to tell me to smile more. “They are free, you know,” she said. But is it any wonder? All this IT fraud has drawn out my serious side even deeper. I am naturally drawn to it. I am always more sullen than sun. Is it any wonder?

      Like

  8. Big M Says:

    I can feel your pain, Gerard. Why does one need passwords for the Roads and Maritime Department, Opal people, nrma, toll,road people, etc. Who,is going around masquerading as an Opal bearing pensioner, or getting nrma roadside assistance on someone else’s account?? At least you don’t need a pin number to open a bottle of wine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are right, Big M. At least with the wine one has the benefit of the screw cap. With my butter-milk carton I am directed to folding back the flaps. No big dramas. I sometimes fold back the wrong flaps but no disaster like with lost passwords.
      The tinned tomatoes or sardines the pull-ring snaps off sometimes. I am very capable in dealing with that too and take it in my stride.
      So, it is not all bad. There are good things happening too.

      Like

  9. stuartbramhall Says:

    Gerard, I hate to break this to you but the Australian government isn’t on your side. They’re on the side of banks and big business.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Christine Says:

    I noticed your mention of the “Dear Gerard”, from the government department people. Is this familiarity being put on us to give us a false sense of “we do care about you”?

    One of Frank Devine’s columns from years ago referred to the growing trend of first names being used – he admitted to being a bit curmudgeonly, preferring ‘Mr” from government depts, et cetera.
    If they’re going to annoy you, they should give you your title.
    Once I got “Chris” from a stranger on the phone . . please no . . too familiar. Still, “Chrissie” would’ve been worse.

    Would it be too familiar to ask if your name has the emphasis on the “ard”? For my brother, the emphasis is on the “Ger”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I love my name mentioned in either emphasis, Christine, but usually if some does bother with my name, it’s on the first syllable. The second might more often be used when Gerard is the surname. I can’t imagine Mr GERard gerARD however.

      You are right that the government is trying to inveigle the population by using Dear Christian names, fawning benevolence where there is none.

      I remember having been overpaid on some lousy government benefit. It was their fault.
      No stone was left unturned to retrieve their money. After many months of threats and dire warnings, the sheriff turned up ready to hoist my VW Kombi on the tow truck.

      I finally paid up.

      Like

  11. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Misery sympathy! I keep a copy of my passwords in a fixed place at home and on my computer in a file whose name I know. This works most of the time. Good luck trying to find/communicate with the humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      And apart from passwords there are also usernames. That is another level of difficulty. I have just one name which is my own name. Do people now have lots of different names?
      And then the use of all those ampersands.
      How do we cope?

      Like

      • hilarycustancegreen Says:

        Ah, my spreadsheet includes usernames – I have foolishly used many combinations of my initials/names… but things still go wrong.

        Like

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        To retrieve a lost password one needs to be able to logon first. If the logon fails I sometimes end up using the telephone. Most times I get foreign girls with impossible accents. It is then that I take a brisk walk with Milo. It’s the only way.

        Like

  12. rodhart (@roderick_hart) Says:

    Hi Gerard. Instead of using a notebook or whatever you could use a password manager, there are several available, and logging in would then become automated. But you may not like this idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hi Rod, I will think about it. As I get older I would dearly like things to be less complicated. I am clearing the fridge out and take great joy in seeing empty shelves. Helvi fills up bags of clothes that I take to Father Riley who runs charity shops nation wide. Of course the volunteers, mainly elderly ladies, get the first of the pick rummaging through all the donated bags of clothing.
      I heard that there is some scam going on there as well. Apparently some bright spark has been exporting the donated clothes to Russia in return for a nice little ‘bonus.’

      Like

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