My phone rang this morning at the unholy hour of 10:30 a.m. Unemployment has few advantages, but unquestionably one is sleeping in.
I answered groggily and managed to choke out a greeting.
“Mr. Finney, this is Anna from Iowa Workforce Development,” the caller said.
I perked up. Anna, regular readers will recall, rescued me from the endless loop of robot answering machines and suicide-inducing hold music at Iowa Workforce Development, the fancy government name for the unemployment office.
I had run afoul of the unemployment bureaucracy due to a paperwork error. To the bureaucrat, a paperwork error is a mortal sin and those who commit one must be cast into the lake of fire.
The bottom line was I was looking at four weeks without a benefit being paid. Each time I called the office and wound my way through the Byzantine process to reach a person, I got a different answer.
Finally on Tuesday, I reached Anna, who fixed my problems and put me track to get paid. I would have offered my hand in marriage, but I think Anna’s smart enough to see an unemployed middle-aged journalist as a high-risk, low-reward investment.
Today, Anna called me to say that she didn’t want me to worry about the benefits statement on the unemployment website.
I hadn’t checked it yet, but Anna had. It showed that only one of the payments I’m due had been authorized.
Anna, apparently out of a sense of near-extinct concept of due diligence, checked on my case when she got to work Wednesday. She saw a small error, had it corrected and then called me to let me know it would be resolved within a day.
I told Anna she was a superhero. If I knew her last name (and had been paid my unemployment), I’d send her flowers.
We hung up and I rushed to the window. The sun was in the clear blue sky. A chilly March wind blew.
But there was no sign of the apocalypse.
Anna is quite clearly the real deal: a public servant who believes in helping the people who need her.
Until Tuesday, I would have assumed such a person was as rare as the fearsome snipe or the elusive jackalope.
Now I know governmental customer service is no longer a myth, like the leprechaun, but rare, like the four-leaf clover.