Dear Tennessee Unemployment Office,
I have humbled myself enough so I can acknowledge that I need your assistance. It was very difficult for me to make this decision. I originally filed the paperwork on April 2nd but I just tried to do my first weekly check-in on May 14th. I received paperwork from you the week after my initial contact informing me that I am eligible for unemployment benefits.
From that time until now I have struggled with the decision to partake in unemployment benefits. But two months after my lay-off I am beginning to see the distinct lack of jobs for my skill and experience range. Entry level jobs do not pay enough and administration and management jobs are out of my experience range. Although, one would ask, how can I get experience as an administrator or IT manager when every job listing for those positions requires extensive previous experience? It seems a paradox (which is quite fitting for my blog but quite unhelpful in feeding my children).
But the hiring practices of various IT departments are not your concern. I was unable to login to the online weekly check-in site and was directed to call a phone number. If I decipher the wording in your help documents correctly, it seems that the PIN for online access needs to be setup either the first time I attempt to login or by phone. I do not remember logging in at all, this being the first time I have attempted to do my weekly certification, so I do not suspect that is the issue. It is probably my fault for not calling sooner. Or it could be that you have placed a hold on my account due to my lack of check-ins and require me to call and have it reactivated. Regardless, I need to speak with you on the phone to proceed any further. Here's where my issues arise.
I began calling the toll free 877 number listed in your help documents at 8 AM Monday morning. I received a message saying you could not take my call due to an extremely high call volume. It seemed kind of silly not to even allow people to sit on hold but I gave you the benefit of the doubt. It was early morning on a regular weekly check-in day and I suspected you were quite busy. Calling numerous times throughout the day yielded the same message. My last call that day was somewhere between 4 PM and 5 PM. I made many more attempts the next day, all resulting in the same "We cannot take your call" message.
I scoured your website and found a local Nashville number, which routed to the same message I had been receiving, and a number for weekly phone check-ins. This was surprising seeing as how I attributed your high call volume to the normal weekly check-ins. Learning that it was a separate, automated number was unexpected. I also found a fax number which I found amusing. First, because it's 2012, and second, because I find it hard to believe that someone contacting the unemployment office would have ready access to a fax machine. I proceeded to call the weekly check-in line, entered my social security number, and was told I was ineligible to use that number and needed to call their help center.
Hilariously, that was the same number I was originally calling.
I tried numerous times that day with my final attempt coming once again somewhere between 4 PM and 5 PM. I once again attempted to call today and received the same message. I eventually looked up the number for the local labor and workforce development office and phoned them. The ultra-personable lady who answered the phone informed me that they had nothing to do with weekly check-ins and directed me to, say it with me now, the SAME DAMN PHONE NUMBER.
So, Tennessee Unemployment Office, after mentally berating myself for weeks, trying to reconcile the idea of an intelligent man in his mid-twenties with a computer degree, 5 years of applicable experience, and 3 years of management experience from a previous job somehow needing unemployment assistance, I decided to seek your help. But now I find a seemingly endless loop of pseudo-functioning phone numbers and unreachable employees. I have cast aside my pride and sense of self-subsistence to reach out for assistance. Is it necessary to make me beg for it as well?
Humbly and Sincerely,