Thursday, January 27, 2022

Paperwork Nightmare


Isn’t it curious the small moments we remember from our childhood? Today I thought about a moment when I was perhaps nine or ten and my Dad was at the dining room table with the monthly bills spread out to be paid. When I asked him what he was doing and he explained, I thought, “I sure as hell am not looking forward to that when I grow up!”


Like most kids, I thought that so much of what adults did was weird, unintelligible and just plain boring. And I was right! Peter Pan was my hero and I was determined to live a youthful life of adventure and play. And by George, that’s exactly what I mostly did! Got paid for playing clapping games with five-year olds and dancing with 4th graders and playing hot jazz with 8th graders. 


Of course, I did have to pay my bills. One strategy was not to buy too much so that beyond gas, electricity, garbage and a long-delayed credit card, I wasn’t overwhelmed by them. And truth be told, there was a certain satisfaction in setting aside a small block of time and getting out the stamps, checkbook and return address stickers and feel some satisfaction that the lights would stay lit for another month, the heat could be turned on as needed, the garbage would happily be taken away. 


So today began with a morning set aside for taking care of business, but gone are the days of writing a simple check or filling out a simple form. Bureaucracy seems to be multiplying like rabbits, but the little bunnies it spawns are anything but cute and fuzzy. 


For example, I need to ship some books from my Pentatonic Press Vicks Printers to my IPG distribution center, which use to mean giving Vicks the book title, amount to be shipped and address. But now I need to write to IPG and request that they generate a PO number. They write back when they have done so, then I go the Website and search around a bit until I find an “Advance Shipment Notice Form.” I fill out that form and it generates a bar code, which I then forward on to Vicks to be affixed to the box of books. After sending the books, Vicks has to e-mail the packing list with the PO number listed as a reference. Are you following this?


Yesterday, I taught my first online class through OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute connected with San Francisco State. Naturally, in order to get paid, I had to fill out some forms, which for some reason they insisted I send my snail mail rather than scan and send by e-mail. That’s okay, I have those stamp and envelope skills. But instead of including a copy of my passport or sending that scanned copy through e-mail, I had to be available for a Zoom call today where someone had me hold it up to the camera. And then asked me to scan it and send it by e-mail! Really? What’s the logic there?


Finally, after enjoying both mentoring and teaching an Orff teacher at a local school, I decided I might as well get on the sub list. Simple, yes? Of course not. 


I was sent various forms which I filled out electronically and sent by e-mail back. But the Human Resources manager wanted me to also print them out and mail them or bring them by. I starting printing and then noticed that the file contained 123 pages. Let me repeat that.  

123 PAGES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Fearing that the cost of replacing the printer ink would require three days of subbing to pay for, I asked if that was necessary and why so many pages? The answer was that some of those pages were the school handbook (still, over a 100 pages?!!), but if I preferred them to print them and leave them at their office, they would. 


Finally today, on the way to helping out with the 7thgrade concert, I dropped by the office hoping to just sign a few pages and write my name and address, but it quickly became clear it would be more. So I went to the concert (and how wonderful that was!!) and then afterwards sat in the park across the street to deal with the paperwork. 45 minutes later, I had filled out their forms that included: job application, W-4, withholding allowance, self-identification of race/ ethnicity, criminal record statement, employment eligibility verification from the Department of Homeland Security, tuberculosis risk assessment questionnaire, employee rights statement, requirement to report child abuse statement — are you still awake? Oh, did I mention that several weeks ago, I finally found a place to do Live-scan fingerprinting and got that notarized and sent?


All of this to play a few clapping games with kids. The price of Peter Pan has skyrocketed. Heaven help us all. 

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