orangemike (orangemike) wrote,

A tale of Christmas week

Last Thursday, right after Christmas, we had a mother come into our office to get her authorization for subsidized childcare renewed. She’d recently started working again, and we’d given her a provisional authorization until the checks started coming and we could set her up permanently. This was vital: the daycare provider, to whom she already owed $Xk, was going to refuse to take the child the next day if the mom didn’t get reauthorized.

Normally, this would be easy-peasy; but the complication arose: she didn’t know the FEIN for her employer, so that we could verify employment on the online databases. “Oh, I work for Alpha Corp.” but no “Alpha Corp.” or “AlphaCorp” had an FEIN, at that address or any other. The mom called her colleague at work (she’d had to take off work to come do this), and the colleague didn’t know from FEINs. “We have a ‘tax number’ of xxxxxxxx”; but that was useless (hint: if you want to hinder a bureaucrat AND make it difficult for them to help you, refer to any and all of seventeen different identifying numbers from FEIN to Sales Tax Exemption Number generically as your “tax number”). “Aren’t we part of Beta Holdings or something?” (no “Beta Holdings” or “Beta Corp.” with an FEIN, at that address or any other). The colleague suggested that the mom call “payroll” at different location.

When the mom reached “payroll”, she was stopped cold: “We don’t divulge that number! What do you want it for? I know you need childcare, but we don’t do that!” (this, about a number which will be right there on the mom’s W-2 within the next four weeks). The mom was getting panicky now, but “payroll” was deaf to her pleas. When she hung up, she started to cry, since if she couldn’t take her child to daycare, she couldn’t go to work, and she’d lose the new job she is so desperate to keep. From the little tables by the window, a small voice piped up, “Mommy, are you okay?” The mom visibly pulled herself together and said mendaciously, “It’s okay, honey; mommy’s all right.” (None of us behind the counter believed it for a minute; but we all sympathized with the desire to make sure the child wasn’t scared.)

Now I work for Provider Services, not Authorization; but all this was going on to my immediate right at the window in the glass booth. I was like my colleague in wishing to figure out a way that this working mom could take care of her little one. I interjected, “What name is on your paycheck?” The mom didn’t know (didn’t care as long as the check cleared) – “But you guys have my check stubs…” (scanned into the system to verify income). “Eureka!” – my colleague in Authorizations accessed those files, and saw that the mom’s paycheck was issued by – Gamma Partners LLC! And we did have an FEIN for Gamma at the very address where the mom works. Authorization issued, mom enormously relieved, tearful thanks all around, and a couple of bureaucrats delighted to have been of help in a situation that could have come straight from Schmaltz Central.
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