Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Fine Anne Chill Aid

Yes, I haven’t been posting. It’s hard to post when you’re stressed and tired of being stressed and tired due to stress all of the time.

Why? Oh, it goes something like this… starting in late May…Dramatis Personae:

  • GD – Your long-suffering chroma-impaired waterfowl
  • DP – Future learning establishment of the eldest offspring
  • SL – Government agency tasked with making the lives of parents with college-aged kids pure hell

DP: Okay, we need you to get an ID code and go to SL’s website, fill out a form, and we’re all done!

GD: Sure, I’m on it! All the best for the boy!

SL: Here’s your form, hop to it.

GD: *type* *click* *click* *type* *click* Wait WHERE DID IT GO?

SL: Where did what go?

GD: My completed form. You just said it was all done, now it’s gone.

SL: What’s gone?

GD: *headdesk* Okay, DP, what do I do now?

DP: That’s weird. Hold on… okay, here’s a number to call.

GD: *dials number*

SL: Uh, wrong department. Try this other number.

GD: *dials other number*

SL: Hi, how can I help you?

GD: *explains predicament*

SL: That’s weird. Did you click on this, that, and the other thing?

GD: Yes.

SL: Huh. That’s weird.

GD: We’ve established that. What do we do to fix it?

SL: Well, how about you take the completed-form preview, print that out, and overnight it to us. We’ll have it processed in three-to-five business days.

GD: Let me get this straight… an electronic system that’s supposed to have me in and out in a few minutes, no muss no fuss no messy cleanup… isn’t working right, and the answer is for me to print out a physical copy of a nearly-complete form and mail that to you.

SL: Correct! We’ll have it processed in three-to-five business days.

GD: *sigh* Okay. *prints* *signs* *seals* *pays $30 to have papers sent overnight to Alabama*

TIME: *passes*

DP: Do you have that form completed yet?

GD: I sent it to them days ago. They should have it.

DP: They say they never got it.

GD: $ExpressCarrier says otherwise. I have the tracking # to prove it.

DP: Aha! They say they got it, now. We should have results in two days.

FOUR DAYS: *pass*

GD: So, DP, about those results…

DP: They lost the paperwork.


DP: Uh, you have that tracking #?

GD: Yes. Here.

DP: I’ll be in touch.

DAYS: *go by* (*and still I think of you*)

DP: Good news, they found it! We should have results in just a couple of days.

GD: Yay! Rejoice!

TIME: *keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping* *into the future*

DP: Bad news, they lost it! I need you to call them…

GD: I’ll call them RIGHT NOW!

DP: … on Monday, because their systems are down. Here’s a crap-ton of information you’ll need.


DP: I’m very, very sorry about this.

GD: *sigh* Not your fault. *takes copious notes*

MONDAY: *I wish it were Sunday* *’cause that’s my fun day*

GD: *dials number*

SL: I’m sorry, Mario, but your princess is at another phone number.

GD: *curses* *dials another number*

SL: Hello! Ah, your reference number is… filled with copious notes. What a mess.

GD: You. Don’t. Say.

SL: So, have you tried filling out the form on the website?

GD: *tries to Force-choke someone through the phone* *fails* Yes. Just this morning, in fact, just on the off-chance it would actually work. It failed.

SL: Ah, I see that it failed because of [confidential data redacted]. We’ll have to change the ID #.

GD: Sure thing, how?

SL: Do you see it on the form?

GD: *scans form top to bottom, side-to-side, inside-and-out* No.

SL: Are you SURE?

GD: *resists urge to scream* Quite.

SL: Uh. BRB. *puts me on hold*

GD: *listens to generally-inoffensive muzak*

SL: Right, so the ID # is hiding in plain sight. It’s actually listed as something else entirely that looks like part of an unrelated portion of the form.

GD: Huh.

SL: Yes, I’m as baffled as you are. So here’s what we do… *copious instructions*

GD: *scribbles notes furiously* Okay, got it.

So… A month and a half in, what’s the solution to making this all work? Printing out a blank copy of the form, filling in the blanks manually (well, kind of: I copy/pasted text via an online PDF editor to make sure there wouldn’t be legibility problems), and hiking over to the nearby pack-and-ship outfit during lunchtime to send off yet another version of a ten-page financial aid form to Alabama.

By the by? Those hole-in-the-wall pack-and-ship places are convenient, but they’re obligated (as is their right, and it’s not like UPS or FedEx will cut them any slack) to tack some extra cost onto their shipping services. What cost $30 three Fridays ago would’ve cost close to $45 today… so I cheaped out and only spent $32 for 2nd-day service.


So, will this do the trick? I have no idea. Stay tuned…


  1. Spud

    I’m… sorry.

    • GreyDuck

      No, don’t be! It’s certainly not your fault that bureaucracy is so pear-shaped.

      All in a good cause, as I’ve said.

  2. Wonderduck

    DAYS: *go by* (*and still I think of you*)

    For this, I thank you.

    • GreyDuck

      You want the funny/sad part?

      I bashed that line out as I was typing along, still in full-on rant mode, and only two lines later did I look up and realize what I’d done.

      The rest of the humor was deliberate, but that one just… appeared.

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