Day: December 7, 2020

She Thought This Part of Her Life Was Over

The human female once blithely imagined that retirement from the University would mean an end to the bureaucracy and paperwork. Snort!

The first fax of her retirement paperwork vanished into the ether. So she mailed it in and asked to be notified if it had arrived. No message was sent.

She went to pick up her retiree ID card. They had to remake it because they had her retiring from the Law School.

Once she got the direct deposit of her pension sorted out, she thought she was home free. Has she met me?

Which was why she had a multifaceted moment of confusion/panic/anger/frustration when she received a “polite” letter from TRS (ostensibly stands for “Teachers’ Retirement System of Texas” but actually stands for “They’re Really Swamped,” since every incoming call is greeted with “We are experiencing longer than usual wait times, in excess of thirty minutes…) informing her that since she was employed half-time or less with a TRS-affiliated agency, she was in danger of losing her retiree status and her pension, as there are Rules About Employment After Retirement. Ehehehe! I called it the Global Warming Letter, since it was essentially warning her that she was on thin ice. This came, of course, as no small surprise since the human female, so far from being gainfully employed anywhere, has elevated the practice of being a lazy retiree to an art form.

Of course, I saw to it that this letter arrived after the TRS offices were closed for the Thank-a-Turkey holiday, and I got to watch her add “Oh-my-gosh-how-do-I-fix-this stew” to the menu.

As soon as the wheels of bureaucracy began to turn again the following Monday (nearly a week later!), I had the chance to mess with her some more. She called TRS. She was informed that the wait time was about half an hour. She opted for a call-back.

The kind person who eventually called her back was unable to elucidate the matter beyond reiterating that TRS records showed her working for the A&M system as of October 1. This led to a truly amusing exchange that included, “But I retired on August 31.” “All I can tell you is what’s in the system, ma’am.” “Am I about to lose my pension?” “No, because it shows you as hired, but it doesn’t show you as actually having worked any hours yet, so you’re fine at the moment.” “Can you tell me where it is I’m supposed to be employed, so I know whom to go growl at?” “I don’t have that information. I suggest you contact whoever handles payroll.” “Payroll for the department I retired from, or payroll for the University as a whole?” “Either or both?” “What proof should I ask them to provide that I am not working?” “Nothing, it will happen as part of a normal report.” “Is there really no other information you can provide?” “No. You can set up an appointment with a TRS coach if you like.” I’m not entirely sure what followed that, but it sounded like muffled imprecations and the sound of a head hitting a keyboard…

She was pretty sure the mix-up was the result of her being considered a “Research Associate” for the herbarium, which is a courtesy title for definitely-unpaid work, so she thought she might have to take on the multi-headed monstrosity that is AgriLife, but she decided to start small, with payroll. The Biology Department’s payroll person is currently out on extended leave, so she left a message with the Assistant Department Head for Business Affairs.

She searched for the number and called someone at the University level. They told her to contact the Main A&M Payroll Office.

The main A&M Payroll Office offered to transfer her to the Tax Compliance Office. By this point, I was trying so hard to smother my giggles that I think I broke a blood vessel in my left eye.

The phone transfer didn’t work, just rolled her over to a hold with no message, so she hung up and called them directly.

By this point, quite some time had elapsed, and I relented enough to cut her a little slack. The Tax Compliance Officer took the human female’s garbled explanation of the situation seriously, told her that she believed her because she had at least one other person with the same problem. The October 1 hire notice had been triggered—I kid you not and I am so proud of this twist!—by the cutting of the human female’s final paycheck from the University. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the University’s own HR programming, the ineffable Workday, saw her getting paid and reasoned that if she were being paid, she was an employee, QED.

Somewhat later, the Tax Compliance Office called back to say that it had been taken care of and should cause no further trouble. There was something else about the original information having been sent to TRS on the wrong form, but I didn’t catch it. I was laughing too hard to hear precisely what was being said.

Oh, what a good joke! Workday reaches out its spectral, skinny arm from beyond the grave and dishes up more mayhem. What’s next? I think I might try to work dead cats back in somehow.

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P.S. The human female asked if the human male is going to run into the same problem when his final A&M paycheck is issued. There have been assurances that this will not happen, which just means I need to think of something else…