I hope you are well.

August 3, 2006

Dear Office of Benefits Licensing and Privacy Enforcement,

I hope you are well.  And still alive.  And strong and healthy.  So you can call the telephone number for me you see in this letter.  And find out who they all are.

Their first name will be lost in the instruction you hear at the end asking for your ID number.  I'd recommend not giving it to them.  Because as soon as you do, they'll pull up a very private picture of you and as soon as they see it and before you can remember their first name again and ask them how to spell it, they’ll quickly send you on your way to some other department like some kinda "hot potato".  Until you’ve been "peeped" by enough strangers into a state in which you no longer wish to call them at all for the benefit you're entitled to and have been denied.  Instead you are told some truly bizarre things from their various ill-informed corporate bureaucrats along your path commenting on your picture that I will not repeat here.  Or told this benefit you are entitled to will only be granted if it is a life threatening emergency.  And that it must be put in writing first.  And approved.  Which only means more frivolous and degrading exposures. 

You finally get through to their top expert, someone intelligent with a degree who understands the issue, and ask him simply "Why?"

He knows he's cornered:

"There's nothing I can do about it! .. you have to go down the grievance path!"
But doesn't tell you how. 

Eventually, if you have the courage to endure a second day of this debasement, as you now struggle up the ladder getting heavier and heavier domination each time searching for an intelligent lifeform, hopefully with a backbone, you will eventually reach an officer holding a doctoral degree and appeal to her:

"You're a woman, you understand humiliation issues, yes? .. Why?"

And then will hear it honestly for the first time:
"Because that’s how the system's set up"

Perhaps these words were accidentally spilled in a lapse of compassionate understanding seeing you crawling into her office upon the floor from it all. 

"Thank you"
you will then tell her departing in quiet humble gratitude for finally hearing the truth as you crawl back out.  And realise your cause is hopeless and that there's nothing more that can be done.

The next week, when you realise what has just been done to you and have recovered your dignity and confidence sufficiently enough to call her back to verify her kind and forthright words, you will hear her denying them in a panic and then demanding how to spell your name (perhaps thinking you can be frightened off again).  Remember to spell it for her S L O W L Y.  So she'll remember who you are.  When you ask her to spell hers you will hear nothing further.

But that was last year.

Anyway, it's gradually creeping back in all over again.

I don't know why these very private pictures are in the hands of these unidentified and apparently unlicensed "telephone operators" anyway.  Who won't fully identify themselves to you first.  Or transfer you to someone who will.  When they tell you their last name is "Smith" or "Ford" how will you know they're telling you the truth?  You'll need to be able to positively identify them to fill out the forms you don't have time to anyway.  You will discover that their supervisor has no last name.  And if you are able to be transferred to them it will be your lucky day.  But will get no further up the food chain or discover the last names of any supervision.  For it seems that they are all on the phone with someone else and cannot even accept a handwritten note.  Or have stepped away from their desk.  Or are on vacation or booked up with appointments for the next several months.  Indeed, I'm starting to wonder if these "telephone operators" who eventually simply hang up on you have any supervision whatever.  You will never learn the names of who instructed them in all this.  Or full names and contact information of anyone there whatever to communicate with.  Or ever be transferred to them.

They tell you someone will call you back.  But won't tell you who or when.  If you give them your phone number, allowing yet ever more mis-informed strangers to peek at your private picture, you will find that no one ever identifies themselves on your answering machine.  If, in fact, they ever *do* call back.

Convince me they're not all wearing masks.  I'm not.  Indeed, I've been frivolously exposed many times by many unidentified "telephone operators" there: "they can see everything".

So, like I said, I hope you are well.

I'm not: "there's more..".  I have probably 20 pages of notes on it all from last year.  It's become so overwhelmingly bizarre and depressing and time consuming that I'm starting to realise that I'll probably never have time to finish writing it all up.

Originally last year, I called the (now former) secretary of the naïve purchaser of my benefits and asked if she could help.  Who gave me the name and telephone number of their broker.  Who I called and then heard a woman lecture me in a dominating voice about the high cost of my benefits.  So I called and I called.  Hither and yon.  And then called the broker back again.  Who read back to me a Benefits "Fitness Statement" I had filled out and asked me why my private picture was left out.  A picture so private, only the underwriters were allowed to know of it.  So I called and searched and searched and called and got your form which asks me those questions I'm still trying to answer.

For when I called the broker back again it was my last.

I asked her for her license number.  Which angered and offended her greatly asking me why I wanted this information.  But I did not tell her that it is your form which asks me for it.  And feared to ask her this question again.
But gritted my teeth and did.
With great umbrage, she told me that this was personal information.  And I gathered that I was not to have it and that she must be at her limit with me.
As I waited in the withering silence.

Eventually someone came on the line and told me he was the owner.
I asked him to spell his name for me.
And for their address and license number.

Then I asked him: "Who's name is on that license?"
I still don't know.  Maybe you could tell me.
For I was told to call no more.

The purchaser of my benefits no longer uses a broker and I don't blame him.  After what he's been through, I wouldn’t trust anyone either.  And so now I must call this sordid $Multi-Billion-Dollar-Benefits-Corporation$ telephone number instead.  That just gives me the creeps each time.  Indeed, I still haven't received that letter from them I asked for last year explaining why my benefit was denied.  And still has been to this day.


"Because that's how the system's set up"

"It could look like a cost savings feature"
I told their corporate privacy compliance officer who I eventually got on the phone last year after I figured it all out.  He assured me it wasn’t.  And then there was more that came out in this conversation.  And when I saw it I had to tell it to him bluntly:

 "Let's take a peek, this is all confidential here"

and how offensive it all was particularly when it involves someone who will see me and others like myself pro-bono.

Anyway, it's happening again.  But why don't *you* call them for me this time instead.  I no longer wish to.

I know you don't know me and must be overwhelmed with it all.  But it would be nice if your licensing and oversight offices there could spare the time to read and understand all this.  And ask them who they all are.  So I can answer the questions you’ve asked me on your forms.  Indeed, I'd be more than happy to come in and go over those 20 pages of notes I have on it all so far.  I just don't understand why no one will tell me their last names anymore.  Or their license number.  Or whose name is on it.

It's so easy to do to us.  We just pay it and avoid complaining.  Like me.  But now it's not about the money.  It's about something else.  A rich man just pays for it and never has to experience that humiliation.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

For I long to hear those words again: "How may I help you .. SIR"

..or perhaps:
"Please do not hesitate to contact my office should you require assistance on an issue in the future"

Or maybe:
"Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention"

I hope you are well.