This is one of the most classic lines in 80s cinema, and one I like to use a lot, especially when it comes to my job.
However, I was on the receiving end of the horns from the Texas Workforce Commission this month.
I’ve expressed before that unemployment benefits are a good thing, though there are flaws in the system. Chief among those flaws is the government encourages you to stay at home or play golf, since you can only make an extra 10-percent of your unemployment benefits with side work before it starts coming out of your check.
I found another fatal flaw with the system last month. I also learned the hard way you can’t beat the system.
For some reason, the TWC didn’t give me unemployment benefits for Christmas week. They said I worked full-time hours that week, though I got my benefits the next week. I don’t know where the mix-up happened, but I did not work full-time hours.
There is a TWC hotline it directs you to call if you have any problems with your benefits. You have a certain timeframe to protest any mistakes.
I tried this hotline every day for a week. I kept getting the same message — “Due to high call volume, we can not accept your call right now. Please try again later.”
That’s right, I couldn’t even be put on hold. Not cool.
Did I mention there was no email address or any physical address to try and actually talk to someone about this mistake?
At this point, I had two choices.
a) File a written petition, wait for two months and hope the TWC rules in my favor.
b) File for benefits for the first week of January.
Now, the complicated thing about choice B is that I was working for HCN that week. So technically, I wasn’t supposed to file for benefits.
However, I went ahead and did it. I figured worst-case scenario, I would be able to actually talk to someone from the TWC, explain my situation and clear up issues with my missed payment.
That did not turn out to be the worst outcome.
After receiving my benefits, I got a letter from the TWC saying there was an issue. They gave me a number (not the telecenter number) and I was able to actually talk with someone.
Funny how it is impossible to get a hold of the government if they owe you money, but when you owe them money, it is a piece of cake.
After he asked several dumb questions, I asked that I explain what happened. About halfway through my explanation, he stopped me.
“You are about to hang yourself,” he said.
Apparently, the TWC views what I did as fraud. Whoops.
The good news — I’m not going to jail.
The bad news — I have to repay all the benefits for that week I claimed.
Even worse, I am shit out of luck for the benefits I didn’t receive over Christmas week. I never got a straight answer why, because that was a “different department.” Whatever.
Moral of the story — fraud against the government is highly discouraged.
You mess with the bull, you get the horns.
• Had a great birthday with friends at Red Robin and the Flying Saucer. Yeh-Peu-Dah also got me a Dreamland gift package with sauce, dry rub, seasoning and dipping saucer. Yes, it is amazing.
• Linsanity has officially hit fever pitch. Seriously, if he has a triple double the same day Peyton Manning is released and a Tebow-Katie Perry sex tape is released, the internet will crash.
• Clay Travis wrote a brilliant blog about how Texas is scared of the SEC. It is a must-read: The Longhorns are scared.
• Another stroke of brilliance — MLB teams portrayed as a beer.
• The Cubs missed out on Cuba star Yoenis Cespedes, but appear to be closing in on another Cuban outfielder, Jorge Soler. He’s a youngen at 19, but hopefully he can develop into a five-tool guy.
• The Walking Dead has a solid start to the second half of the season. There were a couple of interesting things set up for the next few episodes.
• Finally, Will Ferrell is filming a movie with Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis and Dan Aykroyd, which is being released in November. There is no doubt I will be seeing that opening weekend.
Anyway, since Ferrell is in New Orleans filming, the Hornets let him make the pregame introductions for their game against the Bulls. The result was predictably hilarious.
Bear Down and Keep the Faith!