It's exasperating, being the point man in someone else's fight. I'm not talking about anything in the news this time. I'm talking about the fact that we have a job foreman who's in charge of hiring and firing. Since no one seems to get along with him, there's a whole lotta firing going on. And these guys, who are underpaid anyway, hold grudges.
Today's mail brought me two requests from the child support office of the state of California, demanding (their word; they could be nicer about it, since I always cooperate) information about an employee who hasn't worked for us in a year and a half. I know this, because they wanted front-and-back copies of his last two payroll checks, and I had to go back to April 2000 to find them.
The two requests, which were headed "Demand to Furnish Information" in large bold type, were identical, down to the hot pink return envelopes, except for a phone number in small print at the bottom of each one. So I filled them both out with the same information and sent them off in their separate envelopes, which made my outgoing mail look like a bunch of late payments (but that's another story).
This is a minor inconvenience compared to the pitched battle our man Tim is waging against another employee, who's been trying to collect unemployment insurance, despite the fact that he walked off the job last spring. He cut a finger, and since it was the second time in two weeks that he wanted to go home with a minor injury, Tim sent him to the doctor. We'd already paid for a week's vacation for this kid through our worker's compensation insurance. Tim tells me he spent it riding motorcycles with his girlfriend.
This time, the doctor wrote a note affirming that the guy wasn't hurt badly enough to miss any work. The employee told Tim he'd be in the next day, but he failed to show. Then he ambled cheerfully into the shop the following morning, expecting to be welcomed back, and was told he was presumed to have resigned. He was handed his lovely parting gifts and sent away again.
That's when he had the nerve to file for unemployment, and of course Tim wanted to fight the claim. And of course, it wasn't Tim who had to do the paperwork, and respond to all the inquiries (in duplicate and triplicate, most of them), and fill out all the forms. This has been an ongoing battle for six months now, but at least it gets easier. I don't have to look up any of the information any more, since I have it all memorized.
If this were an isolated case, I'd be annoyed but not exasperated. But it happens so often that I have a whole file drawer for these disputes, each folder with a different name on the tab.