When one of my mother’s aunts died, her kids found thousands of dollars just laying around the house. Bills were stuffed in her shoes, under rugs, in the sock drawer and the pièce de résistance: $2000 wrapped in tin foil in the freezer.

So it isn’t totally surprising that her niece did much the same thing, although there was nothing in that damn freezer because I checked. Twice. Yesterday I got a letter informing me of a small benefit from a pension fund. Score! Today, I called to get a fax number to fax the claim forms. Simple enough, right?

Have you met me?

I got an automated voice-response system. You know, one of those interactive recordings designed to infuriate the clients save time.

“You have reached  … blah blah … please say or enter the last 4 digits of your social security number.”

Uh … I had to scramble for the number, which took too long and made me panic and say “shit!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t quite get that.”

Argh!  I re-entered the number.

“Excellent! Please tell us a little about why you are calling. You can say something like ‘pension’ or ‘contribution’ or ‘change personal information’ or ‘report a death.”

“Pension.”  I guess. I already reported the death, but this is a life insurance benefit and …

“Great!” Yay.  “Please tell us whether you are an employee or an agent.”

I’ve already lost patience with this. “Operator.”

“Please tell us whether you are an employee or an agent”

“Goddamn it. Employee.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite …”


“Excellent! Please say either ‘active employee’ or ‘retired employee'”


“I’m sorry, I didn’t”


“I’m sorry, I”


“One moment, I am transferring your call.”

The Lord works in mysterious ways.