Even though I got no credit for anything I did today, I really wanted to write here about how I spent an entire day chasing a piece of paper. It is also of value to express how the government does not seem to know what to do with people who do what they are told.
My original log sheet for community service hours “expired” on November 1. They give log sheets that expire periodically so that you have the option of failing to renew it and then having to pay a duplicate fee for the same volunteer work. Yes, the state charges you to do your community service.
I was told that since I do not yet have a probation officer, I would need to travel to the probation office to get an APPROVAL to continue doing my community service hours. I pointed out the oddity of the premise behind this action, but the teller looked at my blankly, “we don’t have authority to give you an extension here.”
He concluding our conversation by asking about my animal riding charge.
The last time I checked in for probation I went to the central probation office. They told me that since I don’t have an officer yet and since my case is being transferred to Orange County (where I lay my head at night), I should go to the Rio Hondo probation office in Whittier since it is closest to where I am staying.
So– and I know this entry has been clear as mud so far– I drove to Whittier from downtown where the community service office is. After driving to downtown from Anaheim to begin with.
The Rio Hondo office was cleaner and smaller than the central office. My hopes rose for a split second that this was a sign of life.
I was sorely misstaken.
After checking in at the probation check in machine, I requested to speak to someone about the extension. I was told that since I do not have a probation officer, I would need to wait for the “officer of the day.”
After waiting over 40 minutes, a chubby woman yelled my name from a side door. Relieved, I rushed over at her with all my paperwork in hand. My plan was to get the approval from her and then take it back to downtown to get my new timesheet.
She looked at me like I was from the far end of the galaxy.
“Huuuuh? No. No, no, no, hun. We don’t know you at all. We can’t give you anything. You need to go back to your probation officer.”
I explained that I don’t have one. She looked irritated and had me wait another 15 minutes while she “checked.”
“McCall! Hey, yes. Yes you do have a probation officer. I wrote his name here on the sticky, Mr. Wesley. You need to go to him for an extension.”
And with that she slammed the door in my face. I got a distinct feeling that someone was being lazy.
I jumped back in my car for the trek to Crenshaw and Exposition in the heart of Los Angeles, past downtown this time. But before I did, I made sure to snap this photo:
I have found the cervix and diagnosed it as incompetent.
Upon arriving 20 miles west in congested traffic, I walked in the central probation office trying not to cry. I walked up to the check in window and explained my dilemma.
“Oh, well, no. He’s not your probation officer. And anyway, he isn’t here today. Let me check and see who can see you.”
I waited 45 minutes. A short, bald man, poked his head out a side door and barked at me. “Why are you still here? You already checked in at the Rio Hondo office.”
Apparently, he hadn’t gotten the memo.
For the fifth (sixth? seventh?) time, I explained my need for an extension to continue doing my community service.
He reviewed the paperwork and suggested I just not do it until later on in my probation. I tried to remain respectful. Finally he said he’d have the officer of the day assist me.
“I was told the officer of the day at Rio Hondo couldn’t help me.”
“Just have a seat.” he grumbled.
Another 20 minutes and an grey haired woman called my name. She allowed me to come back to where he desk was so she could finally help me. This occurred at hour SIX.
She barked directions at me as she walked behind me: “Turn left. Turn right. Stop. Sit.”
It finally occurred to me that every probation officer walked behind me. It also occurred to me that most of the VOA staff walked behind me. It began to dawn on me that it was impossible for me to attack them this way. Better leave my nunchucks at home.
I once again explained my issue. This officer was a little bit slow so I explained it repeatedly. I was at her desk for almost an hour. I finally left with a paper in hand that she wasn’t sure was what they wanted. Good to feel like seven hours of your day was spent on something concrete and well researched. I trembled inside at how I would take the resistence from the community service office if this was the wrong paper.
Fortunately, my fears did not come to fruition and I finally had the paper I needed an hour later. It was a well achieved goal, after all I had spent eight hours trying to acquire it.