With nearly every level of city life in Coronavirus lockdown, a financial seiche has thrown tens of thousands of New Yorkers from the boroughs into the East River. Those without a regular salary to keep them buoyant are suddenly slapping the water. Everyone from the restaurant servers to film production assistants and per diem teachers are now floating. So far, though, the only life jacket being flung at them is in the shape of unemployment insurance claims. But even those have been hard to grasp.
As more and more people have reached out for help, the State Department of Labor’s phone lines and website have gone AWOL. They’re active one minute, than gone the next. The affect has been maddening. Take the website, for example. You’re about to submit your ten page insurance application when poof — the little button you hit bounces you back to page one. The website’s engineers have also programed a thesaurus full of “We apologize for the inconvenience” variants ready to vex you too.
Take this, for instance. It’s the sorry, you’ve been “timed out” variety:
And here’s the oops, we can’t find the benefits page you spent the last 22 minutes populating type:
There’s also the lunch, I mean “scheduled downtime” — We need to internally process! — come back later warning:
And finally, the “scheduled downtime” warning paired with what looks like a useful navigation menu. However, the menu’s “access keys” won’t take you anywhere they advertise. Pick one and — surprise! — you’ll be logged off the website entirely:
Now, earlier today on its Twitter feed, the Department of Labor wrote: “Our IT team is working around the clock to address our web application and any interruptions in service.” That may be, but they better hurry. I, for one, tried filing for unemployment today but gave up after my 17th attempt. And I know I’m not alone. There’s an untold number of New Yorkers out here struggling to swim.