Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Separating V's, F's hitting the chin: Jamaican Government Efficiency

Some of you may recall my story from Scotiabank, where it took me a half dozen trips to open a basic savings account. Or you may remember my rantings about work permit processes. Well, here comes some more :D

In November I first began the paperwork process to extend my work permit. Nov 30th I submitted all my paperwork and she said they would try to rush it so it'd be ready on Dec 12th. Well, last Friday I got a call and it was finally ready. So Dec 12th became January 20th. Yesterday I went to the ministry of labor and social security (MLSS) to collect the letter granting me the extension. The lady called me directly to inform me I could pick it up. So I arrive only to be told that I need a letter from CCCD (my quote-unquote "employer") granting me permission to collect the letter.

I clarify, "You mean I need a letter stating that I can pick up the letter that's  in my name?"

MLSS lady, "Yes, that's correct."

"Can I fax it?"

"No, fax machine is broken."

"So I need to go to Manchester, get a letter giving me permission to pick up the letter that's in my name, then come back and I can pick up my letter?"

"Yes, that's correct....hang on, the fax machine is working. 972-0991."

I get on the phone and call Nicholas, the campus manager at CCCD in Manchester. "Nicholas, sorry to bother you, MLSS says I need a letter from you granting me permission to pick up my paperwork. Could you fax that to them?"

"no problem, man"

"cool, thanks, the number is 972-0991"

"alright, i'm on it"

A minute goes by, Nicholas messages me. "That line doesn't work, all I get is a busy signal"

I go back up to the counter, waiting for someone to come. Another lady comes up this time, and I explain that the fax line is not working for my manager. She says, "oh, the number they wrote down for you is wrong, hang on"....she walks away, comes back and says "nevermind, that is the correct number."

"but my manager says he only gets a busy signal"

"tell him to keep trying"

"Nicholas, they say keep trying."

"Ok, well, I kept trying and someone who works at MLSS just picked up the phone and told me its not a fax line."

"Ma'm, my manager says this isn't a fax line, is there another number I could possibly try for a fax?"

"Sorry sir, that is the fax line and its the only one."

Needless to say, i'm slightly frustrated at this point, although hardly surprised. At the moment where I'm about to just leave the angel unaware shows up, in the form of another work permit applicant who is also dealing with some frustrations of her own as she waits to be serviced. Overhearing my conversations, she leans over to me and says, "I do work permits all the time with them, and I use the fax with extension 0996, tell your manager to try that one."

"Nicholas, another applicant just told me to try 0996, give it a shot."

"Ok, the lady who picked up the 'fax' line also gave me a different number, i'll try it.....Blake, I sent it it 0996 and it went thru, they should have it shortly."

"Cool, thanks Nicholas."

"My pleasure bro."

I wait a few minutes. MLSS lady comes up to the window, "your fax came through, go out these doors, down the hall to the right, thru the set of glass doors and ask them to hand you your fax, then bring it back."

"ok, thank you miss." I walk out the door, down the hall to the right, find the next doors, and go in...not really anyone there. I wait a minute a lady pokes her head out of an office, "can I help you, sir?"

"ummm, I think so. I'm supposed to pick up a fax in this office...?"

"What for?"

"Umm, work permit exemption."

"Oh, that office is down the hall to the left."

"I know, I just came from there, they said to come down here to pick up my fax."

"No, you need to go down the hall to the left."

"ok...." I walk out and start heading back to the work permit section when one of the ladies from there walks down the hallway. "Miss," I call, "I need to pick up a fax and the lady in there doesn't understand that it's there."

"Ok, hang on." she turns and graciously offers to help. Goes back to the same office I was just in, chats for a few minutes about who knows what, and then brings me my fax. It was there all the time.

"Thank you!" I carry the precious one sentence letter back to the first office (it says, I hereby give Blake Widmer permission to transact business on behalf of cccd, signed Nicholas) and turn it in. A minute later I'm signing a document and on my way. Wow, all of that just to pick up a letter in my name :D  So thankful that I am not the only one that gets the run-around, and that another poor lady facing her own frustrations was able to provide me with the right fax number, of which none of the employees knew about.

By the way, I was granted a 3 year extension til Dec 2013, so that means no more of this nonsense for a few sweet years!!!!

Although I wouldn't go so far as to say that I am learning patience, I will say that the Lord (and Jamaica, bless you) continue to present me with opportunities to practice patience!

Ahhhh, I'm screaming inside!
YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm PRAISING GOD that you got a good long stay this time! WOOHOO!:D

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