This pandemic has changed the way we live. We all feel that. How long it will last is anyone’s guess.

I’ve been furloughed, and for over three weeks have been unsuccessful in opening an online account to file for unemployment, or so I thought. It turns out after hours and hours of calling the phone hotline and then struggling to get someone who could help me I was told I already have an account from over 30 years ago under my maiden name.

That is why I could not open an account — I already had one and had no idea.

Maybe I should have known I already had this account, but I don’t remember even filing for unemployment all those years ago. I didn’t file online — there was no public internet back then.

I am not yet out of the woods. I have to hope they can successfully change my account with all the updated, submitted documentation. I have to pray they can link my account to my claim; this part is crucial because everything needs to match up perfectly, be 100% correct.

Unemployment Insurance office located at the Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building . DLIR
The state’s unemployment insurance office located at the Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building earlier this month. Filing claims has been a nightmare process for many during the COVID-19 crisis. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

I have to trust that I can get into the system to complete the other steps involved. And then, actually get my benefit. My confidence in all of this being accomplished is low. I do not have much faith in the state’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. But I remain hopeful.

To watch someone go through this, to hear the fact that one-third of Hawaii’s workforce have lost their jobs, is one thing. You might sympathize, but until you experience this madness you have no idea what it truly feels like to be frustrated on a level this huge.

Luck Of The Draw

The fear many will not be able to pay their bills, buy food, continue to help those who they’ve been supporting is real. And to wonder whether you will ever get a benefit that you, by law, qualify for, is beyond comprehension.

I’ve come to realize that filing for unemployment is about the luck of the draw. For some unknown reason many have had no problems.

Thinking outside of the box in a time like this is critical.

Others, have not fared so well. If I see another “We are experiencing a high volume of users…” or “An internal error has occurred…” one more time, my head might explode. Probably not, but this is how I feel.

A system that is so broken and leaders who can’t seem to fix it is unfathomable. Thinking outside of the box in a time like this is critical.

I’m sure there are leaders who can’t sleep at night knowing things are not going well. But for those of us at home trying to get our hard-earned benefits through this antiquated system, it is far worse.

For the unemployed who have made it through with minimum struggle I applaud your success, you deserve it. But for those of us who haven’t been as fortunate I encourage you to not give up.

Continue to plod your way through this arduous process even as cold, quiet desperation starts to weave its way in. It is inexcusable that the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has become an inefficient and failed mess leaving so many at the mercy of incompetent — although still employed — leaders.

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