As previously mentioned, I work for a company that has a fair number of contracts with New York City. Most of my acquaintances labor under the misapprehension that that state of affairs usually means easy money for not much work. Wrong, my friends! Once you work for NYC, that state of affairs is definitely true. But if you work with NYC, it usually means tremendous amount of bureaucracy, wasted efforts, idiotic forms in quadruplicate, and, last but not least, a lot of wasted time and great efforts applied to the process of actually being paid for your services.
According to my boss, who has been in this racket for a good twenty years, no agency in New York City is equal in the amount of sheer stupidity to the Department of Homeless Services; it did not take long for me to begin to see the wisdom of his words. Here is just one charming example.
A subcontractor was hired by both us and DHS to perform a certain task; the task itself took less than one day. The subcontractor submitted a standard invoice to us, including all the forms that the City would require, and even couple that they usually do not. We, in turn, have submitted our invoice to the DHS; and the fun begun!
First, DHS just decided not to pay our invoices (that one including). Their funds were frozen; their director retired; the acting director did not know what the heck was flying; the new director had to be brought up to speed. Blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum. Meanwhile, we would get constant requests for minor corrections: the amount of cents is wrong; this letter is small instead of capital; this is on the left when it should be on the right; this title is wrong, etc, etc, etc. After every minute correction would be performed, our company would get a reassurance that "the check is in the mail"; then, next week another correction on another invoice is requested. Basically, a barrel of laughs.
And then, one fine day, another call came from DHS for my boss. After two minutes into the conversation, he interrupted and asked for a whole file on above mentioned subcontractor. After about half an hour of conversing with an esteemed public official, he returned to my desk. Something in his face gave me the idea that he just about reached the end of his rope, so to speak. "Barbara", he finally produced with a hysterical half-laugh, "would you mind calling this subcontractor and telling him that DHS requires time cards to be submitted according to the original Hebrew Bible, with week's beginning on Sunday, not on Monday? Apparently, they missed the last two thousand years and have not gotten on with the program yet."
My poor boss! At least he could still joke about it. Mind you, as mentioned before, that task took less than a day, plus, it was performed in Wednesday! After a few more involved conversations, the benevolent public official consented to accept that non-uniform time card, and promised the immediate payment. Yea, right. The check is still in the mail.