An Anxiety Stress Test with the IRS

Stress Test - noun
A test designed to assess how well a system functions when subjected to greater than normal amounts of stress or pressure

One of the major tenets of being in recovery is that I must learn to be present.  If I am able to present, I am able to rationally look at what is causing my anxiety.  Also as a part of my recovery, I am required to face fears head on.

Would you like to try a fun test with me to see how our recovery is going?  It involves fear and anxiety, so if we accomplish it, we get 1 life point, or a maybe a piece of cheese.  Let's take something we're afraid of.  Let's say that thing is the IRS.  Now, let's take something that makes us anxious.  Let's say that it's calling the IRS.  

Okay, it actually is the IRS, and I needed to modify my payment arrangements with them.  In order to do this, I need to talk to a human.  First thing's first.  Clear the calendar for a couple of hours, hours that arent too far outside of business hours.  Check.  Next, call the IRS. Che... che... che... oh shit.

I'm pretty sure that they've set up their systems of communication on the original blueprints to the game of Mouse Trap.  First thing's first, I need to find their number.  Let's try their website.  Bad idea.  No amount of searching led me to a phone number, but I did at least find where they acknowledge that they are "unnerving" with their correspondence, most of which they prefer to send certified so that you have to go to the post office to sign for it.  I'm pretty sure that the IRS is just a conspiracy cleverly disguised to keep the United States Postal Service in business.

 See, they actually know they're unnerving! Neat :)

See, they actually know they're unnerving! Neat :)

Yeah, it really was that easy.

Oh, since we were doing this test together (by which I mean you're doing it alone because I can't handle it again), here's their number: 800.829.1040.  Would you like to know the easiest way to find the phone number for the IRS?  Google of course.  One simple search: IRS 800 number.  It pops up on the very top of the search results. Thank you, Google, I love you.

You'll have to go through a million (I know that seems like a lot, but it's a million, I swear!) different menu levels, each with it's own 12 minute description of things you've never heard of.  Don't worry, you'll get to a human if you take the right path.  If you take the wrong path, you may end up being disconnected, or reach a point where there is no longer an option to go back.  The fastest way I've found to a human is 1, 2, 1, 4, 2.  Your results may vary. By the way, if on level four of the phone maze you press 9 to repeat the options, because of course, it told you to press 9 if you needed to repeat the options, it will tell you that you've chosen an invalid selection.

You'll know that you have finally reached the right place when you're asked to enter your social security number number.  Once you've done that, you just need to press 1 again to tell it that yes, in fact, you entered your social security number. Note, you're pressing 1 to tell it you've entered your social security number, not that you've entered it correctly.  If that all goes well, you'll get to the wondrous words, "Your estimated wait time will be between 30 and 60 minutes.  Now, please hold for some terrible elevator music which you cannot turn down or ignore, because the moment you turn it down or step away, you'll miss that elusive human that is waiting somewhere just up the tower, holding on to your little morsel of cheese.  

 Queue the second queue!

Queue the second queue!

Once you reach the 45ish minute mark of holding, the line clicks and a pleasant GPS style voice says, "Please wait."  And so you wait.  The anticipation is building.  You're going to get a human.  Wait, there's a message in Spanish.  No, your Spanish isn't good enough to figure out what she's saying.  That's okay, I'm 'please waiting' and I'm almost there.  Just as the knot in your stomach has turned to a ball in your throat because you really don't want to talk to the IRS, but it's about to happen... Boom... The bomb is dropped.  

"Your estimated wait time is between 30 and 60 minutes.  Calls are answered in the order they are received.  Please do not hang up."  Crap.  All of that jitteriness to just be routed into a second queue.  If you're as lucky as me, you'll get to go through that one more time when you're dropped into a third queue and another batch of Spanish you couldn't quite catch.  

 Yay, a human!

Yay, a human!

At approximately one hour and forty minutes, your call is finally answered by a pleasant young fellow.  Tell him what's going on, and give him some time to work his magic.  In about fifteen minutes time, he'll assure you that everything on your account is all set and there's no need to worry.  

Crisis averted, cheese acquired.  

A one hour and fifty-six minute stress test of coping with anxiety.  How'd we do?  Let's just say we got through it.

 Praise be to the Gods that's over!

Praise be to the Gods that's over!