We are still alive!

This is the time of the year when we have to go to Centrelink to let them know we are still alive. Well, both Peter and I, are old age pensioners. We get the Australian pension plus a small monthly pension from Germany which is so small that it doesn’t affect our Australian pension.

As I said we have to present ourselves at the Centrelink office with a form that has been sent to us from Germany. Peter filled out both our forms (I only had to sign). With both these forms and our passports for identification we arrived at Centrelink. A woman very politely took all the details from Peter and then pointed to a row of seats telling Peter to wait there till his name was called.

I felt I was completely invisible but didn’t feel the need to draw some attention to me. Well,  she had advised Peter. And that was it. All I had to do was follow him and sit down beside him. After a while someone called “Peter” (no surname). I doubted Peter had been able  to hear this call. (He has again a bit of trouble with his hearing aid) I told him a “Peter” had been  called and that it may be him. Peter got up and a woman asked him to come over to a certain counter.  I followed.

In the past we had always been called to a table with seating provided for the two of us and the office person sitting opposite us and taking notice of both of us. So this time we just stood at a counter. But then it didn’t take very long at all to get the required certification and stamp. Peter handed over the papers, the Centrelink office worker very efficiently took care of these, soon handing them back to Peter. She didn’t say one word to me. I contemplated why on earth should she take notice of me?

I wondered whether she even had noticed that I was there. When I talked about this to Peter later on, Peter assured me that she must have seen me. How else could she have certified that I was still alive?

15 thoughts on “We are still alive!

  1. That kind of thing makes me furious, it’s so rude. As my mother is old, a little bit deaf and doesn’t always respond quickly, some officious people also ignore her and speak to me instead. I always say, “She’s here, ask her yourself.” I would think people in those sorts of jobs should be given some basic training as to how to treat clients as humans.

  2. Thanks for commenting, dear Cat. I think the training is geared towards efficiency. I do not doubt that they all work extremely efficiently. Sometimes Peter and I enter the doctor’s consulting room together. I’ve never experienced yet that a doctor would talk only to one of us. Anyhow, Peter was treated with due respect by the Centrelink staff, and this was good enough for me. To me being noticed wasn’t important enough, I don’t think. Otherwise I would have said something. Obviously, Peter didn’t feel the need to say something and I happily went along with it, staying quiet but secretly wondering what sort of experiences the staff there might have had with clients who were maybe a bit too outspoken. It seems to me efficiency comes with depersonalising human interactions to a certain degree.

  3. Hi Uta. This post struck such a chord with me that I sat down and wrote a post about it. I gave a link to your post. It was the word “efficient” that grabbed me thus I totally agree with your comment to Cat, especially the last sentence. Thanks for your thought-provoking post.

    1. Hi Pat. Thanks for your comment to my post. I am glad it struck a chord with you. To me being invisible sort of is really no big deal. I can live with it. I am just observing how things change over time.

  4. Hallo liebe Ute ein guter Beitrag, es ist schlimm wenn man im Alter alles alleine machen muss,ich hätte auch keine Hilfe von meiner Tochter kann ich so etwas nicht verlangen,man muss sich selber helfen.Wünsche dir einen schönen Abend es ist sehr heiß in Deutschland so richtig Sommer.Wünsche dir ein glückliches schönes gesundes Wochenende,und liebe Grüße von mir und bleibe Gesund.Gislinde

    1. Hallo, liebe Gislinde! Ich, Uta, wünsche dir auch ein recht schönes Wochenende. Geniesse das warme Sommerwetter!
      Peter und ich, wir sind beide 78. Du bist ja wohl etwas jünger. Ist dein Mann etwas älter als du?

  5. Great post. I am not sure whether this is an age gender thing or simply a gender thing because I experienced similar situations when with my husband even when I was very young. Some examples are during house renovations and getting my car fixed – after all what would a woman know about those things, so the builders and mechanics would simply ignore me and speak with my husband. However, as for paperwork, my husband hated it and always deferred to me.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth, for commenting.
      ‘What would a woman know about those things?’ I tell you, this woman would really know very much about those things! And paperwork is definitely not a favourite of mine. I am only too glad, when Peter offers to do the same along with his paperwork.

    1. To ensure that all paperwork is correct, I agree, Ian, this is very important. Peter and I, we each did get a notification from Germany that our monthly pensions from Germany have gone up by a few cents. Centrelink knew about it because this applies to all the pensions that come from Germany. Still, the rule is that we have to show the papers we received from Germany so they can take note of the exact amount. Since we had forgotten to bring these papers along, Peter was asked to bring in both papers asp. Well, he went back with the papers the following day. It wasn’t a problem! 🙂

  6. Hmm, very bad service. Not even eye contact? That’s just terrible.

    Weird – I didn’t know old age pensioners have to do that! Wow, that was interesting to me, Aunty Uta.

    1. I disagree, Noeleen, it was excellent service! Who needs eye contact in a situation like this? In one reply I wrote: “It seems to me efficiency comes with depersonalising human interactions to a certain degree.”
      So who am I to complain about efficiency? I think I can live with this, thank you very much. I was just a bit stunned how things keep changing all the time.
      As far as our Australian age pension is concerned we have to notify Centrelink only when our financial circumstances have changed. If we all of a sudden have come into a bit of money, This they definitely want to know about in case it is so much that we aren’t entitled anymore to receive the full Australian pension.
      Our German pension is so small that it doesn’t affect our Australian pension, But they do want to know if the German pension has increased even if it’s only by a few cents.
      The Germans require from us to let them know once a year that we are still alive. After all they do not want to send us any money once we are dead! 🙂 Centrelink is the place to go to to get it certified that we are still alive. Then we have to send the certified papers straightaway to Germany. But as I said, this is required only once a year.
      We are quite happy to receive this small German pension on top of the Australian pension. It usually pays for extra travelling. Not bad, eh?
      We get the German pension only because we worked in Germany for more than five years before we migrated to Australia. We paid taxes during our working life in Germany. The more taxes someone paid, the higher the pension. Since we didn’t pay in very much in Germany our German pension is quite small.

      1. How interesting the more you paid taxes, the higher is the pension – that’s very interesting. This means the rich remain rich and the lesser remain lesser even in pension age.

        I thought it was bad service she didn’t even look at you when she has to certify you’re alive, but maybe I read the tone of your post wrongly. Glad that you’re happy with it though!! 🙂

        Not bad indeed to receive also a bit from Germany. That’s pretty amazing, really.

        Well, it’s all good then Aunty Uta 🙂

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