Hello, what can I do for you?
As a booking agent for entertainers who aren't exactly world-famous yet, you'd think Sharon Curtiss-Rivera would be excited each time her phone rings. Well, yes and no. At least, not the 1,015 times she fielded calls between last August and February of this year ... from Medicaid recipients in Missouri whose benefits were to be cut. Do you sense a disconnect here? Oh, yeah, especially since Curtiss-Rivera lives more than 1,000 miles away - in Columbia Falls, Mont. It seems the Missouri Department of Social Services, by mistake, gave out her toll-free number as the "hot line" to call with questions about the cuts. Over the months, she spent almost 13 hours on the receiving end of complaints, even though she could have hung up on them. "[It] started off to be horrifying," she said, "but ... turned into a positive thing. I felt like I did some nice things for quite a few people. I know a lot of [them] appreciated the fact that I was ... considerate and respectful ," even though social work isn't exactly her forte. When word of the situation reached the social services folks back in Missouri, they decided it was only fair that she be compensated for the inconvenience and asked her to send an invoice. So they've issued a check for $233 to cover her time and phone bill. In case you're wondering, the calls are still coming.