I needed information for a client regarding export sanctions against a country. The logical place to start was the US Department of State, often referred to as the “State Department.” You have heard of the State Department, right? You haven’t been living in a cave for the past six months, have you? Well, obviously the operators at information have been.
Me – Calling Information (1411): I need the number for the Houston Office of the State Department.
Operator: The Houston Office of what?
Me: The US State Department. I think they have an office in Houston.
Operator: So it’s a Federal Agency?
Me: (Amused. Yes, that’s what the US means…) Yes, it is. But I think they have an office in Houston.
Operator: I need to pass you to my Assistance Supervisor.
Operator 2: Can I help you?
Me: Yes, I need the phone number for the Houston Office of the U.S. Department of State.
Operator 2: A federal office?
Me: Yes, the location in Houston.
Operator 2: Ma’am, I have several listings for different departments, but there isn’t a Department of State. I can give you a general number though.
Does she know something I don’t know? I mean, it’s THE State Department. It’s one of those key departments. Like the Treasury. You have to have heard of them. I still can’t believe Information told me that they don’t exist.
When I talked to the State Department, after finding their phone number on the website and calling them directly, they were amused to find out that they do not exist. They assured me that they do, in fact, exist and quickly gave me the information I needed… a happy ending to my wild goose chase!