Readers’ Scoop: My Experience at The County Clerk’s Office in Lakewood

Dear TLS. I’d like to share my recent experience at the County Clerk’s Office in Lakewood. When I realized I needed a new passport for my daughter, I phoned the passport office in Lakewood at about 1:25 pm to inquire as to what was needed for the process.

The woman on the other line was extremely helpful, and said that being that they close at 4 pm, I should be at the office by 3:45 pm in order to process the application before closing.

And so I took off from work, picked up my daughter from school and my wife from her job, and headed over to the office. I arrived at the office at about 3:25 pm.

When we got to the door on the second floor, there was a female security guard from the County Clerk’s office at the entrance not allowing anyone in. She said being that the ‘room was packed with people’, they would not be allowing anyone else in for the day. She said I’d have to go to the Ocean County Mall instead.

I peeked in through the clear door, and there was two and possibly a third couple in ‘the packed’ room.

Seeing that the ‘heavy traffic’ in the office could ease up soon, I asked the woman if I would be allowed in if the families currently inside the office emerge prior to 3:45 pm – the time given to me by the County Clerk as the deadline to enter.

With a very unprofessional attitude, and being extremely confrontational and rude, the woman began huffing at me to stop arguing with her, because she won’t be allowing anyone in, even if the others emerged by 3:45 pm.

The display of complete undesirable customer service displayed by the female security guard prompted me to ask her for her name so I can file a complaint. She refused to give me her name, and her jacket she was wearing was covering her name tag. (An official later revealed to me that her name is Cindy).

Meanwhile, two customers had already left the office, but she would still not let us in, though it was before the 3:45 pm deadline.

At that time, I phoned the County Clerk’s office and explained to the woman that I was not looking to enter while it was ‘packed’, but rather when the clerks are done with the others. The woman on the other line understood, and said she would come to the door.

A moment later, at about 3:35 pm, a clerk by the name of ‘Patty’, opened the door to allow us in. 

Patty, a professional and fine-spoken clerk assisted us calmly through the passport application process, and we were out of the office by about 3:50 pm.

I’m writing my experience in hopes that the proper authorities can appropriately address the issue, so that others can enjoy a better experience at the Government office.

If any officials would like to contact me for confirmation of the story, I can be reached through TLS.

(TLS welcomes your letters by submitting them to [email protected]).

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  1. People who who work in government positions often forget who they are working for, we pay their salary . ” government for the people by the people …….”

  2. The people who work in the Ocean County clerk’s office at Lakewood are some of the nicest and helpful people I’ve ever met. The security guard is obviously not from the clerk’s office, but an outside government agency. (Homeland Security???)

    Generally speaking, people who work for the government don’t care about the people that they are serving. They are all part of the public sector unions, they get whatever they want by threatening to strike, and they have no incentive to please their customers.

    The exception to this rule is the employees at the Ocean County Clerk’s office. They really care about making others happy.

    The private sector, on the other hand, needs to make a profit. Therefore, they want your business. Therefore, they need to make you happy or you will go elsewhere. Therefore, the private sector businesses make the extra effort to make you, the customer, happy.

    That is why capitalism will always be the best system in the world, even if flawed.

  3. This is a good news/bad news issue. The good news is that, based on your persistence, you prevailed in making application for the passport. The bad news is that a County employee did all in her power to thwart your efforts. The remedy was the result of your tenacious nature and sense of right and wrong to appeal to a County professional, who agreed with your position.

    So the good news is that there are dedicated, hard-working, accommodating, County Employees, and the bad news is there are some County Employees that should not be there.

    I am happy to see that you took an appropriate action to protect your rights and your sanity. I can now only hope that there is a follow-up at the County, so that they can take an appropriate action with the employee that should not be there.

    Enjoy your trip, my friend.

  4. I’d say its a communication Problem…this can take place in any Workplace…I think we need to design and implement new strategies…to create better communication.

  5. Cudos to the one who wrote in to TLS! You can now be sure to find a letter in your mailbox from the TWP Comittee explaining how they are ‘working on it’ and/or Thanking you for reaching out to them. They may even ‘Honor’ u for insisting on getting ur application in, & hey – hopefully they’ll even host a ribbon cutting ceremony for your families NEW passports. But 1 thing for sure – That Security Guard (with all the attitudes in the world) will REMAIN for many more people to experience the same. Have no fear!! 🙂 🙂 Thanks for writing!!!

  6. Kol Hakavod for not taking this lying down .
    Who do you think is paying the salary for these workers ?
    It is us hardworking taxpayers.
    We do not deserve to be mistreated. Thank you again.
    You talk for all of us who have been inconvenienced and disrespected by some of these unaccountable government employees. The trouble is that most of us are lazy to stand up for what is right. We kind of have a resigned to our fate attitude, not believing that we can make a difference. We need to all express our displeasure and bring some accountability and transparency to these little dictators (who we pay their salary). Good for you and keep it up !!!

  7. I had a great experience at the passport office there as well nice smiling ppl there to help you.
    all i can say is that that is the only office in that building that has nice professional people working there.

  8. #4 Would you rather have a return to the Spoils System with public employees holding office at the whim of the party in power? Parties used to extort public employees for campaign donations to retain their jobs. Would this further the public interest more than a professional civil service?

    Where does a federal employee from Homeland Security have jurisdiction over anyone in a state office?

    Since the 1980s, our sovereign governments (state and federal) have been streamlined and become more “customer friendly” and efficient. However, in our quest for greater efficiency, public employees have to remember—Government does not have to efficient, it has to be fair.

    Private business do not inform you of your rights and your interests on their own without a legal mandate. The interests of a customer otherwise are subordinated to those of the shareholders and are furthered only when both are consistent. The driving principal of a business is profit.

    Montesque wrote that the driving principal of a Monarchy is honor, of a Tyranny is fear, and of a Republic is virtue. I add that the driving principal of any government is public service.

    As usual, I cite from history. We had two presidents from the business world, Warren Harding and George W. Bush. The rest were lawyers, soldiers and government administrators.

  9. Why in the world should any citizen have to be inconvenienced to drive to the mall 25 minutes away & walk another 5-10 minutes (doing this all two times) to apply for a necessary passport?? Don’t you realize that, to their credit, our county government is paying rent employee salaries to have an office where it’s more convenient for residents in northern ocean county?? An employee with an attitude problem like this takes all the money the county spends on this office and throws it in the garbage. My question remains how many other citizens has she added unnecessary hardship to their lives??

  10. A. Lang

    I will not bother to reply to each of your points, each of which is full of misinformation and half truths.

    I do have exactly 30 seconds to pint out to you the difference between the US Postal Service (Government-run) and UPS and FedEx (privately owned).

    The service is infinitely better at the privately owned companies, not to mention that the govt-run USPS is bankrupt.

    My point wasn’t that the government should be shut down. My pojnt was that this is a typical example of how the private sector is accountable to the govt AND to the customers PRECISELY because it needs to make a profit and it needs happy customers to do so.

    The govt, on the other hand, is accountable to no one. Yes, they may convince your ilk that their mantra is customer service, but if they don’t follow up with customer service, what exactly will happen? The customers will complain on TLS? Really? You know nothing will happen, as the public sector unions will protect every govt employee.

    All your idealistic wishes for utopian government proved itself pretty well in Communist Soviet Union, don’t you think? I’m sure the Communists wanted great customer service for their poor subjects when they lined up for their soup rations.

    So do we really want the govt taking over healthcare too?

    Private sector profits motivate company employees to make their customers happy precisely to keep their profits coming in.

    Public sector “customer service” doesn’t motivate most people, such as that security guard who had absolutely no reason to be accomodating to this couple in the passport office.

  11. As an Ocean County employee I take exception about county employees. Do not paint us all with the same brush, I for one protect many Ocean County residents by doing my job professionally and with a smile, I like to be treated in a decent manner just as you all do. Again I find it to be unfair, cast the blame where it lays, the employee, noone else. Just remember by doing my job I indirectly or directly protect all residents of this county and dont appreciate being lumped in with one persons bad experience. Thanks for taking the time to read and understand this post.

  12. Now that the passport experience is behind you, maybe find out which organization the security guard works for and address the issue with that organization’s human resources department?

  13. i would be equally annoyed and upset if that happened to me…it’s been a while but i think a simillar thing DID happen to me there….just to make a point for Cindy tho: There are MANY that make a chillul Hashem, they show up at 3:42 and expect to go in…government offices DO close on time/on the dot. and it’s possible she has encountered many that make a chillul Hashem in that aspect, are late and rude to her. So could be she’s already on the defensive.

  14. 1.Every government employee should have their name displayed.

    2.Every government agency should have a benchmark of acceptably
    complaints/month per employee .

    3.Every agency should have a simple easy to access reporting system

    Any employee that passes that benchmark should be warned/fired . These are essentially our/public employees and we should not have to beg for decent courteous service !!!

  15. to #4

    “Generally speaking, people who work for the government don’t care about the people that they are serving. They are all part of the public sector unions, they get whatever they want by threatening to strike, and they have no incentive to please their customers.”

    Please do not lump all county employees together claiming we don’t care about serving the people of Ocean County With your anti-union nonsense. My county division works tirelessly 24 hours a day to help the people of this county. We strive to make sure every resident we interact with is satisfied that they were helped.

    This security guard my very well have been wrong or may have been having a bad day or whatever and if that’s the case they should be disciplined. However, in fairness to play devils advocate is it not possible that this guard was following their SOP’s that may state not to allow more residents after a certain time in order to allow the office to close on time. We as taxpayers myself included constantly complain about our taxes, if that office remains open past 4pm it is highly likely the employees are now receiving overtime either to process the resident or clean up. That now results in an increase in taxes to accommodate residents who want to push the limit rather then arriving earlier.

    Years ago I worked for Target and we locked the doors 10-15mins before closing to ensure the store closed on time and so management didn’t pay dayshift employees past 10pm. You seem to be in such support of the un-unionized private sector and yet they do they same thing. It didn’t matter what your story was once the entrance door was locked there were no more customers.

  16. What exactly are you taking exception at??

    In the Story and 17 comments thus far posted, I haven’t seen anyone in any way state anything that could be construed as painting with a broad and disparaging brush all county employees in general.

    What I have seen though, is what certainly appears to be a serious call for an investigation into improper behaviors of one guard employed on the county clerk’s premises.

    If I would be employed by the county I wouldn’t even think of feeling insulted.

    Why are you???

  17. Ok, let’s look at it this way: Maybe the security guard has been working there for 10 years and is already embittered by the way things tend to work in our circles: We come flying through 5 minutes before closing time with 3 or 4 kids in tow, make a loud fuss about the time, don’t even glance in her direction, much less offer her a “good afternoon” or “thanks, have a great day,” and generally give over a feeling of owning the place. (Ever try driving through town? Same attitude with the drivers…) We might be accustomed to this, and in an all frum establishment maybe it’s not that big of a deal (!), but to the goyim of Lakewood is IS a big deal (and rightfully so). So while it’s true that THIS woman did nothing wrong, and was there on time, to “Cindy” it could have just been the end of a long day of not really such pleasant patrons? Hm? Possible? Go through your day out and about town looking at it all through the eyes of an outsider…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked why Jews don’t use blinkers, or think they own the road, or are we not allowed to say good morning??? I’m not justifying her actions, and she is definitely WRONG, but maybe that’s why “Cindy” has become so rude? Just a thought.

  18. The Ocean County Clerk’s employees in the Lakewood office are the most friendly and helpful gov. personnel I have ever met! I have suggested to people from Brooklyn to come here to process their passports. It is a pleasure to deal with them.

  19. to#4
    first of all the civil servant is not allowed by law to strike. the civil servant is also a tax payer who probably gets nothing from the system except a pay check , and their wages are not elaborate.
    you should try dealing with the public everyday and keep a positive attitude. give them a break and stop whining, they are not there for your beckoning call.

  20. This past Friday I was at that office to acquire County ID cards for two of my children. In fact, the County stopped issuing those cards several years ago, but I did not know that.

    There were several people ahead of me, so I patiently waited my turn. About a minute after I arrived, one of the clerks working there looked up and pleasantly asked me what I was there for, and I told her.

    She informed me that those cards are no longer issued, and advised me to go to the Motor Vehicle Agency for a non-driver ID.

    Then she smiled, and said how glad she was that she had saved me from waiting any longer for a disappointment.

    I’m glad that we have at least SOME county workers whose courtesy and thoughtfulness makes Lakewood a better place

  21. #23—Read a little closer, statements like #4 that gov’t employees dont care about the public, #2 about g-d forbid leaving 4 minutes late, #1o who is paying their salaries, we hard working people, should I go on..for the record i put the public first, sometimes before my own family, work all hours during the day and night, miss holidays, birthdays and other important things. You asked what I take exception to, these are just a few things, and I’m not complaning, or making excuses for this guard, just do not lump us all together, you may know me, or need my services one day, and i hope you do not, but if you do you might just change your opinion. I can leave my number with the editor of this site if you would like to discuss this more, just let me know. Have a good night my friend>

  22. Better planning, my friend.
    My daughter, as well, needed a passport. I printed the forms from the (treife) internet a few days before and filled them out. I got there at 8 in the morning, together with my wife and daughter. The clerks were all smiles and very pleasant to deal with. They even took the passport photos and gave my daughter a choice of 3 different shots to choose from. Wow, it was really a breeze. On top of all that, my daughter got to school on time and I even had time to stop for a cup of coffee before work!

  23. #4 Do not patronize me. I have been I have teaching and studying for longer than you have been alive. I am not exposed to misinformation.

    But I am glad you mentioned FedEx because I been living at my address for 13 years and FedEx still cannot find my address. Not only that, but I now have a claim against them for sending back a package that was put into their system to redeliver and recorded on Dec 21, which they confirmed on Dec 23 for redelivery and then sent back to sender on Dec 26 at an expense of $150 to me. From what I understand is that FedEx uses part time non-Union employees who do not approach their job with the professionalism that of UPS and Postal Workers.

    Do you enjoy calling up people in India to handle your problems? That is going on now with trying to get the sender to file a claim with FedEx.

  24. #4 Also, you made a mistake about a federal employee in a county office, something that is not in any way or shape part of channels of interstate commerce, like an airport.

    There are scholars out in TLS land, people who do not get their information from talk radio, but from studying textbooks and doing real research subject to peer review.

    I think this guy Savage said in 2001, the last time I heard him, the Democrats will make Bill Clinton Secretary General of the UN. No American, Soviet, Chinese, English or French can be Secretary General of the UN.

    I complained to the English principal of my son’s yeshiva that his American history teacher taught from Rush Limbaugh (a radio entertainer with a degree in broadcasting rather than knowledge in the field, that comes from academic study, historic research and peer review). He replied, “What’s wrong with that?”

    Compare to the public school educator who is responsible for teaching to the New Jersey core curricular standards, keeping professional practices, who understands the importance of written policies, due process and accountability. I taught in history in a mesivta for over a decade and in LHS for a decade and the quality of instruction cannot be compared.

    This same Limbaugh said that it does not harm the economy to borrow from foreigners in 1993, the last time I listened to him. I remember learning the exact opposite when I studied Macroeconomics.

    Teachers, who happen to be public employees, do not make these mistakes. Why don’t you read my article I posted today, notably ft. nt. 7 to see my opinion of capitalism.

  25. Ok the county recently instituted a new time keeping system. The system is set so if an employee works from 8 AM – 4 PM they must punch in & out within a 7 minute window before or after their shift. They must punch out at their home base so in this case she has to check out at Ocean County Park Security office. Any time after the 7 minute window is OT and they must justify why. That probably is why the situation occurred.

  26. To Mr. Lang # 31,

    Fyi, I moved to my current address over 6 years ago, and I can recall at least 3 times where FedEx was unable to deliver my package to me because.. they couldn’t find my address on their map!

    Just commiserating with you on this one 🙂

  27. This same exact story happened to me twice very recently. Since the clerks office closes before my children are out from school, I scheduled my passport pictures for Friday afternoon when my kids are home early.

    I got them all ready for Shabbos early and went down to the clerks office way before closing. There was this nasty guard outside who gave me such attitude before I even opened my mouth! I tried again the next week Friday and even came a half hour earlier – same scene repeated itself!! Since when are there guards outside the clerks office?

    I also phoned the County Clerks main office to file a complaint but it seems that there is no one to talk to.

    I drove down to the OC Mall and was done in 20 minutes.

    Shame on the Lakewood office. Every employee there should be fired for good with no pension (including the NICE ones inside who let this behavior go on without reporting it to their superiors). You are public employees – which means WE pay your salary. You chose a position to SERVE the public. Not to step on us.

  28. i would venture to say the security guard had a long day and wanted to make sure that she would be able to leave exactly at closing not having to stay later due to last minute arrivals
    its obvious that a high IQ or people skills arent a requirment for the job of baby sitting the ocean cty clerks branch office and the officer who was on duty proves the point

  29. To Yid says: EXACTLY RIGHT !!
    Does anyone remember the nightmare dealing with Motor Vehicle before when state employees ran things A few words come to mind RUDE, OBNOXIOUS, ARROGANT,NASTY Individuals to say the least ?

  30. I renently went to the Lakewood DMV and was greeted by impatient,nasty, frowning, and angry people who snapped at me when asking questions. I think they should buy scotch tape and tape their lips in a smile form. This will help them look drop more pleasent. Haughty people! and we pay their slaraies!!! They should lick our feet when we come throught the door!!!

  31. first of all you should get your facts right. the people that work there are county workers, the guard is also a county worker. the guards are thier because the clerks asked for them. the only reason the guard would not let people in is because the clerks tell them thats all the people aloud in. the only reason the clerk let you in is because she knew she was wrong at that time off day to keep you out, and was affraid you would call her boss ! but yet she will make the guard out to be the heavy, and now she looks good.

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