as heck (a more lady-like four-letter-word),
and I can’t take it anymore!
I’ve had to store everything I own (that was near and dear to me) in a bag yet maintain my lady-like presence.
I’ve had the experience of applying for food stamps and being told they “weren’t sure” if I qualified when my income was only $5,000 per year. And I had to give them a list of my monthly expenses. (Are you kidding me? $5,000 per year isn’t enough to live on in ANY city, no matter what your expenses are–unless you’re a dependent child, I suppose…)
I’ve had to apply for jobs with a smile on my face, clean, well-manicured, well-dressed, seemingly happy and well-adjusted, responding to the interrogation (that is today’s job interview) as pleasantly and self-assuredly as I could while not knowing whether or not I’d have a bed to sleep on that night.
I’ve had to fill out twenty (yes, twenty!) pages of paperwork, including proof of my U.S. citizenship, questions as to whether I’d ever received government assistance, math, spelling, IQ, and personality tests, criminal background and drug check agreements and questions pertaining to my political beliefs–just to apply for a low-paying entry level job. One such test asked me several times (and in several different ways) whether or not I used heroin, got into fist fights or got upset at work. I answered “no” to all and thought I’d pass the test with flying colors. Nope. I failed. Apparently, that company prefers to hire employees who use heroin, get into fist fights regularly and get upset while at work? I was unable to question my “failure” on the test, however. It was against their rules, the test results were final, and their corporate office was located in another state.
An employee of a homeless shelter accused me of “acting like you think you’re better than the other women here” because I bathed, kept my clothes clean, stayed away from drugs and alcohol and tried to keep an optimistic attitude (and actually smile) in spite of my circumstances. (But then again, I did complain about the stale, moldy food we were served at the shelter, and the staff’s hiding donations that were supposed to go to us. Guess that made me an ungrateful “tenant” too.)
I learned quickly not to smile. I began to look and feel sad. “You seem to be adjusting to this place,” I was then told.
Oh yeah, I adjusted alright. And the mental and physical health problems I developed as a direct result from being homeless–and from the previous years I’d spent struggling financially until that fateful day finally arrived–will be with me for a lifetime.
Too bad I don’t have health insurance.
So why do you suppose some poor people are afraid to apply for assistance…?
Do ya’ think there might be something wrong with the way our system interacts with the poor?
The years go by and the debts grow bigger,
even though I’m doing more and more
with less and less…
Am I mad? Hell, yeah!