It’s Been One of “Those Days”

I rarely lose my composure with people – as in getting mad. I have been told I’m way too nice. I just don’t get mad. Today was one of those times it just slipped completely out of my grasp. Barely, I managed to avoid rudeness – I think. But the woman I was talking to on the phone could not have possibly mistaken my feelings on the matter about which we were conversing.

I was referred to the local Division of Family and Children’s Services office to find out whether I would qualify for any help with after-care expenses for my daughter. Last year I planned my school schedule so I was home to meet my daughter’s bus. This year I cannot do that. She will need to stay in after-care. However, at $50 per week, that’s a serious expense. I don’t spend that much on anything else in my budget other than rent.

DFCS has not been my favorite place in previous interactions. My child support puts me beyond qualification for any aid, yet it is not enough for us to survive. One of the workers there told me straight out, the only way anyone can survive on welfare is if they cheat the system. It is impossible.

But I had to ask. So the first question the woman asked me was how many hours I worked. I told her I was in school full time. Her reply was that even if I was in school full time I still had to work 35 hours per week to qualify for help with after-care. When I questioned that rule, she said, “this isn’t for 21 year olds who want to play, it’s for people who are serious about going to school and working to support themselves.”

My blood pressure soared. I asked her, “So I’m a single mom, taking an 18 credit hr. load (in case anyone wonders, that’s 54-72 study hrs. per week), with a 3.92 GPA, honors society president, volunteer work out the yin-yang – but I DON’T QUALIFY, because I’m not serious???” Later, of course, you think of all the good lines, like, “Do I sound 21 to you?” and “so it would be better for me to work at Wal-Mart for $7 an hour 35 hours a week instead of doing this, so I can get into a school like Harvard or Yale on a full scholarship? Let me think – which is more serious or a better career move? Which would be better for my daughter’s well being?” (And let’s never even mind about the whole physical limitations post cancer thingy – I can’t stand playing the sympathy card. It makes me even madder when someone makes me feel weak.)

But no, I let it go. Somehow, someway, God will figure it out. And my blood pressure came down out of the stratosphere. But I am frustrated. Feeling a little weepy tonight. I’m tired of the fight. I had to go down to campus on the bus today after that phone call in the gajillion-degree heat to apply for student loans, because that’s the only way I have any chance of surviving – and it won’t make the ends meet. I’m sure I’ll feel better in the morning once I’ve had a chance to cool off (in more ways than one) and rest. 😉


5 Responses

  1. I hope you get those loans. I’m sorry.

    I work at job at home for a company called liveops. I make my own schedule, and work when I can. The funds are directly deposited into my account every two weeks. Been there about a year now. LOL I take orders for informericals!

    If you are interested in some additional information about that – since I understand crazy schedules – it may help with you with the $50 a month doesn’t pan out!

  2. I’ll share your outrage, Danni. I am also one of those people that slips through the cracks. I have 3 children. I work full time now and make just enough that I don’t qualify for assistance (like paying utility bills, etc) but not enough to keep a roof over my head. I get (way too much) help from my generous mother and my child support would be generous if my ex-husband were actually making any money right now (he’s been in the mortgage business–so he’s waiting tables right now).

    I had a Systems Engineering professor once that said “rules are for dumb people.” While he was strange and arrogant, his point that semester was to teach us to think outside the box to find solutions to engineering problems and to take a broad range of facts into account.

    Unfortunately, dealing with these government assistance types, there is no gray area, and no way for them to consider a situation holistically. To get what we need, we have to be like the woman who pestered the unjust judge until he listened. Fortunately, for her, the judge had the authority to make adjustments to the rules. The local government employees we have to deal with do not. And, sadly, I have not often found them to be at the high end of the IQ scale. Reasoning with someone like that who also has no authority is kind of a lost cause.

    And because they see so many irresponsible people every day, they assume you are irresponsible too and treat you accordingly. That is the most insulting thing of all.

    Take care. I wish I could do more than offer sympathy. You do a lot for others. I’m sure there are a lot of women that are praying for you even now!

  3. I know what you mean abt the govt. assistance types. When I thought about the whole Wal-Mart vs Harvard/Yale bit, I thought, she probably wouldn’t even get it. She might very well be one of these people who tell you to get your head out of the clouds and back into reality. “Your kind” can’t expect better than Wal-Mart. Just because I’m over 40, over 150 lbs and not a hottie doesn’t not mean I haven’t got a world-class brain!

    So, I remember that God is my provider, not DFCS. And, one way or another, He hasn’t failed me yet. I know I’ll get school loans. Don’t know how much and I know they won’t cover all the bases even if I got the maximum; which I know I won’t get because they never give the maximum (and the govt. has been busily cutting funding for school loans, too – very helpful; I wish they’d concentrate on some pork instead of my meat and potatoes!!!)

    — Danni

  4. Danni~

    I have been dealing with Social services for the last several months… aaaiii!!!
    I did a post on one experience if you’re interested….

    (Sorry, I don’t yet know how to make this a hot link.)

  5. Katherine,

    Well, I tried to explain it, and it turned to html goo. So I’ll try to e-mail it to you!

    — Danni

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