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. 😉