I went to check my bank account yesterday. I hesitated as I punched in the numbers that would bring my balance to the screen. With one hand slightly covering my eyes, and the other hovering near the 'cancel' button, I fearfully looked at the screen.
I hate it when my bank account screams in agony like that.
Sighing, I got back into my car and casually laid my head on the steering wheel.
"Momma," my 4 year old called from the backseat, "why you laying your head down? Is you tired?"
"Yes, baby." I replied without picking up my head. "I'm very tired."
"What are you tired from?" My Red Head asked from behind me in the her booster seat.k And just in case I didn't hear her the first time, she repeated herself.
"I'm tired of being broke," I informed her. "I'm not sure how I'm going to navigate life without a job."
"Navigate," she said. "Are you going somewhere?"
Sighing, I said never mind. I put the car into drive and headed home.
Visions of my negative balance danced in my head as I manuevered the car into my neighborhood. As the kids giggled back and forth, I tallied up the monthly bills.
I'm good. But, even I can't make a negative balance pay the bills each month.
See, I got fired almost two weeks ago. After a year of employment, the powers-that-be decided I was no longer a good "fit". I know (and so do they) the real reason I got let go. There's really no reason to recount them here. What's done is done. I have more important things to worry about at the moment. Like how to pay my house payment. Or how to keep the lights one.
Or, most importantly, how to keep my cable on....at least during football season.
So, today I went to the Department of Social Services. I sat at the desk of my caseworker as she looked over my paperwork and quietly judged me. I leaned forward to see what she was typing into that desktop computer of her's. I answered "yes ma'm" and "no ma'm" to her repetitive questions.
No, I do not get help from family, friends, outside agencies, federal government, aliens, the old lady down the street, my crush from years ago, my crush from weeks ago, my neighbor, or anyone else. Yes, I have two kids. Are they illegal? Why? Will that help me get assistance? Because if so, then, why yes...they are illegal. I bought them off the black market yesterday.
She didn't think that was funny.
Yes, english is my primary language. But, if it helps me get emergency foodstamps, then we primarily speak Swahelii. No? It won't? Oh, well, just put us down for bad english then.
No, we are not of hispanic origin. No, we are not hispanic period. We are Native American. Lumbee to be precise.
What? What do you mean you can't help me keep my lights on? What does me being Indian have anything to do with South River receiving their money in time and; thus, allowing me to keep my tv tuned into football on Sundays and Mondays?
You are restricted from helping Natives? Are you serious? I thought all that ended when we intergrated into the school system. It's the 21st century, for-crying-out-loud. I thought we had put aside this petty business of racisim and banded together to hate the angry muslims.
Still no smile from the caseworker. This broad is a hard nut to crack.
She directed me to my tribe for "Emergency Energy Assistance". "They can help you." She informed me.
So, I called the tribe and explained my situation. I gave my best heart-felt plea. I made my situation as dour as I possibly could. Yes, I lost my job. I was not merely fired, but I was escorted out by a group of neo-nazis wearing camoflouge and carrying high powered rifles. My kids are starving, I told them. The 4 year old hasn't ate in days. My Red Head is so emanciated, that her beautiful hair is falling out. Flys are buzzing around the kids.
"I'm sorry," the lady on the phone said. "We can't help you."
"We don't have any funds right now. We are supposed to get them in sometime in October. But, I am not sure."
"So, you mean to tell me you can't help me? At all? No other agency will touch me because I belong to you, and you can't help me? Really? Seriously?"
I lost my temper. I'm not proud.
After repeated apologies from the lady on the other end, I hung up the phone. Disgrunted, dejected, disheartened, and pissed off, I made my way back home.
I might as well enjoy the lights and air conditioning while I still have it.
As I sit and marinate on my predicament, I know I am not the first single mother in the history of America to be out of work and struggling. Hell, these days, millions of people are bypassing the mailbox because they just can't bare to look at another past due bill. Thousands of people, here in this very city, line up at the unemployment office everyday hoping against hope for something. Anything. Used to be if you lost one job, another one was literally right around the corner. These days McDonald's isn't even hiring.
And don't get me started on unemployment. It is a mere fraction of what a worker was actually getting paid. Personally, it is going to take three weeks of checks to equal what I owe in a house payment. Whatever is left will have to be given to the utility people.
It all sucks monkey butt.
All of this makes me want to hop into my car and pay a visit to my congressman. Imagine the scene, if you will:
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Hello, Congressman...... My name is Wes. I know you don't give a rat's ass about me, but I care greatly about you. See, I have recently fell on hard times, and being you-technically-work for me, I want to know what you are going to do about it.
I have paid into the North Carolina tax base for several years. Now, that I need a little help, I am being told I can't get any. Why? Where are my taxes going to? I know it's not the roads. Have you driven down my neck of the woods lately? No? Well, I promise once you are do, you will need a new front end allignment. I'm aware that very little money is going into the school system. Ya'll seem to want to always cut that first before anything else. Trust me, I have experienced this first hand. My kid, special needs mind you, didn't get into pre-k because of budgetary cuts. But, thanks to my trusty softball bat, a little kid couldn't make it and he was granted a spot.
What? Don't judge me.
So, where's the money going? It's not healthcare. I was informed today that on unemployment, I make too much for medicaid. Really? Your people are telling me that as an unemployed worker, I don't get any medical benefits at all. Why? Can you tell me that?
And I know it's not going to retirement for the state employees. Ya'll seem to want to rob them blind left and right. Trust me, I know that too. Plus, their health insurance sucks as well.
So, Mr. Big-Ole-Congressman, where is my money going? Where are all the taxes that I have paid gone to? Wait.....is that your Rolls? Dang, that's a nice ride."