Poor people are incredibly tired. It certainly requires a lot of work and causes great fatigue to work any full-time job, but being poor and trying to get help is like a full-time job and honey, it’s exhausting. It’s MENTAL exhaustion as well as physical. I claimed unemployment wrong one week back when I was receiving it, and the company I was temping for reported income on a different week than I did. It’s just a mix up, and I did report the income, but later on. So, it wasn’t deemed to be “fraudulent” but has taken weeks to clear up, and the resultant outcome is they want me to pay back the whole week of unemployment they paid me back then, which is a lot of money. I’m fine with this, theoretically. Though I claimed the work in another week, there was yet another week where they paid me back pay that had been waiting for release even though I claimed other work, and to try to go back now that the claim is over and fix this problem would be a compete nightmare. They overpaid me, now I owe them the money, fine.
I called them and said, look, I am working like 12 hours a month right now, I can’t pay you. Like I want to, but I can’t. “Oh, you can pay it off a little at a time,” they said. “But I can’t pay it at ALL. I’m in the middle of communications with my ex about how I can’t buy my kid ANY new school shoes this year, and no, I can’t pay for half. He also needs a haircut. Every time the kid needs a haircut, I suggest to my kid that he ask his dad to take him but then he comes back to me the next week, his hair longer than ever. We’re supposed to split expenses related to the kid, but it gets hairy (ha ha) when it comes to things like clothes and shoes and haircuts because we buy our own clothes for him at our own places, and don’t really share, though obviously stuff goes back and forth. We split the package of school supply expenses, but stuff like haircuts invariably fall to me again and again, because I am the “non-fun” parent and going and getting a haircut isn’t a fun activity like going bowling or whatever. I have been fine with that for a while but I can’t afford it anymore, so I had to expressly ask, when I am out of state next week will you PLEASE take the kid for a haircut before school starts, and I cannot pay half and I’m really sorry, but please do it. I’ve asked him before to take care of it and then when it’s trade day he says he just “didn’t get to it” so hopefully it will happen this time.
So yeah, I don’t have hundreds of dollars to send back to unemployment. I offered to pay them a dollar a month and they said that’s fine, but after “a certain amount of time” (they didn’t say how long), the claim will be turned over to the Ohio attorney general’s office so they can collect it. I asked if this would negatively affect my credit and they said no, it’s just after so many days, it goes to the AGs office, you can still take as long as you want to pay it off, but they are going to go after you for the money. This is a little disturbing.
So I wrote a letter to Mike DeWine asking for help and faxed it to his office and some dude from there called me a couple hours later. He said, we don’t have your claim here so I can’t help you. I said yes I know you don’t have it NOW, I’m trying to be proactive here. I am an Ohioan, he’s my state AG, this is obviously going to be forwarded to your office sooner or later and I’m trying to get ahead of it to avoid getting into trouble for non-payment. He said call us back when you get notice that it’s gone over there, and we can discuss it then. No idea what or if anything can be done about it, but that’s where I am. Writing the letter, tracking down the fax, the convo, that’s a couple of hours, easy.
I also realized I am now eligible for county childcare assistance. My kid participates in the before and after school program at school and it’s important we keep him in that. First off, every other week he’s with his dad so he needs the program for before/after care. But secondly and most importantly, if I *do* somehow get a job at any time during the school year, if he isn’t enrolled up front, he might not be able to get in because the program does max out and then we’d be screwed. There’s literally no other program in our area that starts as early and goes as late as the school’s extended care program. So I went ahead and enrolled him a couple months ago as I keep thinking ONE OF THESE DAYS I WILL HAVE A JOB AGAIN, AND WILL BE OUT OF THIS HELLHOLE I’M IN, but it hasn’t happened yet and school starts next week. So I go poking around on the web trying to find out about childcare assistance because NOBODY TELLS YOU A FUCKING THING, you have to figure out for yourself what you can get and how to get it.
I find information about the program and read the requirements and I’m eligible for sure, but I can’t figure out how to apply. You can apply for food and health care assistance online, but I don’t see anywhere for the childcare application. I find a PDF you can fill in so I spend 2 hours filling out the 10 page application and gathering up the other pages of stuff I have to submit with it and go to print it out and my printer isn’t working. I spend 90 minutes troubleshooting the printer and turning stuff off and on again and finally uninstall it and reinstall it and then it’s working. I run out of ink partway through, so I have to go down to Target and charge a new thing of ink. Except I won’t be able to do that much longer because Target has apparently gotten wind of my financial situation and is sending me notices demanding a “credit review.” MY ACCOUNT IS CURRENT AND PAID ON TIME. I have never missed a fucking payment and kept the card completely paid off in full every month up until early last month when my unemployment ran out. Now it’s carrying a large balance and all of a sudden they don’t like me anymore. The credit review will result in the available balance being cut off to something less than the current balance I carry, immediately a) causing my credit report to become worse, as my debt-to-income ratio shrinks further b) causing me fines because I am over the limit on the card and c) causing them to cancel the card because of item B. How do I know? BECAUSE THIS HAS HAPPENED WITH ALL THE CREDIT CARDS I’VE HELD OVER THE PAST YEAR. This is one of the last ones, and once they take Target away, I’m fucked. Anyway so I get new ink, print out the application, and look all over the website for a fax number. It says on the site you can fill out the application online, or you can mail it in. But it’s a big thick packet of papers and I don’t have an envelope that would hold them, and then I’d have to go buy an envelope just to fucking mail in something begging for help. I’m just tired of being nickel and dimed to death when I really need the few nickels and dimes I have. So I call the agency and get a guy on the phone and he’s like, you can’t fax it in, you can only fax changes to an existing application. I say can I do it by phone, as it says on the site you can apply via phone. He says no actually all we do is fill out the application with you on the phone THEN WE MAIL IT TO YOU SO YOU CAN REVIEW IT AND SIGN IT, THEN YOU HAVE TO MAIL IT BACK. I’m exasperated at this point and he says well you CAN apply online and I say no you can’t. He’s like go to such and such I’m like yeah I’m at that page, it’s just an interactive PDF form, YOU CAN’T ACTUALLY SUBMIT THE FORM, it says when you’re done to print it out and mail it in. He’s like huh, I thought they fixed that, they told us that was fixed and we could tell people they could do it online and I’m like WELL IT ISN’T FIXED SO HOW ABOUT ANOTHER SOLUTION FOR THOSE OF US NOT STOCKED UP LIKE OFFICE MAX AT HOME WITH UNLIMITED ENVELOPES OF ALL SIZES AND LOTS OF POSTAGE FOR MAILING BIG PACKAGES. He says you can go to the nearest office and that there’s a “kiosk” you can drop the application off at.
So after I got up from the nap I had to take since I was up at 4:30am today wondering how to pay back the unemployment office and I was tired all morning I couldn’t function, I drove down to the office and went in and it’s like the 7th circle of hell. Some woman was coming out and talking to me in Spanish and showing me her number, like a number you pull at a deli. 68, her number, and I’m like oh, so we have to go pull a number? Like I have no idea what she’s saying. I go in and fail the metal detector twice because I have my car key in my pocket and keep forgetting, because I’m depressed and exhausted. Finally I go in and I have no clue where to go. There is a big line on one side with these self-service kiosks but I see nowhere to insert any forms there and I already have my application done. I see a bunch of teller windows like in a bank and assume that’s for the people who take a number, and there are like 100 people waiting in chairs and then another window that says “child services” or something so I go over there hoping to talk to someone and ask where the fuck I can drop this thing off at. But nobody is working at the window, you’re supposed to sign in and there are two pages of sign in people in front of me. I don’t want to sign in. I want to drop off the fucking paperwork. The people behind me are impatient as they want to sign in and I walk around the whole room looking for some obvious place to drop this application but there isn’t one, and you can REALLY SEE HOW PEOPLE COMPLETELY FUCKING LOSE IT because I am RIGHT THERE on the edge of my sanity.
I finally go back over to the security station and ask them, and they point out to the front doors. There is a small black mailbox there and THAT’S where you can put applications. A MAILBOX IS NOT A KIOSK. But you have to fill out the envelope on the front to put it in, and they want your case worker’s number. I have no idea what my case worker’s number is and I don’t have a pen. I go back in and the security guards don’t have pens so back out to my car, where I always have a pen, then back in, and I put my name on the envelope, put my application in, sealed it and dropped it in. Probably they’ll throw it out because I don’t have the case worker’s name on it. Probably nobody will do anything about it because that seems to be SOP with the county. When they checked on my Medicaid last week the woman said, “Well it seems like your application is just sitting there but nobody is doing anything about it.” THIS IS MY LIFE. THIS IS MY FUCKING LIFE. Hours and hours of my days are devoted to crap like this.
If I EVER hear one person say something about poor people being fucking lazy I will be going to jail for assault. WE ARE NOT LAZY. WE ARE EXHAUSTED.