Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Time Ticks By So Slowly...So Slowly

The thing that's starting to get me about being unemployed is all the time.  The minutes, hours, days, and even weeks start to blur.  There's not enough tv programmed to fill all the time.  Its like being in stasis, but being aware that you're in stasis. 

Of course in our market economy it's almost a deadly sin to be an adult and not be involved in some sort of production.  Heaven forbid I just sit and read for leisure or write just because.  It's the way we're programmed and it's hard a hell to undo the programming. 

If I posted a list of what I did everyday it would be a very short list.  And I'm starting to become not so ashamed of that.  Not ashamed for other people to know it, but for me to admit it to myself.  A very strange thing to fight for independence from yourself.  Wait, that last sentence was inspired by the movie I'm watching, Black Swan lol.  Yeah, 1:39 am and I'm still up watching tv.  Now the routine and I'm starting to like it...again.  :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Myth of the Unemployment Office

So, in a previous life I was a data manager for an agency that also ran the county's unemployment service. For about 6 years I witnessed the process of the urban myth we've all heard about the staff of this gov't agency: 
- inattentive
- inconsiderate
- rude
- (seemingly) purposefully unhelpful
- unnecessarily bureaucratic

Unfortunately, I have to say that for the most part, from what I've seen as a worker and experienced as a client, that's all pretty much true.  I don't even know why they list a phone number seeing as how the specific local office in NWI that I deal with dedicated no staff to regularly answering the phone.  I was so frustrated by the sadistic automated prompts that I actually let loose that angry know the kind of cry that results from that realization that you can't murder-death-kill someone or something the way your heart desires.  :-)

I called the local office, the office downstate in Indianapolis, and back to the local office and managed to get different answers to the same damn few questions!  Once I clarified all the contradictory info I had been given, their answers magically aligned. 

I'll extent to my readers the curtasy I wasn't given and will tell you to prepare yourself for this rollercoaster ride of misinformation:

Initially they tell you there's a 21 day waiting period before you get your benefits card.  A very nice woman told me the exact day the card was sent out (something they weren't supposed to do I later found out from another employee).  After I exposed that I knew that date they came up with well, it takes 7-10 business days to get it.  Ok.  Then I get a letter I'm the mail to confirm some info and I'm told the consequence of this letter is a 2 week waiting period for any further benefits.  That doesn't even really bother me because as of Wednesday I hadn't received anything yet!  And now I find out that this money-in-theory is delayed further??  And then the very next person I talk to says there isn't a delay??? So my thing is, is the frigging Easter Bunny real or not because right now that's a more concrete question than when am I going to get these benefits. 

Then, when all hope was lost, that angels personally flew in my proverbial golden ticket...the benefits card.  I will be able to pay my rent next week...the week after that I will pay my car note...the week after that I will pay my relatives back for their generosity...and the week after that I might, just might have a job.  I think I'll call that the Unemployed Affirmation of Faith.  :-)

Now I can breathe easier.  Knowing, or at least hoping, that every Monday I can count on my payments being automatically loaded to my card helps the stress greatly.  I have two good leads in jobs and great people in my team.  The occasional wave of depression will still hit I'm sure, but that's just part of being another brainwashed member of this market economy.

Oh!  So to end my rant on the experience of dealing with the unemployment office specifically, I'm sure that someone, somewhere has had a wonderfully helpful experience.   I believe this because there are very few absolutes in the universe.  However, I'd really like to meet that person to ask what in the heck they did to make it work for them.  Lol

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Young(ish), Educated, and Unemployed

The knowledge that I'm not alone in this crowded island of the unemployed is extremely cold comfort. As cold as the air conditioning in the McDonald's I've taken refuge in for the next 45 minutes until my next public aid appointment.

Even though I've read about and spoken to people who have been long suffering on this island, there's nothing like the first person view from its coastline. I guess I would be considered one of those 99% Occupiers who have made the socially accepted "right choices": no kids, no live in unmarried partner, college and advanced degree holder. Yet still, I find myself riding from unemployment office appointment to food stamp office appointment chasing down information while throwing cautious glances at my gas gauge just like the other countless folks I've met while on this island. By the way, I've noticed that the higher income the area, the less public transportation services are available. There are no services in my town and the closest public aid office is approximately 10 miles away. My depleting gas tank does not appreciate that.

I suppose you can say I hit rock bottom when I found myself following up on an application I put in at the gas station around the corner from my house in my manicured middle upper income neighborhood. After all, I didn't go to college for a total of 10 years to work at a gas station! At least that's how I'm supposed to think. The reality is that a paying job is better than no job. Kind of like rationalizing that being a phone sex operator is an adventure and not really sex work, per se. Yeah, in my grad school days I came very close to that occupation.

Now, in the midst of applying for 5-15 jobs a day online, I've resigned myself to being in that not-so-new class of highly educated, socially conscious, but still shell shocked unemployed people. But because I look the part, I can stay in the air conditioned confines of any place without buying much or anything at all and will never be shooed away. I can hop in my car and drive home without delay if I can't get an appointment as fast as I'd like. I can verbally assert myself to the manager of an office public service worker calmly, displaying my education level, and will likely receive immediate service without getting escorted out by security for making a scene. So, not everyone on this island is equal...some wait in the shade drinking coconut milk while others roast in the sun fighting the urge to drink the salt water. And here is where the Occupiers failed, I think. They didn't see themselves as the same as the others in the island. There was a sense that they felt they deserved the dream while others didn't, so their suffering was a priority. Maybe that's why they were such easy marginalized...their reach and scope so short. They didn't make themselves relevant to a potential base of thousands by seeing their lot as the same.

So, because I'm conscious of these things, should I deny my own privilege on this island? Reject the same day appointment I got at the food stamp office when others have to wait days? And if not, am I just another opportunist on the island? This is what's running through my mind as I sit staring out the window, checking the status of my pay day loan store application.