I may have to disappear while I figure out how to survive. But I'll be back.
|So Long For Now, But Not Good-Bye
By Marilyn Mackenzie
I sat in my car crying for ten minutes. Why? Because the man in front of me in line bought $100 in lottery tickets. I’ve never purchased lottery tickets myself. Money has always been too precious to throw it away on such a gamble.
What made me cry was that I think I’m a better gamble for that $100. I’m human, after all. And what better resources does our world have than other human beings. Perhaps I’m not capable of paying millions to the one who gambles on me. But I do expect my circumstances to get better. Perhaps I’ll get my book(s) published and make money that way. Perhaps I’ll just be back in the workforce, earning a decent wage and able to pay back $100 with interest.
My son might even be a better gamble. He’s just 19 and has his entire life ahead of him. Perhaps he’ll make a million dollars himself one day. Perhaps not. But he’s certainly a better gamble than a piece of cardboard with some numbers printed on it. Isn’t he?
I just spent the last of all my money on a bit of gas for my car. I will be able to eat, because I’ve been given $139 in food stamps. But I won’t be able to pay my rent this month.
The welfare office has some money available for people in my county. They’ve said that I have to wait until I’ve received an eviction notice before they can help. Then, they’ll weigh my circumstances to see if they can actually help. They may decide against it.
The welfare office probably won’t help me with my rent this month. Their system is set up to help individuals in our county one time – in a lifetime – with rent payments. They require that one be in an unusual situation, which I am. But they also require knowing that this is a one-time situation, something that will change next month. I can’t guarantee that. I can’t claim that. Unless my knee doctor wins against the worker’s compensation system and my benefits are reinstated, or unless that knee doctor goes against what he truly believes and tells the world I am fit to work again, I’ll not be working or collecting any benefits again next month.
My phone is paid for the next month, so I will have access to the world that way, at least while I still have an apartment in which to live. My Internet access bill, though, is due at the first of the month. I’ll not even have the money to pay that. So, although my Writing.com account is upgraded through the end of the year, I probably won't be logging on much in the future. Not unless I’m using the computers at the library.
Someone at church suggested that I sell my car. I could, I guess. Because of how old it is, that would give me enough money to survive about two months. Hopefully by then, the worker’s compensation situation will be cleared up. I’ll either be receiving benefits again and going to physical therapy three times a week, or I’ll be officially released to find work again. Hopefully. But if I sell my car, how will I get to doctor's appointments? How will I seek employment? A good question, isn't it?
Another individual suggested that I sell my computer. I know used computers don’t yield much. If I’m rushed to sell it, I’ll be forced to take it to a pawnshop. That won’t help much at all. And putting an ad in the newspaper won’t be a quick solution. If I’m living in my car, how will I get phone calls from interested parties? I don’t have a cell phone.
Why isn’t my son working, you ask? Because he most likely suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. We haven’t been able to confirm that, since we haven’t had insurance or sufficient income. I’ve researched it on the Internet, though, and the symptoms described are evident in my son. He’s such a bright kid, but he’s afraid of everything. Change frightens and angers him. He exhibits some obsessive/compulsive behaviors, has mild depression and mild paranoia. All of these could mean he suffers from Asperger’s. Yes, we have filed for Social Security disability for him. But it could take two years for the system to decide his fate. He feels badly that he can’t help more. That doesn’t help his depression.
I keep wondering what lessons I’m to learn from having to visit each government agency, only to be told we don’t qualify for help. I wonder if, one day, I should write about my adventures. I probably should.
I now understand my own brother more clearly. He’s an alcoholic who often lives in abandoned cars or in cardboard boxes under a bridge. Trying to get assistance as one whose faculties are normal is discouraging and depressing. It’s easy to see how one who suffers from depression and alcoholism would just give up.
I don’t want your sympathy. I do, though, want you to look differently at individuals you pass on the street who are begging for help. They could have been like me. They could have been productive individuals who lost their jobs to downsizing. They could have been individuals who were hurt on the job and had insurance companies suddenly decide they were fit to work when they were not. They could have had employment agencies tell them they were "over qualified" for positions in the area, and could have been turned down for jobs "beneath their job skills."
For a while, you probably won’t see me around. If I’m writing, it will be back to the old pen and paper method again. I won’t be reviewing much either. Instead, I’ll be trying to resolve my financial situation. I’ll be trying to get my worker’s compensation reinstated or get my doctor to release me back to work. I’ll be seeing employment. I’ll be, still, trying to get some government agencies to help pick up the slack for us. And for the next few days, I’ll probably be going from church to church to try to find someone who will at least help me pay the rent.
Not every poor person has chosen to be poor. It’s a lesson I’ve just recently learned. I didn’t choose this fate. I’ll bounce back, I’m certain. Soon I hope, I’ll either have my worker’s compensation benefits reinstated or be released to work. The way things work, I’ll probably find out a bunch of my submissions to magazines have been accepted too. Once things turn around, they usually do so in a big way. Blessings multiply.
But, in the meantime, I’ll never forget the lessons I’ve learned. Maybe one day, I’ll write a book about those lessons.
For more information about my physical and financial situation:
"I'm One of Them"
"Why DO I Worry?"
"Waiting, Waiting 1-2-3"
"All The Time"
"These Calloused Eyes"