Writers aren't exactly people, they're a lot of people trying to be one person. F.Scott Fitzgerald

Thursday, February 3, 2011


       Have you or a loved one ever got caught in the government loop called, Health and Human Services? The name evokes a vision of smiling faces waiting for the phone to ring so they can assist the distraught caller to obtain whatever help they need.Think so? Well you would be WRONG!first you have to awade through and pick the right choice on the menu.if you get lucky you reach the right place or get to speak to someone who directs you to the right menu choice.
    Now I am not saying the person who finally answers the phone after a subtantial wait isn't smiling. However;I suspect the smile would more closely resemble the the maniacal grin of a creature from the astounding, maniacal mind of Stephen King in a really bad mood.
      Recently I suffered through a really hard time.I won't go into the details,suffice it to say I found myself in need of help.Friends came through for me,but I needed more help than I expected them to give and I decide to bite the bullet and go where I had never gone before.  THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. Not to be confused with the Social Services office,the Wellfare office,Public Assistance, or a host of other misnomers.
     After a week of calling phone numbers that no longer worked, visiting offices that were no longer there an leaving my call back number,I talked to Rosalee.She directed me to the on-line site to fill out for emergency assistance or assistance that was needed but not on an emergency level.
She was very helpful even if she didn't get my reference to the late Chris Farley's skit about," Sleeping In A Van,Down By the River".Sorry,it was a Saturday Night Live skit,when SNL was still relatively funny.
   Anyhow, I thanked her and headed for the online application.
OMG! The questions were not designed for anyone who is essentially homeless and living with gracious friends.I answered questions,that didn't pertain to my situation at all,some that almost did, and some that were obviously designed to ferret out anyone trying to qualify under false pretensions.
     Someone,somewhere, now knows, all of my personal info,including how much money is in my account,if I have a paid up burial plot,my bank info, and various other bits and pieces of info that has no bearing on my situation at all.I am retired,I don't have a "Real Job"( I am an unpublished writer so that doesn't count) and  I live on my Social security checks.I even had to tell them how much money I had given away in the past few years to help family members. I hit send and I was done.
    How do people survive living within the system.Maybe they just give up and wander off never to be heard from again. The ones who reach the Holy Grail of Benefits,what do they know that the rest of us don't?
I'm not done yet,I now await THE CAll.Then I have to drive to the office,wherever that is, and have an interview. SOMEONE,will let me know the time, place and information to bring with me.What more could they want to know? My blood type,any birthmarks,etc.? I suppose I will find out when and if the Call comes.
if I'm never heard from again,someone tell the authorities where I was going and why.
  Stay tuned for the next installment of the Quest for Benefits or Survival of the System!If I actually survive to write another day.

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