I’m from the Government and I’m Here to Help

10 Sep

Today’s entry is dedicated to my friend Shannon, who reminded me what it means to be fearless.

 

As this blog is about reinventing myself, it’s time for the cold, hard truth. Sometimes you have to take a step back, to move forward (heck, sometimes you even have to do a kick-ball-change). So this week, I danced with DES.

I won’t go into the looooonnngg story that got me here but, suffice to say, I encompass all that’s wrong with the economy. Last week my housing counselor (yeh, that’s right) told me to apply for the dreaded food stamps. Really? But I’m a middle class, Jewish girl from the suburbs of Detroit. After much consideration – and a few tears – I finally accepted the fact that well, I need help. And it’s time to call in those favors (read: taxes paid) I’ve done for the government.

You should know that, aside from my current financial problems, I have another big problem. Accepting help. Really, I have counseled drug addicted friends to accept help. I have tried to convince financially challenged family members to accept help. I’ve even gotten the warm-fuzzies quite often from doing charitable work. Yet me? Accept help? I admit it, I have trouble with that. Yeh, I know. It surprised the hell out of me!

So last Friday I called the DES (food stamp people) to be sure I was applying to the correct office. The phone rang. It rang 47 times. Hhhmmmm, do you think they know it’s me? I decided to just download the forms and say a prayer (although if those prayers had worked, I wouldn’t be applying for food stamps now, would I?). I spent 2 hours collecting my financial information and filling out their forms. Are you applying for food stamps? Check. Do you want health assistance? Sure. Electric company discount? Phoenix in the summer – uh-huh! Day care assistance? Well, I do like to color.

Two hours later, forms complete, I faxed. Or tried. And tried, and tried. A busy little fax machine on their end. Must be a lot of people getting good at accepting help. Finally, at about 9:00pm, success! It said it went through but, even if I am able to overcome my resistance to accepting help, I still have some issues with trust. So, on Tuesday, I called.

“Didja get it?” I asked.

“Uh, I don’t know,” he replied.

“Well I faxed it to the Guadalupe location on Friday.”

“Oh, as soon as they send it to us we’ll start processing it.”

“Isn’t this the Guadalupe location I’m calling?”

“Yes, that’s us.”

“But you said as soon as they send it to us we’ll process it.”

“Yes, that’s correct,” he replied.

“So, who are they?” I asked.

“The location that you faxed it to.” (What is this, an Abbott and Costello routine?)

“That’s you”

“OK”

Hhhmmmm, “So what should I do next?” I asked.

“Call back if you don’t hear from us in a week (this guy has a job and I don’t?)

I called today and, you guessed it. I spent the last two hours filling out the same forms that they said they didn’t receive (although she mentioned that someone else had called and told them they faxed their forms the same day I did and they hadn’t been entered into the system either). This time I was actually able to locate a website (conveniently called something other than DES, food stamps or anything remotely similar to Help Me) to apply on-line.

What I discovered? I am not asking for anything for free. Getting these food stamps might just become my new job.

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7 Responses to “I’m from the Government and I’m Here to Help”

  1. Tina Christiansen September 11, 2010 at 3:38 PM #

    Nicely done! Congratulations on deciding to take the leap and post under your own name.

    My friend who was using food stamps while working for Americorps last year found it incredibly challenging, both to sign up and to keep re-qualifying. It seems as if this process is confusing and frustrating to well-educated professionals and college graduates, it must be completely daunting to someone who also is still learning English or lacks computer skills.

    Best of luck as you continue to invent your next career!

    • Carole B. Rosenblat September 11, 2010 at 6:54 PM #

      Thank you Tina. It took a lot of soul searching. I hope those in similar situations will get a giggle and know that they are not alone.

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