Update: I am hampered by bureaucratic fuckery.
The good news is: the unemployment agency actually seems to offer some promising leads and programs.
The bad news is: I don’t know if I qualify for it.
A significant part of its funding comes from the State government. Consequently, it has to keep meticulous records of the clients it services, and turn those records over to the state.
After two hours of talking with them and filling out eleven pieces of paperwork, I was told that I did not qualify because I quit my last straight jobs at the college and tutoring center. Apparently quitting your job is not allowed if you expect to get any employment help from the state, even if it’s through a 3rd-party organization. Apparently, you have to be fired or laid off.
“Are you serious?” I asked. “Because you receive state funds, I’m not allowed to utilize your program because I quit my jobs? I didn’t do anything wrong! It’s not like I walked out and left em hanging! I fulfilled the hours in my contract and gave advanced notice! But if I got fired for incompetency, I could stay here?”
My case manager shrugged sheepishly and said he was sorry, but he didn’t make the rules.
“Why couldn’t you tell me this on the phone and save us both the time, not to mention all these dead trees from the wasted paper?!” I asked.
“Well, we can’t know you’re not qualified until we really get the details of your case.”
I knew that was bullshit. They wanted me to come in and fill out the paperwork so that they could maximize the number of potential clients who wanted to use their service in their annual reports to the state. It helped secure their grants and funding.
“Hey!” he brightened. “There is a loophole! Have you received unemployment benefits any time in the last five years? Any time?”
“No! I was in school and then I was self-employed!”
“Oh.” He slumped.
“You’re telling me that I’d be eligible if I had unemployment benefits?”
“Yeah. The problem is, if you quit your job voluntarily, the government says you’re basically on your own. You brought in on yourself.”
“But if I was fired and took benefits I’m deserving? I could apply for welfare but not employment programs?”
He perked up again: “Actually, that’s another loophole! If you apply for welfare and get into the (workfare) program, you could do it here! I know someone in the welfare office! Do you have any dependent children? Do you get food assistance?”
“No! I live with my mother!”
“Does she work? How much money does she make?”
“I don’t know! She’s retired!”
“Well, I hope that she doesn’t make too much, or else you won’t be eligible.”
“No offense, sir, but do you know what this is like? It feels like I’m in a Monty Python skit about bad bureaucracy. I can’t get into an employment program because I don’t have benefits which I never applied for, but apparently I am still the “undeserving” unemployed. This is a little crazy.”
He gave me the business card of a social worker in the welfare office: “Go apply for cash assistance. She will try to dissuade you. They don’t want people signing up.”
“Oh, I know how it is,” I said, thinking that I wrote the book on poverty-reduction legislation since welfare reform. Or a few papers, at least.
“She’ll try to send you back here. We’ll do it so that she manages your case, but you still get to come here and use our service. If we can pull it off. It’ll take some bureaucratic wrangling.”
So this week I have to make an appointment with this social worker at the welfare office for the express purpose of applying for cash assistance, being rejected, and then being rerouted back to the employment agency I was just at this morning.
* * *
This morning I have an appointment with a small employment agency that supposedly specializes in helping people with advanced college degrees find jobs outside of academia. I side-eyed it pretty hard and tried to learn where it was getting its funding, because unless you’re in medicine or law or at the local colleges the only other major industries around here that really need people with +Master’s degrees are the Air Force, PR agencies, and an awful lab company that experiments on animals. No offense, but I would rather sweep floors or suck dick for money than update the charts of hundreds of white rats every day and then kill them with CO2. The Surgeon had to do that in med school and it made a very negative impression on it, and he is not what I would call a sensitive human being.
This morning I was awoken by my mother’s little dog playing with her squeaky toy. I really want to make an audio recording of the squeak toy so that all of my 8 readers can share in the fun. The dog considers the squeak toy to be the pinnacle of entertainment and will squeak it until someone takes it away from her. You usually have to give her a food treat to make her drop it, too, because otherwise she runs away from you and can’t be caught. I know. I have tried. In my PJs, I have tried. The dog just runs under the couch and stares at you, squeaking even more, tail wagging triumphantly.
I ironed one of my nice skirts and a blouse. I will be dressed up like I am going to work, except that I will not actually be going to work. This is very demoralizing.
I do have something exciting planned for tomorrow afternoon, however!
Margo has…a date.
Of sorts. The guy doesn’t know it yet.
A young Mormon fellow named “Elder Travis.” I met him yesterday evening when he knocked on my door with a friend to inquire about my relationship with God.
Mormons irritate the hell out of me and my default response is to tell them that I’m Catholic (it seems like kinder let-down than telling them the truth), wish them well, and then shut the door in their faces. The Mormon missionaries and young and strong and I don’t feel badly for them (there was an old Jehova’s Witness who making the rounds one day when it was 103* outside. He was wearing a wool suit and looked miserable, so I gave him a bottle of water. It was a nice thing to do, but it just encouraged him and he started sending church ladies over).
Anyway, the Mormons rang last night.
“Hi, Guys. How can I help you?” I asked, even though I was pretty sure I already knew. They’d parked their bikes in the driveway and they were wearing their little Mormon uniforms: black pants, supernerd short-sleeved perma-creased synthetic-material white buttondowns, black neckties, little name-plates. I gave them an in instead of immediately offering the rejection because I supposed it was possible that they needed to ask directions or use the phone to call someone.
“Hello, Miss. How are you today?”
“Fine, thanks. Do you need something?” I wasn’t even really looking at them. I was waiting for the opportunity to close the door. Once I saw that they were missionaries, I stopped paying attention. Mitt Romney himself could have been standing in front of me, and I wouldn’t have see him.
“Do you go to church around here?” the one closest to me asked.
It was then that my mother’s little dog squirmed past my leg and ran out onto the patio. She began to sniff their shoes excitedly, tail wagging. Fortunately, there was no squeaky.
I called the dog and told her to come in. She did not listen to me. This dog does not obey anyone but my mother.
I apologized to the guys and said that she was friendly (she is a sweet dog, and somewhat well-behaved for all her antics–she wasn’t jumping on them or anything) and stepped out to get her.
Well, she wasn’t having any of that. She decided it was time to play RUN AWAY.
The Mormons, no fools they, knew an opportunity to ingratiate themselves when they saw it, and started chasing the little dog around the lawn for me. For a cat-sized creature with little stumpy weasel legs, she gets around very fast, and led the boys on a merry chase around the rose bushes. It was quite a sight to see. The old Pakistani lady across the street came out of her house to watch (that chick does neighborhood surveillance like the Stasi in 1982, man. Life in suburbia. The East Village, it’s not–I lived three years in the same apartment and didn’t know the names of a single neighbor).
The dog ran back past me to retrieve one of her tennis balls, and I slammed the screen on her.
Slamming the door on the Mormons, though, was going to be a trick. They’d just chased my dog. I did not want to be a jerk.
“Sorry about that,” I said. I offered them bottles of water. I decided that I’d give em water and then pretend that I had to make an important phone call and close the door.
I gave them the water while they were tucking their shirts back in. That was when I actually took a good look at the bigger one closest to me.
Boy, maybe I’ve been without the real thing for too long or maybe the heat and boredom around here has baked my brain, and I think Mormons are probably the least attractive quasi-Christian group I can think of, but I’m telling you: this kid was beautiful. BEAUTIFUL! He looked like he fell out of an Ambercromie ad! And I don’t even like young guys!
I squinted at his name tag. “Elder Travis? ‘Elder’ to who? How old is your congregation, 12?”
They glanced at each other and then confirmed that they were, in fact, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Long story short (I have to get ready to go to the job agency): I invited them both over tomorrow to discuss my relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s how the Mormons do it, you know: they use Jesus to get in the door, like they’re regular Christians or something. I’ll have to park em in the den where they can’t see the Virgin Mary on the wall.
I have a new Summer recreation project.
Update: I am hampered by bureaucratic fuckery.