dole. dole pineapple. i’m not talking about that. i’m talking about being “on the dole,” a term used for being on welfare, talking money from the state. but let me get around to some other fruits while we’re going with the whole fruity metaphor.
apple. i applied for a job with them. a friend knows someone there; i sent my resume in and went to an “invite-only” hiring seminar. it was good. i got excited. i already love apple products and the whole atmosphere of the place. it seemed from the vibe backstage that it wasn’t an act. people loved their jobs; they stayed, they moved up in the company. i got a second interview with the store manager at the new store in chicago. in my excitement, i made the mistake that i usually steer *very* clear of — i told people about the process. they gave me good feedback. over and over again, i heard “it’s really hard to get an interview there.” “it’s REALLY hard to get a second interview there.” i got even more excited. it was only for a part-time position, but i didn’t really care. if i could just get a job there, i knew i could prove myself to be a stellar employee.
i am beginning to think that my suspicions that i am the worst interviewee in the world are just not a lie. i don’t know what i do or say or project. i have no idea. but obviously, even when i manage to pull an interview or even a second interview, i manage to cut myself from the running. and in this day and age, it’s just no good. there’s *way* too many other people standing at your back, waiting for the job you couldn’t seem to get. except this time … i got excited. i told people. for fuck’s sake.
my parents, who have a very vested interest in whether or not i have a job (always worried, always asking), happened to call right on the day i found out. to appease them, i had told them about this process. normally, i don’t really tell them about interviews and such, because of this very dilemma. not good to get their hopes up. not good to get *anyone’s* hopes up, really. but i really thought i stood a chance, and i wanted to also get them prepared for a potential lack of my presence for holiday stuff. so, at least that guilt/shame/embarrassment/disappointment is out of the way.
but now … all the other people. my roommate, my other friend/s who are really into apple and who were excited for me, the people who i specifically chatted about this opportunity with, even the people that this came up in casual conversation with (“i heard it’s really hard to get an interview there!”); these people will all eventually ask about this again. and i will have to tell them that no, i didn’t get the job. and if they ask anything more, well, i literally don’t know anything more than that. i don’t know why i didn’t get the job. the email i got was short and vague and the same as any other rejection email. i don’t know why. i really don’t know.
so, the dole. last year, when i got laid off, i applied for food stamps. i’d been on them before when i didn’t make enough money to really cover things the way i’d like. and i knew that if i was going to be on unemployment, having some extra money just to buy food with would be really good. i filled out the application, and i turned up at 8 am like they asked. the man said i was missing something and told me i could fax it to him. i went back to my old office, and faxed it straightaway. a few weeks went by and i didn’t hear anything. i called him and he said he didn’t receive my fax. a few weeks went by and it turns out they’d closed my claim.
i gathered up all my information again, trekked down to the office (even though there was an office a few blocks from my house, they didn’t deal with my zip code), and made it there with 15 minutes to spare in the day. people were already checked out and leaving, but i didn’t care. we never closed the bookstore 15 minutes early, so if the office is open until 5 pm, it’s open until 5 pm. i don’t really give a rat’s ass.
i asked the woman behind the counter if i could give my paperwork directly to my caseworker. she told me i could put it in the bin over on the side of the office. i walked over there and the sign next to the bin said that if you put your stuff in there, it would be treated as if you had actually put your stuff in a mailbox and mailed it. i walked back over to the woman and told her exactly what the sign said, and that i’d like to personally hand-deliver this paperwork to someone. she said that the caseworkers came right to the bin and took stuff out of there. it seemed logical that they could just walk over to this cardboard box and pick stuff out of there — how hard could that be? but then why did they have this sign EXPLICITLY saying if i put something in there it would be treated as if i had put it in a U.S. mailbox?
at this point, i gave up. i put the paperwork in this cardboard box, and i left. what else was there to do? get in a shouting match with the woman? sit down in a chair until i was escorted out of the building? i left my paperwork there, never to hear from anyone again. and honestly, i gave up. for the past year, i have not had any food stamps. i have had food, but i will say that if i had had food assistance, i could have maybe done other things with my money (paid off some debt) that i ended up buying groceries with. it just would have been nice, especially since i definitely qualify.
today, i decided to go back to the office near my old place and see if maybe i fit into that office now that i had moved addresses. i told the lady my zip code, and she gave me an application and told me that no, this wasn’t my office. my office was now in skokie. skokie. my heart fell into my stomach. so, i’d fill out this application, they’d send me a letter telling me to show up at 8 am in skokie. a suburb right outside of chicago (but further than evanston even). but a suburb. so, i have no money and no car, and i’m supposed to get to skokie?
how the fuck do people do this? how the fuck do people who don’t read english do this? i tried to reason with her a little bit, but she wasn’t very nice and was just like … look. i told you it goes by zip code. end. of. story. okay. i dejectedly and half-heartedly wished her a good weekend and went out the door. oh, did i mention the security guard sitting at the table when i walked in asked to check my bag before i even went in? i have no idea why. maybe because people lose their minds when they get told to go to skokie.
i walked out and just felt awful. feel (?) awful. as if it’s not bad enough to need to apply for food stamps and be without a job for a year and not get the job you really wanted, but then to feel like you can’t even get the help you need because it’s getting further and further out of your reach. like it’s being made hard on purpose, or something. i have a friend who liked to remind us that “the universe was not created to fuck you over.” so, i have to hold on to that thought. but i walked out of there, and called my sponsor and was telling her what happened on a voicemail, and just cried. i felt so stupid and so sad and so small.
like seriously? oh, and even my unemployment didn’t come through today because i certified on wednesday, which was a national holiday, so the banks were closed and they couldn’t put anything through that day, so i’ll get my benefits either tomorrow or monday. yep. just bound by other people’s rules and regulations. i feel stupid and helpless. it’s just i’m running out of things to do. i guess i need to take anything that comes my way — but i’m already cleaning people’s houses when i can get the work. it’s not like i’m saying that things are beneath me. i’m cleaning toilets and mopping floors and doing laundry. that’s got to count for something, right? i’m not turning my nose up at these things. i take the work and i’m happy to do it, in fact.
i don’t mean to come off sounding like i’m whining. it’s just that i look around at all these politicians and pundits and people preaching personal ideologies and i just don’t understand what the hell would be so wrong with making sure everyone’s got health insurance and making sure everyone’s got enough to live and making sure that everyone is fundamentally okay. what the fuck would be so wrong with that? how does that come down to some sort of intrinsic evil?
and i know for a FACT that jesus christ wanted all of those things for people. he wanted to see the sick tended to. he wanted children to be well cared for. he wanted those who were on the outskirts of society brought in and loved. he wanted to feed those who were hungry. he wanted to teach those who didn’t understand. he wanted us to be kind and loving. he wanted us to not care so much for money, but to care for one another. he wanted us to remember, that whatever we did for the least of the creatures here on earth, that is what we did for him. that’s what he wanted. he didn’t want us to stand by and yell “get a job and make yourself well.”
i don’t know. i’m tired and out of sorts tonight. but i know what i know. and being on the dole doesn’t mean you get thrown out with the trash.