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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Department of Stupidity, Hopelessness and Sadism (DSHS)

It is blazingly obvious that no one is supposed to have food stamps. The government never intended for this program to actually feed anyone. It is simply there so that the bleeding hearts can sleep soundly at night and so that people like me can rip their eyes out of their sockets in a tizzy of frustration.

I began my quest for food about a month ago, knowing that the .4 teaching contract I have would not be quite enough. It is barely enough to survive. I can just eek out every bill, now that I’ve put my student loans into forbearance and reduced my calling plan to the absolute minimum possible. After every bill is paid, I am left with about $100 a month. That’s $100 for gas, food, and other necessary consumables like toilet paper. I could stop wiping my butt, but then they’d fire me from the meager job I’ve got, so that’s not the best choice.

Instead of having a smelly ass, I thought, “Hey! I’ve paid into the system for over ten years as a working individual, perhaps the system can help me out in return during these hard times by assisting me with the purchase of foodstuffs.” With this novel idea in mind, I went about trying to apply for food benefits.
Like all good services, I easily found the website to apply for food benefits online. I would call them food stamps, but that’s apparently old school and not PC, so I have to say food benefits instead. Don’t you feel better? I know I do.

After applying online, I was told that the Department of Social and Health Services would be in contact with me soon about my application and the status of my benefits. Doesnt’ that seem nice? The “status of my benefits” part makes me instantly think, “Word! I’ve got some benefits!” Wrong!

I got a letter in the mail about two weeks later. The letter said the following:
“We have received your application.
Your application is being processed.
We selected these statements from a drop down list and, really, the computer is the one communicating with you, not us.
Someone will contact you between the following dates: September 2010 and September 2987.
Please be available by phone during the hours of: 8 AM to 5 PM every fucking day you are alive.
We will call you at the following number.
If we do not, please call this 800 number and wait on hold for hours for no reason, just so we can fuck with you.”
It was such a delight to know that my needs were being carefully considered somewhere by a real person and that, soon, I would be able to talk with someone regarding any questions I might have about the program or how to access my benefits. Phew! Good to know the government I had no faith in could come through in a time of need!

Because I am a dumbass who insists on actually going to work for the few hours I am able to be employed and because I do what I am supposed to do at work, teach children how to think and do things, I missed the call from the DSHS office. They left me a very nice message which told me to call the 800 number and asked me kindly to fuck off.

I called the number the first time and waited on hold for 30 minutes. I decided that they were probably having a busy day and that I should call back another day. I called back the next day a little earlier in the day, thinking I’d be one of the few people who weren’t busy at 10:30 on a weekday, and I waited on hold for literally an hour. As previously, I hung up. Fed up, I called a friend who had food benefits and asked her what I was supposed to do. She said that, sometimes, if she called exactly at 8 AM when they opened, she might only have to wait on hold for half an hour.

What the fuck?

So, I decided I’d just call back again at 10:30, the earliest possible time I can call on a weekday. I decided also to have something else to do while I waited so that I could wait as long as it took and not give up. I don’t even want to tell you how long I was on hold that time. And, seriously, WHY? Why the crap would you have an 800 number that no one could actually use? Where were the people who were supposed to be answering the phones? Better yet, if you don’t have enough worker bees, why don’t you hire me to buzz around so that I won’t even need your ass-tastic food benefits? Douchebags.

I was done waiting on the phone. I decided that I would find the nearest office and that I would go and talk to someone in person. This decision cost me some innocence and olfactory receptors and panned out not at all. Why had I even expected it to?

Showing up to the crowded, confusingly organized office, I checked in at the touch screen. I then waited amongst screaming children, swearing crack addicts, and various other nefarious citizens, trying to eat my lunch in peace for at least another hour. After finally being called back to the interview cubbies, I was asked, and I’m not exaggerating, the exact same questions I had been asked on the online application in the same exact order.

Was this a joke?

NO! Of course not! What else would be the point of the interview, they explained, if not to confirm that the information you entered was correct? But, wasn’t that what my BRAIN was for? No matter, at least I had got the interview done. So, what assistance could I expect, finally, at the end of this twisted and foggy path? $16 a month.

Oh good, I can buy two pizzas. That should do it.

Turns out I make $100 too much per month to get the $250 a month benefit. How do you jump from $250 in benefit to $16? What sadistic crap face makes this shit up? Then they informed me that, if I made even $50 more a month in any given month, my benefits would be canceled and I would have to re-apply if and when I dropped back down into a serviceable income bracket.

Did I mention I am living below the official, federal poverty limit? How can I not qualify for food assistance when I am living in poverty?

Most importantly though, and this is the real zinger folks, this is the part that really makes me want to explode in bits and pieces at the sight of the touch screen I logged in at, most importantly, they could’ve just told me I didn’t qualify at the point when I initially filled out the application online. What would have been so hard about saying, “Based on the values you’ve entered in the above fields, we will likely give you some feces in a paper bag instead of food.”?

I can’t imagine what this would’ve been like if I were illiterate, blind, deaf, a speaker of another language, or if I had any sort of mental disability or handicap, no phone, or no car and, even better, no internet with which to fill out a pointless application for a pointless program.
Way to go USA! Woooohoooo! Glad to be here, teaching our young for future generations to thrive in freedom, glory, and health or, well, at least the glory part. Hope I don’t die of starvation next month!



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