I don’t like the way our society puts people into boxes that can be checked off, such as race, sex, marital status, financial status…..first of all, some of us are of more than one race. That being said, the race term “white” kind of offends me, to be brutally honest. It’s just such a blanket term. I know from researching my family tree, which by the way is driving me quite insane, that I am a good part Native American, but also Irish & Norwegian American. Where is THAT box?
Now, as a single woman on the verge of 40, I don’t enjoy having to check the “single” or “never been married” boxes on forms. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but it just makes me cringe. Not that I have EVER been one of those girls who was desperate to be married, obviously, it’s just something that I don’t find to be relevant in most cases, with some exception.
Lastly & the one I spent the day surrounded by is the classist society we live in. There has been much talk of the “middle class” in the past couple years & how it’s declining. What I have noticed is no mention of the fact that most of those who were once considered “middle class” are now “lower class” or…what would they call us….oh yeah, invisible. I promised myself that I would be brutally honest in this blog. That is not an easy thing to do when pride is involved, but I’m gonna grit my teeth & do it anyway. Times have been VERY tough for me since last year. I have had a very difficult time finding work in both the states I have lived in during this time period, which after finally finding my dream career & beginning to make a very comfortable living, was more painful than the days when I was young & just didn’t care. I fought with the state of Florida for the better part of a year to receive unemployment benefits that paid me per week less than I was making per day while I was working, but I was grateful just to be receiving something.
Suddenly, at the beginning of this year, after being approved for the tier 3 benefit extension, my benefits were discontinued. There was no explanation, no recourse, no more money. All this after I had made the choice to return to Michigan & attend the college of my dreams, having been offered a scholarship. This scholarship was the highest that the school gives, a bit higher than the highest actually, but unfortunately did not cover living expenses, so I thought I could survive off my unemployment benefits for a bit, while I got settled, started in school & began looking for work. One of my first & BIGGEST mistakes was coming back to Detroit & thinking I was going to find a job. Nobody would hire me. I was turned down for a job at Target, which actually REALLY upset me, because I know I’m qualified! I came back to Detroit the second week of January, it is now the second week in April & I have JUST found a job waitressing at a diner 3 weeks ago. I am stretched far beyond my limits, not only financially, but emotionally as well. I have had to withdraw from school for the time being. I will not lose my scholarship, but could not continue to afford the gas money just to get downtown, let alone the small amount of tuition left over after all my scholarship & loan money. It has broken my heart, I have not shared this with any of my family, of course, they may read this blog for all I know, even though I haven’t really made them aware of it.
All of this being said, during these past several months, it is the love & support of my family & friends that has allowed me to survive. Had it not been for them, I don’t honestly know where I would be. I don’t really want to think about it. I bring up the classist society & tell of my story for a couple reasons….one is that it gets the pain & weight off my chest & secondly because I spent the entire day in the local Department of Human Services office, begging for food & medical assistance along side what had to be, throughout the entire day, hundreds of people. I cried sitting in that waiting area several times & not just because I’m a big baby who cries easily, which I am & do, whatever. Some of the stories I heard as I was sitting there just tore at my heart. I mean, if you knew me, you’d know that I could never sit in a room filled with people, any people & not talk to most of them. It’s just who I am. Sitting here, typing this, I’m starting to cry a bit again, thinking of those crying babies, whose mothers fought as hard as they could to hide their own tears & feelings of desperation to be strong for their children. I think of the people who were there for emergency state assistance & the amazing number of them who were turned away because their situation wasn’t “bad” enough to be considered. These were people with shut off notices, eviction notices…..yet somehow, that wasn’t bad enough. I think of the woman who was trying to quit smoking because she has congestive heart failure & sat in that office from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm. There are so many stories from my day, people yelling at the workers, the workers yelling back, people crying, begging for help, any sort of help, to survive & SO many of them being turned away.
After all this, I do find myself to be in a bit of an odd mood. I don’t really know how to feel. While I am grateful that I was approved for food assistance & can eat more regularly now, I am also keeping my fingers crossed for medical coverage, which I desperately need. But, at the same time, I feel kind of guilty. I feel guilty because my situation is not as bad as so many others out there. I feel guilty because I am eating on the taxpayers dime. I feel guilty because I AM able to work. I feel sad. I feel sad for all the children that are brought into this world by parents without the means to care for them without government help. I feel sad for all those who have worked so hard for so many years, only to find themselves sitting in a government office, applying for assistance because their jobs have been eliminated. I am sad for every person who is denied help.
I don’t know what the solution to this problem our country & world finds itself in. All I know is that it hurts to fall & have to fight your way back up.