Here’s the comment I posted at AOL News on the story of a fellow who wrote a book on his experience of unemployment.
I don’t qualify for unemployment. I always seem to note some reason why I can’t be hired in the classified. In the Adult Bookstore and topless “restaurant” that advertises in my newspaper they want someone with cash register as well as hospitality experience. I worked at a college campus for 6 months as part of my student aid. I had to be courteous but I didn’t need to run a cash register. I have done that though but it was back in 1973 which usually discounts you from being experienced in something.
I find unemployment very painful. The social shame is one thing. My mother and father supported me throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. You go to a bar and they ask what do you do for a living and I had no answer. I had graduated community college but that meant nothing to the gritty working men who so eloquently complained about taxes while drinking a glass of beer. It didn’t help my self-concept to admit I had no way to support myself. At one time I claimed I was the expected avatar of the New Age and that helped me “eventually” to get security supplemental income. It was a disability based on mental capacity and when I was up for renewal I decided there was nothing wrong with my mind and I let my SSI lapse. Looking back it seems like that was quite a mistake!!! I got work at the school in ’98 when I went there to study computer programming. By then my father was dead and mom was 81 years old. I couldn’t get that job to stay as a complaint about my phone voice caused my supervisor to call me into her office a couple of times. I e-mailed a “quit” to her and that was that. I’ve never had a job again. It was a part time job, 15 hours a week. Didn’t seem like any big deal and the supervisor joyfully called it a dead end job. On work/study of course you can’t have raises or promotions so in that sense it was a dead end job. I had to agree with her. But it helped keep the load off of mom for the first time in a long time. I guess I wasn’t so money conscious then. I cared more about singing sanskrit mantras than and finding some transcendental experience than I did about money. You see where the government thought they should give me SSI now don’t you?
Mom died in 2007, in January. Still unable to get work despite having a certificate in business data processing now (I couldn’t deal with the programming thing) I had to sell the house mom left me in 2009, September. Now I am completely out of money and on Food Stamps. I do have a credit limit on a credit card that has “helped’ me out, if you will but I am six or seven thousand dollars from it MAXING OUT. I pay $500 a month for rent. 34 miles from the University City of Gainesville, Florida. I have 2 brothers, one a step-brother, who can’t help me. I also have many nephews and a couple of step-nieces in the same position. I have an elderly aunt and uncle, too, on a fixed income.
I like to write too but I think it’s gotten too late for me to write a joy of unemployment book at this point.
I really resent people, who informed of a bill I am paying and seeing that I pay it in full, say, “you must be rich.” I am not by any means rich and I think this is a ruse to have me acting like I am. I believe this impedes my progress in the job market, although it is always said that employers do not hire on the basis of need but on qualifications. I believe a little bit of both are required.
So many people are inclined to hide their worth. Mom was always on the skids though I believe she felt that way because it was unfair that she had to support me. They (the business community, I suppose) penalized her for flaws they found in me. Even in Mental Health sessions it was never offered to me that they wished to unburden mom, it was just that it should be that I worked and they were going to fix that. They never did. The connections that Alachua County Mental Health Clinic offered I only finally took advantage of in 1998.
I’m not sure why I was at ACMHC because my mother got me into it. Nobody said why I was there except that I was having a little difficulty. It was some advantage of her senior citizenship to have me go there for counseling. She didn’t have to pay as far as I know. Somehow I have always done better where mom has had to pay instead of the government. My only example is Santa Fe Community College in 1972. Something about the government paying affects me. I believe there is some suggestion involved there.
People who resent government aid became a big part of my life in 1970 when we moved to Florida, dad’s home state. Dad’s people resented helping hippies, negroes, hispanics, women and what all. In American mythology the idea of one paying one’s own way and becoming successful is romanticized. When you go to college and someone else pays you realize there is something different about you. You are a subclass. My father reveled in that. It allowed him to be vulgar and prejudiced. They were giving everything to the goddam nigger he always said. He was unconcerned that they were giving something to me and he always said it was he who was putting me through school. He gave me an old ’64 Falcon painted Navy khaki to drive to school while I lived with him and, as an afterthought, mom. Why not do all you could with the help of the Fed to make me successful. Why penalize me, as I think he was doing, for smoking the pot that every kid was smoking, wearing the long hair that every kid was wearing and not being home for days as every college kid isn’t? It was more important that he made his argument than that I succeed. Everyone in his family thinks I had enough. When I graduated from Santa Fe Community College I was given a ’68 Biscayne Chevrolet that overheated constantly. That was in 1974. For graduating high school and community college and knowing I was in trouble at the 4 year school having gotten on academic probation before I went to SFCC, you might have thought a new car would be my reward. Some economy model Some talk of that was about but I had to find a job in order to get a car. That’s what mom said. A Maverick was mentioned, a Javelin. This was under Nixon and one of the worst recessions we had ever seen. That was just “tough.” My father smoked Camels. He was a tough guy. The foreman in a railroad yard before he retired in 1969. He was the Master Mechanic in that yard and he extended this role to changing the oil in my car. I was like a baby. I couldn’t take care of my own car which wasn’t in my name but his to save on insurance. I knew how to change tires but I was too paper chase to get under a car and get my hands full of black oil, dispense of the oil and put new oil in. It was my step-brother Bill who taught me to change a tire. I learned little about cars from dad. Dad’s cars were always Falcons since 1963. We had a green ’51 Chevy before that. He bought another Falcon in ’65 and later he bought a Falcon for mom, he boasted, in ’66. He had no kind words for LBJ who had ushered in an era of prosperity that obviously my father was taking advantage of. He voted for Goldwater
I used to get rides and constantly hang around with my step-brother Bill who liked better cars. Bill’s first new car was a red 1965 Chevy Impala convertible. Bill loved convertibles and he like to customize his cars with skirts, antennaes, and sound machines. He dropped out of school to go to work so he could buy a car. His first car was a gray Oldsmobile, the second a ’54 black Mercury convertible, the third a red ’58 Chevy convertible. They were all used. It didn’t seem like it had been too long ago that Bill and I had discussed a Dune Buggy, but moving down south I didn’t get to see too much of my big brother and his influence was not much respected except by teachers and others who offered me counsel back in the early 70’s.
Oh, what was all this about? You must be rich! Yeah, rich, so I don’t need a job. When I talk about a job with these people they ask about work experience. They have no respect for education and are quick to point out to me you can’t get anything with a B.A. these days, knowing I don’t even have a B.A. but only and A.A.
With friends like these ….
I am applying for food stamps. I filled out a form online. It was long and kind of difficult as I had to look up vital information and in some instances I had to save the form until I could get the information from the pertinent institutions in the mail. I had to do this for some stocks I sold 3 years ago.
So, it is a kind of difficult thing but they promise to get back to you within 60 days.
Good God, isn’t that quite a while?
Well, that’s not enough. I don’t rush out and get my mail every day as soon as it gets here. The day that the form arrived telling me of a telephone appointment I slept all day. I had gotten to sleep at 5 or 6 in the morning. So the form said the deadline for my telephone interview was 4:00 P.M. that day, June 18th. Well, it was mailed from Daytona on the 16th.
I called the number anyway, the next morning at 8 ish. Voicemail Full.
I was a little upset. I was a little angry but I decided I would go into Gainesville and find out what this was all about. I was told because of my zip code I had to be interviewed by someone in Daytona Beach. I don’t know how far Daytona Beach is from here, over 100 miles I am sure. Gainesville is just 20 miles and I could see someone face to face there but it couldn’t be done that way.
Tomorrow is Monday. I will have to call again tomorrow.
Aren’t you inspired by the wonderful mercy of our state government?