(Well, something like that.) I must write this down, to remember this day in my family’s history, so that I can tell my children one day what this was like.
I gather 30 documents (or so), copy them all, bring them, or order, and head out to my county’s Human Services Department, located in Stockton. I’m a little late, but I make it on time to find out that there is a PERFECT spot right in front of the office.
Men, women and children of all ages are spilling out of the door. I walk in, and the first thing I see, is the direction sign all colored in with someone’s marker. Okay. So, no one noticed that this is a mess. I wander around from group “A”, “B”, etc. Finally I ask. There is a fellow around 22, enormous in stature, hat on backward, probably gang affiliated. I look at him and shout out. “Where do I go.” He blows me away with kindness, explaining that first I must go to the kiosk and register for my appointment. I go to “A” area, and a young woman is standing there waiting for her name to be called. I ask her if I’m in the right area. She points me to “B”, where there are no chairs and mass of humanity everywhere.
I probably shouldn’t have worn faux diamond hoops and Calabasas Classic 5k shirt to this appointment. What was I thinking? Finally, Mr. “N” calls me in to the big offices, dominated by cubicle after cubicle. I sit down, and he is very impressed that I have everything. I start at 11:15, I’m done around 2.
I’m listening to the guy in the next cubicle try to explain to his worker that he does not have his own refrigerator, but pays his Mom rent, and she is clearly not believing him. He says he didn’t get the notice to come down and bring papers, and she says, “So, how do you figure out this was your appointment then?” Ooooooo nailed him. He proceeds to be slippery, and she calls him out on EVERYTHING.
My guy was very nice. I thought I was done. I was not done.
Then, I go to Ms. “G”, who is the Family Support person, and my guy didn’t give her my SSN, or my kids’, and she has to chase it all down again. A baby is screaming. Not crying, screaming. Nonstop. The mother is doing nothing. Ms. G is gone, and I start to tear up. This is insane.
Next stop: Medi-Cal. I step into a cubicle of 3 people. The woman shows me the Medi-Cal cards, and I start to cry. I simply cannot do this. My pride is not allowing me to pick a medical program, and she is telling me it’s okay. I know these cards: I used to take them when I was a therapist. I’m on the other side of the table now. She is very sweet, and she assures me that I deserve this, that the state will help me. I want to throw up.
Clearly, I’m not finished. Now, I must get fingerprinted and photo’d for my Food Stamps card. No. Way. I sit down with several families. One girl and her boyfriend, have the screaming baby. They look at him, hand him his empty bottle, he keeps screaming. I say to the boy (17ish?) “Do you think he needs a diaper change?” He nods. I say, “Do you have a diaper?” He nods. He does nothing. The baby continues to scream.
By the time I sit down with the photographer, I am beside myself. I talk. She listens, and SHE starts to cry. I ask her what’s wrong, and she tells me that her husband has just gotten laid off, and it’s either her mortgage, or buy food for her kids, and she says, “Let’s change the subject.” I ask her if she knows about the laws that President Obama has signed lately. She does not. I tell her: You cannot stick your head in the sand. You must call ACORN. I give her the number. We have the same birthday. I give her the “Put on your big girl panties” speech. I tell her about our fabulous governor, and how his office has helped me.
You know that great parking space outside? I have a ticket. It wasn’t a parking space. I was so glad to see my car though, that it was worth it. I got in, and sped away.
I did it. It’s over. I hope to never have to do it again.
(PS-news on the last school district is good; news on the home situation is good)