Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Oh I get it now.
Let me make sure I have this straight, okay?
So I come to you asking for help, which you say you are duty-bound to give, just as long as I answer this lengthy questionnaire and look you in the eyes when I tell you everything I say is true. I do this. You tell me to wait a couple of weeks before you render a decision on my worthiness to receive your help.
Three weeks go by. I receive a letter telling me that I am deemed eligible for assistance.
The next week you tell me, wait a second, there’s this one question that I answered the first time that means in a couple more weeks I’ll need to talk to somebody else to determine if I am really eligible for assistance.
A couple of weeks go by and I speak to this other person. She asks me a lot of questions, some of which were asked and answered truthfully the first time. She tells me to wait a few weeks before they finally and we-swear-it’s-for-real-this-time approve of assisting you.
This time passes. I receive a letter addressed to me telling me that I am eligible for assistance. I am told that the money will be placed on a special debit card, despite my initial insistence that it be done direct-deposit. I send in another form. The debit card arrives with a balance on it anyway. I shrug my shoulders and make the most of the situation…at least I’m receiving help.
That’s right so far? Yes? Then I’ll continue.
So next, you ask that I call your automated phone system every two weeks to verify that I’m still seeking stable employment, and that I still need your help. I do this. You ask me to let you know if I’m making money from any of my own effort. I tell you that I am and what the amounts are, but I make clear that these efforts are not reliable, and I still need help.
You inform me that you are no longer helping me. There is something that doesn’t make sense to you, and so your help is withdrawn, unless you call a certain phone number and speak to another person.
I call this number. Nobody ever answers. The voice mail is full. Nobody checks the mailbox and nobody calls me back.
I go down to your offices in person. I wait in line as the sun is rising and the temperatures are dropping into the mid-20s. I walk into your offices as soon as they open and am told to fill out the paperwork in the far-left stack. I do this. I wait nearly an hour in an uncomfortable plastic chair, watching the mass of humanity just like me, pinballed around in this madhouse environment, a building so meticulously organized that it has gone all the way through organization and ended up right back at inscrutable chaos, an institution that wears a plain brown bag over its festering face of rotted terrible meat and then proceeds to walk into the cocktail party expecting to be revered for its magnificent beauty.
I hand in the first stack of paperwork. I am told to fill out a second stack of paperwork. I do this. You tell me that everything should be fine now.
I go home and I call the automated system, and am told that your assistance is once again extended to me. You remind me to call again in two weeks to verify my continued need for your assistance.
I do that today.
I follow the instructions you gave me after I visited your offices.
At the end of the phone call you tell me that your assistance has been revoked. Please call the number we asked you to call last time. The one that nobody answers. Please call that number.
And the growl from my throat is guttural, barbaric. Only a timely intervention from my more practical demons keeps me from crushing the cellphone into a very fine powder.
That’s the way that works? Did I get that right, federal government?
So, yes. I get it. I get it now.
This is how you’ll do it.
You do that to me and you do that to a random sampling of the thousands of us currently facing the end of the Bush administration in a whirlpool of uncertainty and despair. You punish us for answering questions honestly or for failing to press the correct buttons at the correct time in your byzantine, absurd phone system with its flat, game-show announcer flow chart tour guide. And we get fed up. We give up. Frustrated and upset, we finally give up playing your vicious little mind games, succumb to our hate and spite, and stop asking you for the assistance that you said you were too happy to give us in the first place.
That’s how you find some of the money that you’re going to continue sinking into your stupid war, that you’re going to throw at failed, pompous bank executives so they can keep their precious spa retreats and undeserved bonuses.
Right? Surely that’s the reason. I’d hate to think that this was happening just because you have no interest in making yourself functional.