Filling out forms sucks. Responding to questions that most people deem private information is embarrassing. Then, needing to make copies of your bills, your income, your insurances, proof of or lack of home ownership – auto ownership – medical/life ins., proof of you are who you say you are – your birth certificates and social security cards, OK basically telling your financial life story to a stranger is more than humiliating. Plus, you have to do it in front of other people in front of a cubicle that separates you all from the people who aren’t poor.
Just the run-around to even get the papers you need to fill out the forms to make the copies is enough to keep poor people from asking for help in the first place. Does the government think all of us poor people have copying machines at home? Oh sure, we all have computers at home, too. Now, wait a minute and stop what you are thinking. I never said we aren’t smart enough to use these machines. We just don’t own them. Remember, we’re poor. So, some of us do USE them.
IF we are lucky someone has donated a used computer to us, or we scrimped and saved to buy a cheap one. Maybe we go to the local library to use one to pay our bills online. Anyway, when bills are paid online they are not readily available to be printed or copied. Yes, the financial institution asking us to make all these copies so they can decide whether or not they can give us financial assistance, food stamps, or fuel assistance or whatever whoever could help us with offers to make copies or offer a copying machine for folks to use. Uh huh. I needed to make 40 pages of copies today; 40!
There is always a line at the copying machine on 2nd floor at the Social Services building. Do YOU want to be the person in line who takes up all the time it would take to make 40 copies when most overworked machines make approximately 7 pages per minute not counting how long it takes you to load and unload each page separately by hand? While angry people are complaining and being rude? OK, so go use the library’s copy machine like I did and pay $5.85 to make copies of papers to ask for financial help. Seems wrong to me. Make sure you have correct change or a check at the Library though, because they are NOT helpful if you have a $20 bill. OH, but wait we were talking about printing bills from the computer. Still haven’t done that. At the library that would’ve been and EXTRA .15 cents per page plus waiting around to see IF you could get onto a computer.
So, I went to my bank where they usually charge for everything, right? Low and behold they did NOT charge me for double copies of printouts of my checking account and my son’s saving’s account for the last 3 months!!! I was totally blown away, happily. Even took some of the free popcorn for lunch. So, now I could prove my Social Security Disability income for the last 3 months. I had to show/prove that my Child Support had stopped 4 months ago even though that doesn’t count as income. I also had to show my son’s Soc. Sec. Dis. Income under my disability even though that doesn’t count either since he is a minor. A waste of paper, time, and resources if you ask me.
Now that I’ve run to 4 different buildings it made me wonder how much gas I had to use just to make copies to ask for financial assistance. Two of these buildings are close to each other, but the other two are on separate sides of town. I’ve driven over 10 miles to do this. What about those who don’t have a car or friends with cars? Taking the bus around here is a joke! This has taken me hours of running around today. There is no way I could have done this on a regular day of work. Anyone needing to use the bus or use a bicycle would take all day. And people wonder why poor people don’t have jobs? After all this, and being treated like 2nd class citizens at the places where we go to ask for help, who has time to get out there and look for a job?!
We feel like a huge pile of humiliated exhausted crap after a day like this. Not only did it take hours and make us feel bad, but it took precious money. The $5.85 plus the gas money could have fed my family for at least two days. So, I’ll go home and turn the heat down to make up for the difference. Now, YOU try to live on $844 a month.