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Yesterday I was made to feel worthless, less-than, something to be mocked and spoken down to. It went on until I cried and apologized over and over (at which point I was told that maybe I should go see my doctor for my obvious issues), and when it was done I cried for hours more. And then at my therapy appointment, I cried again.

Because this is how some people treat you when you're poor and you ask for help.

More below with the details.

I have no income, because I am disabled is several ways. I cannot work. The ways that I used to be able to work are now barred to me, because I can't hear in a bunch of Hertz ranges (phone calls? hah! only sometimes. I usually use an IP Relay).

But my town offers General Assistance for these situations. Please note: I am legally homeless (by law, unless you're getting paid, house sitting and couch surfing are one and the same). I have no income, and a doctor's letter certifying my disability. SSI can take a long time.

I called from the parking lot yesterday, because they only have walk-in hours on Mondays "We haven't heard from you in ages, how are you?"  "I really need help.". I explained my situation, including that my phone bill was coming die, and I had no way to pay it and ask how to apply for General Assistance (in our town, about $600 a month). She told me, using a loud, clear voice and explosive consonants (the proper way to speak to someone who is hard of hearing), that my phone was an extravagance, but they could help me get a Safelink phone. Not an answer to my question.

I explained to her that I couldn't hear most people on the phone. That I used an app called IP-Relay that relied on data to make most of my calls (and I do, friends are a bit different, I'm assuming they don't mind being asked to repeat or rephrase until I get it, or to move to text or computer).

She mumbled something. I have no idea what. I asked her to please repeat. She mumbled again. I told her that I couldn't understand her, please repeat (I'm very confused because she was using perfect protocol just a minute ago). She switches to understandable and again gives me the information about Safelink.

I tell her that it is NOT just about my phone. It's also about toiletries, food for my service dog, paper products... She mumbles. I keep on describing the impossible situation I'm in. She mumbles.

Then, clear as a bell, she interupts me and reads off the food banks in town. I explain, "Food is not a problem. I have the maximum SNAP benefit. I need things like conditioner and soap! And my scalp is beginning to bleed because my hair is too long and I have really bad eczema and I only have $3 in the bank, so I can't get it cut!"

Again she listed off the food banks, sounding annoyed.

"Those won't help me!"

Mumble.

"I can't understand you, I'm hard of hearing, you know that."

Mumble.

"Please, how do I apply for GA?"

Long mumble. (I'm starting to cry.)

"Please, I need help, at least until my SSI comes through!"

Lists food banks in clear, easily understandable voice.

"I told you, I have SNAP, I'm food secure. But there are things you need cash to get. And I don't have any!"

In clear voice, "Maybe you need to go see your doctor?"

Me, completely thrown off-stride and flummuxed, "What?"

Clear, "You sound like you need to see your doctor."

"I see him in two weeks. I go every three months, because I'm disabled."

Clear, "Maybe you should try to move it up. Today maybe? It soundl like something is wrong."

At this point I just started sobbing. I asked why she wouldn't help me with GA, tried to explain again why I needed the smart phone, asked why she kept talking so that I couldn't understand (the office has always, to this point, been wonderful), and asking what I was doing wrong.

She didn't answer anything in a way I could hear until she said goodbye, save for when she gave me food bank info. The interview lasted an hour.

I sat and cried the hour that was left until my therapy appointment.

I hate being disabled.

I hate being poor.

Originally posted to Lorelei who now lives in Maine on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 05:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Invisible People.

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