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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!"


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


"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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