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Posted by Cindi on September 23, 2004 at 12:45:15 from (126.96.36.199):
I am here to share with you the details of the hardest 560.00 I have ever earned in my life and that ain't no lie.
Two weeks ago, it was announced that victims of Hurricane Charley were eligible for emergency assistance via a one time receipt of food stamps. The amount received varied, depending on the number of people in the household, and was designed to help offset some of the cost of post-hurricane living. Gas, generators, ice, cold storage foods, the loss of freezer foods, the purchase of mountains of charcoal, etc.
I was not going to take advantage of this offer.
Eventually I began to question that position. I've been paying taxes for years, I had suffered a dabilitating financial setback, that's what the funds were for, and last but not least it appeared that we were the only family in the county that did not apply for the emergency aid. It simply did not make sense to turn my nose up at it.
So, Saturday morning I went down and applied. I arrived at 8:15 a.m. After standing in line in the direct sunlight for three hours, word trickled back through the throng of waiting people that the 'machine' (I have no idea which one) was broken down. I assumed that this meant, 'sorry 'bout your luck'. So I took myself home.
On Sunday I was informed that my actions were hasty. That I could have stayed in line and still applied anyway, and still recieved the assistance.
Monday morning at 8:15, I carried myself back down to the FS Depot and proceeded to stand in line for another three hours...in the rain. Upon being approved at eleven-thirty, I was informed that yes, I did qualify based on our losses, for $560.00. BUT! I would have to come back between two and six p.m. and stand in line again to receive the little plastic card that contained the funds. Oookay.
At two-thirty I was standing in line again, in the direct humidity-laden sunshine. Until four- thirty, when it began to POUR. Despite being pelted with drops the size of seedless grapes, we were able to laugh about the fact that Ivan and Jeanne had somehow gotten together in the atmosphere and spawned a little baby tropical wave that was proceeding to tinkle all over us.
At roughly four-forty five, two heavily armed policemen came out and announced to us that due to the fact that there were so many people, and due to the fact that the cut off was seven o'clock, that every body beyond THIS point would have to go home and come back between noon and five on Wednesday. Do I have to tell you that I was beyond THAT point? Or did you see that coming?
I had to work Wednesday, so I went back when I got off, at three-thirty, in the pouring rain. I was informed upon arrival that since there were so many people and since the cut off was five o'clock that I didn't even need to bother to get in line. Come back tomorrow between noon and five. SEE ya!
I said ...
"Don't you mean noon and THREE? I mean if you're not going to take anyone after three, why are you telling me to come back again between noon and FIVE? Do you WANT TO SEE ME FAIL?"
The police officer fiddled with his pistol menacingly and I scooted out of there.
By now this thing had become personal. I was going to get that dammed card or die trying, and with lightning cracking nearby, the latter was a very real possibility, while the former seemed less and less likely.
I did not have to work today so I showed up at ELEVEN o'clock (wink). The line was almost non-existant. I waited a mere hour in the balmy morning sun, chit-chatting with other 'waiters' and keeping a positive outlook even though there was a nasty rumor circulating that at noon, all the administrators of the FS program were going to break for lunch leaving us standing out there waiting until they came back to work at one o'clock.
That rumor never became fact, and at twelve thirty when a man looked at me & shouted "next!" I thought I was going to pass out from the emotional strain.
I made my way inside the building (which was a mobile home with six offices)
I was there, the hard part was over.
The woman behind the desk proceeded to process my card and I swear by all that's holy, the power went off. There were muttered curse words from all the offices throughout the building. Just as suddenly it came back on. Then went off again. Our service is still not operating at a hundred percent yet and the power is a bit unpredictable.
It came back on again and when the computer booted back up, the machine would not accept the processor's password. Somehow she had managed to suspend herself from the main computer, so I waited fifteen minutes while she contacted her home office to get a new password.
As she was entering the new password, the power went off again. I said the f word. I thought I said it in my head. Based on the wry grin on the processor's face, I must have said it out loud. I felt myself blush while she giggled at me.
Ten or fifteen minutes later the power came on and stayed on long enough for her to do the processing. At which point she handed me a card and a slip of paper with a pin number on it.
"There is one hundred and forty-four dollars on this card. It may or may not work, but don't even try to use it for twenty-four hours, and when you do, buy something small first to make SURE it works."
"The rest of the funds will be sent to you in the form of another card, in five days to a week. You will get a new pin number. Follow the same procedure, wait twenty-four hours, it also, may or may not work, if you have trouble with either of the cards, there is a phone number to call on the back of the card."
I left the building trying to plan how to spend the funds that I might have and planning what to do with the additional funds that I might get, and as I was leaving the power went off again. I was beyond caring by that point, but I sure felt for the people that were still standing outside in the sun. It appeared they were in for a long haul.
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