I just want to lay this all out. I’m not sure I heard right. I must have misunderstood, don’t you think?
I drove over two hours round trip for an appointment at the social service office in my new county. Although I am disabled with ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, there was no way the appointment could be held at a more accessible location. The appointment required me to confirm various personal statistics, including the fact of my disability, all paperwork on which I’d been assured had already been forwarded from my old county to my new county.
I brought a huge file of papers including my copies of those confirming my disability.
The worker asked me when I had last worked and what my job title had been.
I answered that I had been working as a grant writer but due to my disabling chronic illness I was able to work less and less until, in June 2009, I could work no more.
She asked me if I could perhaps write grants for a local agency called Disabled Sports.
I reiterated that I could no longer write grants myself, but offered to refer them to my colleagues at the consulting firm for which I formerly worked.
She bristled, stating proudly that Disabled Sports was 100% volunteer run, and would never pay someone to write grants.
Okay, first spot check: she was asking me, although I am too disabled to work as a grant writer to support myself and my children, would I write grants for free? That seems to me to be what she was asking me.
Well, we got to the end of the appointment somehow: the appointment which the paperwork she mailed me had said would take one hour, and which took closer to three. Now was her final question: did I have any questions?
Yes, I would like to know, I told her, if there were any local agencies to assist disabled people with basic necessities. I cited as an example of such an agency, the Center for Independent Living in the county from which I had just come. They help disabled clients find housing, food banks, in-home assistance and such.
She told me no, there were no such agencies here or in the next county.
Can we check again, what’s going on? She wants me to work for free for an agency that would help me go skiing if I were an amputee, but there is no agency to help me find tax preparation assistance or a food bank. Yes, I really would like a food bank; the cupboards are getting close to bare.
She told me I could ask about food at churches, I could ask utility companies for special low rates for the needy, I could ask Social Security for any other services for the disabled that they might provide for my son who is already on SSI. She asked, had I changed my address with Social Security?
Yes, I told her, I had trouble trying to reach them online or by phone but I had sent a letter and was hoping that by now the address change had been processed.
She told me, “Oh, there is a local Social Security office.”
I was surprised to hear this as I thought the nearest one was nowhere close. She told me yes, they had an office in Spacetown. I live over 230 miles from Spacetown. Google says it would take me well over five hours driving one way.
I’ve thought and thought about this. I don’t like to think ill of people. It’s thirty hours later and I’m still pondering this puzzle. She’s a social worker. She must have gone into this career to help people. She must be full of empathy.
She thinks I should work for free, go ask a church for some food, drive all day to ask for help in my home, and then if I should happen to lose a leg maybe her friends will take me skiing.
Tell me I didn’t get that right, please.