Saturday, April 08, 2006

No Social Security, unemployment benefits or chocolate: When your safety nets are all gone

I just got a letter in the mail. "Your request for unemployment benefits has been denied." When your bank account is anemic, your rent is due and you can't find a job, these are words that you do NOT want to hear.

I just got a letter in the mail. "Social Security has determined that we owe you nothing but you owe us $861." I didn't particularly want to hear that one either.

I just got a letter in the mail. "Your medical insurance has just lapsed." Could that skin discoloration on my face possibly be cancerous? Lack of healthcare could definitely be problematic. I don't even want to think about that one.

My safety net is getting smaller and smaller.

"Stop whining and expecting the government to support you," said my right-wing friend. "Go out and get a job like the rest of us." That's easy for him to say. Our government is supporting him in a manner I would LOVE to become accustomed to. He works for Halliburton, who gets all its money from government handouts. Capitalism in America has been dead for over half a century, happily replaced by corporate welfare. "Oh, but that's not the same!" cried my friend. It's not?

Okay, okay. I'll go find a job.

I looked on Craig's List and I e-mailed employers. I sent out resumes. I pounded the pavements, I networked, I googled. Nothing. I even applied to McDonalds -- and am actually waiting to hear back from them with baited breath. Has it come to this?

I'm scared. I'm worried. I'm afraid. What am I doing wrong that I could be doing differently? I don't know.

But tonight the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra gave a free concert and during the intermission they gave out wonderful samples of Alexandria Watlington's fair trade chocolate-covered toffee squares. Free music and free chocolate made me forget my worries and smile -- if even just for one night. And I appreciated it.

PS: I finally figured out what I do well -- I write a MEAN personal injury settlement brief! Want someone to write about your poor client's pain and suffering as a result of some defendant's obvious liability? I'm your man. It's just like writing soap opera -- combined with a big dose of Rage Against the Machine.

If I could get a job with some public interest law firm who would just set me up in some out-of-the-way corner to grind out settlement briefs, all those big insurance companies who rake in billions in profits by intimidating innocent victims of auto accidents had better watch out!

With a job like that, I could be a revolutionary against corporate greed AND get paid for doing it too.