Home » dealing with it. » The easy way to go crazy. Just press 5.

The easy way to go crazy. Just press 5.

Nothing but time.

Nothing but time.

I’m tired of being awake.

It’s exhausting not to be able to turn off, tune out and shut down. I’m like that little swirly circle on the computer that won’t connect to the wifi. Just spinning in place.

Today was paperwork day. Just the thing to make you feel a little, tiny bit crazier than you want to be.

The good news is that I may get Social Security Disability. The bad news is that you have to be in bad shape to get it. They don’t even TRY to sugarcoat it. If it looks like you’re going to live too long and drag it out and get lots of money, they make you jump through hoops. Me? They checked with my doctor and said ‘Sure. This won’t last long.’ Assholes. I’ll show them. I’ll be off their hands in 6 months. They think dead, I think back to work. The Battle in Seattle is ON. Hmmmpf…don’t get me mad!

The paperwork part, the information they needed to decide the how’s and how much, was incredibly detailed. Fifteen years of work history. Jesus. And me with chemo brain. I got all the way back to 1979 so EAT THAT! (Ps. Thanks Mom) Plus strange questions. Such as ‘Can you cook?’ That was a fun one. Lets see, I make a wicked good lasagna but I always overcook my custards. ‘Do you have trouble with authority figures?’ Hmmmm…such as the Social Security Administration? Oh, here’s a good one. ‘Are you experiencing any new fears as a result of your illness?’ I said yes. I’m afraid of dying. I didn’t write the accompanying expletive. Can you walk, talk, drive, see, hear, socialize, what CAN’T you do that you used to do, do you miss it, are you happy, are you totally bummed out, just HOW SICK ARE YOU?!

Pages and pages of it. And specific instructions on not skipping answers. Fill that form out. All of it. Details. It’s all in the details. But it all got done. Now I just wait and see, I guess.

After that I thought I’d better tackle the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s what they call the Welfare dept now. I need help paying for food. As much as my heroes are doing, I still have minimal cash for food. And after all, they shouldn’t have to pick up all the slack.

I applied for food stamps. They call it something else now. They give you a debit card. Mine is for $98 a month. That’ll buy some carrots. I appreciate it too. Don’t think just cuz I’m bitching about paperwork, that I don’t. I jump beautifully through hoops, growling the whole time. Actually DHHS was almost as entertaining as SSA, in its own inimitable way.

I called because I was accepted. Back in late February they said sure. $98. We’ll send a card. It hasn’t come, but I did get a letter saying I still had $3 on my card and it hadn’t been used in 330 days so they were going to cancel it.

Imagine my joy.

I called them. Now I knew this call was going to be SUPER ENTERTAINING. The phone? Calling a giant department like that on the PHONE!? It went just as I thought it would. Press 1 for English, press 2 for child care, press 4 for housing, (wait, you think. What happened to 3! Did I miss 3! Was 3 my button?) meanwhile it goes on, press 6 for…(OMG I just missed 5) press 7 for…did he just say food stamps or whatever they call it now? I’m pressing 7, I’m going IN. 7 was wrong. But I changed my PIN number on the nonexistent old card that they are canceling. So there. Hah. Suck on that! At least I did something…so there is no ‘back’ button when you do that 7 thing. They kick you off the phone. “Goodbye” and the phone goes dead. Curses.

So I call back. Press this and that enter an ID number, the ID of the magical mystery card, that I got off the strange 330 day you’re SO cut off letter. It worked. At least the ID number got me recognized. I think. Something happened there, man.

I felt something.

It was all happening on speaker phone, too. So Mom and Liza could appreciate that it wasnt my crazy chemo brain. It was real. And it really was getting funny.

So I got put on hold. But that was an improvement. I think I reached the correct dept. I was even cool with the ‘Your projected wait time is…(long pause) 21 minutes.’ Then the phone went dead. Click. ‘Please hang up and try your call again.’ I admit it. I had tears in my eyes. Of laughter. OMG! FAIL! So now I’m onto them. I call again, press this and that. Enter ID number, press 1, press 3 (the missing 3 showed up!) and get put on hold. The voice. ‘Your estimated wait time is….17 minutes.’ An improvement. If you don’t count the 10 minutes it took to get back there. Then the voice throws a curve ball. ‘If you would like to leave a call back number…press 9’ I fell for it. Dang it. Cut off.

Did it again. Get all the way back. The voice offers the press 9 plan from outer space. Not me! Oh no sir. I’m sticking. I’m here and I’m not pressing anything. But there was 5. Press 5 to speak with an agent. How could I NOT DO THAT! It was a Catch 22, classic. I was on hold for an agent. If I didn’t press it…but what if I did? That’s right people. I pressed 5. Fail. Utter fail. Cut off. Something about after or before 2pm. Wish I was kidding but it was 2:01 pm.

I called again. I was getting good, getting faster, my sister was making chili rellenos, with fresh Anaheim peppers, roasted and peeled and stuffed with cheddar and dipped in egg batter and fried. Served with green tomatillo salsa. Keeping my spirits up. There’s nothing better than freshly made chili rellenos. Should have had a beer with it but I settled for green tea. Cuz I am PISSED at SSA’s attitude. I will show them.

Anyway, I got back there. I didn’t press 9 or 7 or 5. I stuck my landing. I stayed the course. No tempting offers of calling me back or talking to agents or changing PIN numbers. I just ate chili rellanos and stuck it. Oh and that’s the other thing…no music. Nothing. I mean, I hate the music anyway. Usually. Once in awhile you get something good depending on who you call. Maybe ‘Missing You’ by John Waite. You know the song? Love it. It’s usually Billy fucking Joel singing ‘ what’s the matter with the car I’m driving…’ Or something equally horrid. To me. But DHHS is silent. You gotta trust them, man. Once in awhile there’s a short burst of song. Like 3 seconds. Just enough to startle you. Or an ominous click. And you wait, all tensed up, for the dial tone.

But I got through. A guy with a really heavy Mexican accent. Sounded great. I was afraid I’d get Enid, the pissed off 30 year veteran with diabetes and a smokers cough. This guy was hilarious. When I gave him my ID # and told him about the letter he said ‘Forget about that. That’s not here or there. You got $98 on your card. It’s good. They approved you.’ He was so convincing, I almost hung up right then. But wait, I don’t have the card. ‘You were approved. On March 7th. You get the card one week later.’ Ummm…but it’s the 19th. There was a longish pause…’Maybe two weeks. Ten days at the latest.’ I asked him if they could send a replacement card. ‘Ooohhhhh man. They hate to do that.’ (Don’t you LOVE the disassociation! I would do it, but THEY, THEY ARE sucky monsters. Perfect.) Now Mom and Liza and I are cracking up. Quietly. We’re polite but I’m snorting now. I asked him what HE would do and he said ‘Well, those guys with the replacement cards, they’re in Texas.’ Of all places! ‘I wouldn’t, personally, want to wait. I would just come in before 2pm and wait in line and get a card issued. That’s what I would do. I mean, Texas.’ As if that explained it all. So I spent almost 2 hours on the phone to be told to drive to Bremerton and wait 2 hours in line.

Oh well, I have time.



6 thoughts on “The easy way to go crazy. Just press 5.

  1. That’s… that’s just crazy. No wonder the debt your government is racking up is so hard to reign in, they have whole departments devoted to sending citizens round and round in an infinite loop. They must have whole degrees at Harvard to teach people how to be this inefficient, because it’s pretty hard to be this appalling by accident.


    • It was staggering. At first. Then you really HAVE to laugh.

      Beside, Kiwi, the way I look at it, there are plenty of free loading Freddie’s out there spoiling it for the real sick ones. There are people who damage their health, their brains, everything, just so they can stay at home and watch tv or do crystal meth.

      I don’t blame the depts. I blame the liars, slackers and losers. And there are always the Enid’s. Sick and tired of the whining and lying. Ready to get her own back. Besides, I paid a lot into those salaries over the years. Just pinching off a little bit to get me thru. I also know that anytime you get an elaborate phone system you’re going to have elaborate troubles with it. They should send them to Harvard just to figure out how to pick up or transfer a call. I was getting fast there at the end. I’ll bet I could pick up the knack after a year or so.


  2. That’s true, and a remarkably enlightened attitude. I try to get some of our clients to view the tax laws the same way (yes it’s annoying but the rules are there because people cheat the system so would you kindly stop yelling at me about the rules I didn’t make). But a lot of people forget that. Still, I’m not sure that accounts for the missing numbers and balances on cards you haven’t used yet.


    • No, the missing numbers and the odd 330 days are the result of something completely different. Another person with the same name, maybe. Ever google yourself or your name. Very humbling. The fellow seemed to realize it instantly when he got my #’s so kudos to him. He could use the hell out of a computer. It was/is unfortunate that the thing they need the most, perhaps updated technology, will be a long time coming with all the budget cuts over here. I just hate going into a place like a crowded office in my condition. Masks and gloves. They scare the children! Haha…and the clerks. And the customers. Say…I might be able to clear that building out. They’ll think I’m contagious….


There is no sin except stupidity.

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