Friday, September 26, 2008

Apparently you have to know english to work the system.

9 am knock on the door. It is a Somali neighbor. She has a letter stating that her Access (food stamps) benefits are going to be terminated if she does not renew them. It is a 10 page document that after reading, I had a bit of trouble understanding all of.

She looks inside the house.
"Ladder." She says, proud of her vocabulary.

Great, now if only she could tell me the "the cause of denial for the most recent application for unemployment compensation benefits."

I invite her in to look at all of the paperwork. I call her caseworker. I can picture the woman on the other side of the phone. She is not an native English speaker, and I imagine that she has a reputation for being hard nosed.

"She has been here for three years, she should be able to call for herself." This woman says. She then lists the mountains of paperwork needed to refile. She needs a letter from her previous employer stating why and when she was laid off. "She should have this, and should have it filed." She needs all bills, all bank accounts, a copy of her lease, etc etc.

We got to her house to look at the paperwork she has kept. She hands me a pile of things that look important. Some junk mail has slipped in as well as some routine letters from her kids'school. There are some personal items and pin numbers that nobody should know but her scribbled on the papers. These are the things she has kept, thinking that she may need them later. She shows me her bank statement and her unemployment numbers and tells me the balance in her bank account to the penny.

No Unemployment letter. No layoff notice.

I call the PA unemployment center. It is ironic that the unemployment office is understaffed, I bet they can find some out of work people no? I wait 20 minutes and talk to a really awesome guy.
"Hi, I am calling for my neighbor blah blah"
"I need to speak directly to her."
"OK" and hand her the phone.
"Yes I do" and gives her social security number, proudly having remembered it.
"78. Yes. Yes, 19. Yes. 19 ... .. 78."
Long pause.
"I do not know..." I know exactly what is being asked, her date of birth. She doesnt have one. Much like immigration botching all of our ancestors' last names, they just gave all these people 1/1/year birthdays.
"January 1."

I get all of her paperwork together and tell her the final thing that she needs, the letter of termination from her last employer. She has 3 kids all at school right now, all less than 10 year old. It is unbelievable to me that had she not come over, she might have not had any money for food in October. What happens then? Her kids get taken away?

The "case worker" at welfare was so uncaring and callous it was pretty crazy. She gave me the wrong answers as to whom should be helping this woman. Her attitude was "its not my job..." She acted like her job was to fill in blanks on a computer screen rather than help people, which is supposed to be her freaking job.



Anonymous said...

It`s a sad ass f**king world.....

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say the case worker at the welfare office was "uncaring". Maybe, she is suck and fucking tired of working, so others do not have to. Her 24k a year job gets her nothing and since she has a job, she gets nothing. You come here, from Somalia, with your 3 kids and barely speak the langauge and you get a better life than the working class. Go the fuck back to Somalia and be there fucking problem. You do no good for us.

Fuck that, I have ZERO compasion for those on assistance.

Amy said...


Dear Anonymous Poster,
The Somali woman that Steevo is referring to was recently laid off from her job. She has worked for the last 3 years for a laundry service, but apparently there were cutbacks. As she looks for a new job in her new contry, where she has refugee status, she is applying for some assistance. She works really hard to support her kids and make ends meet.

She actually didn't move here from Somalia. She moved here from Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. She lived there for 12 years, lived in a mud hut, had the tiniest rations of food. She is so grateful to be living here in the United States and doesn't harbor a sense of entitlement.

Do you also have ZERO compassion for people in war torn countries like Somalia? How about people in refugee camps who traveled for weeks on foot, watched loved ones beaten, raped, and killed on the way? That is the story of our Somali neighbors.

Our Somali neighbors are the sweetest, kindest people who work hard and feel lucky to be in the US.

Lastly, the caseworker chose to work in the social service field.

"Social Work"- organized work directed toward the betterment of social conditions in the community, as by seeking to improve the condition of the poor, to promote the welfare of children, etc.

Anonymous said...

FUCK THE POOR. Go the hell back to your third world country. Nobody gives a shit about her and her kids. If you live in a mud hut, then its better then the those who live in a card board box.

The hell with her kids. They can work. Go find a sweat shop.

Asta Lama

Anonymous said...

People who make 'anonymous' assertions as above, are usually the smartest, strongest, most well-informed folks around. I decided to post anonymously in the hopes that some of this enlightenment will rub off.

steevo said...

Im just going to quote morrissey:
"its so easy to laugh, its so easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind"

Anonymous said...

I've heard those anonymous rants before... Id guess thats the work of one... riding at 420... the pothead republican't. Just anonymous this time around to go a bit overboard and get people pissed. Steevo do some leg work on the ip's of folks responding/reading your blog.. Id bet thats him. And way to help out a neighbour.. When you get done writing that Chew biography.. maybe you can move into social work. Or we can find that douchebags house kick in his door rape his wife, kill his kid(s) and burn his house down and see what he has to say about assistance afterwards. Some people..

ridin at 4:20™ said...

"Or we can find that douchebags house kick in his door rape his wife, kill his kid(s) and burn his house down and see what he has to say about assistance afterwards. Some people.."

Fucking Anonymous pussy. Republicans are for bearing arms. Email me at so I can give you my address and you can stop by.

I'm all for helping the poor. On top of rising gas prices, savings rates dropping, food costs going up, etc. Sure, take more of my tax dollars to help those who cannot support themselves.

Steevo is a frequent reader of my blog and usually a rather nice poster, therefore I respect his blog and views.

You on the other hand are just another anny pussy who can't even identify himself when they talk shit on someone. Therefore, I highly doubt you would show up at my door step. If you did, I'd shoot you for trespassing