Enlustered


I got the feeling
March 3, 2012, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Society, Writing | Tags: , , ,

I was approaching the checkout lines at Kroger Tuesday when I became aware that something bad was going to happen, maybe how people feel watching Nightmare On Elm Street.

When it was time to pay I swiped my electronic balance transfer card (food stamps card), but the screen said “unauthorized – decline.” I retried three more times, baffled about why it wasn’t working. I knew I had about sixty or seventy dollars left out of the 200 I get every month. I reluctantly pulled out my credit card.

As I walked out of the store, I knew something was wrong. I assumed my premonition meant that my card being declined wasn’t a mistake. I’d tried to use the card a few days earlier at Martin’s. The line grew as I swiped the food stamp card again and again. The cashier said it wasn’t working because I was using coupons. I’d used coupons before with my card, but I believed her and paid with a credit card, so I could use the coupons.

After I left Martin’s I felt bad about what happened, but I didn’t know why.

When I got home from Kroger Tuesday, I called about the card, and learned it had sixty-four dollars on it. I still felt burdened. On the drive home I started figuring that the Virginia Department of Social Services had cut my food stamp benefits for what will seem an unlikely reason.

In December I published a blog post titled,  “On Feeling Abandoned.” It’s about how I feel pressure in my culture to work jobs I hate just to survive, which I equate to suicide. In the post, I talk about how it’s accepted that people work jobs they’re unhappy with, and that they should just be “grateful they have a job.” I also mentioned that I didn’t want another job, and I’m pretty sure it’s a requirement to receive food stamps that you’re actively seeking paid work.

I noticed that for a couple weeks before Tuesday that my blog was getting regular visits, even though I hadn’t written on it except for once. I never got almost daily visits to my blog, not even when I wrote on it often. The regular visits suddenly stopped after three visits on Monday. All visits were to my home page, which contains all my posts—except one visit to, “On Feeling Abandoned.”

I felt sure that post was why my card wasn’t working, but I called Virginia Department of Social Services Friday to find out why. A nice woman told me my account was still active, and she didn’t know why the card wasn’t working. She said she’d call me back Monday.

Before I called Friday I was hurt and angry that the card, which I first got in the mail in December, wasn’t working. I felt like someone had used my writing to label me a villain. Today was the first day since it happened that I started to feel like things were going to be okay, that I could still grocery shop, and bake vegan treats; that somehow God would take care of me.

The more I write and fix my blog, the more I see I’m not a villain. People working jobs they hate just so they can survive is wrong—yet commonplace in my culture. Also, writing things I feel good about makes me feel rich, even though I technically don’t have much money in the bank (about $800 since I recently got my income tax refund).

I was angry Tuesday, but as time passed I knew Virginia Department of Social Services did the right thing. Without food stamps, I don’t have to be afraid of losing them, or feel restricted about what I write. For that reason I’m also glad I wrote “On Feeling…” In it I avoided mentioning I received food stamps precisely because I thought I’d get “found out.” Really, I wanted to be open about getting food stamps, but felt I couldn’t—and still eat while I followed my dreams.

Whatever happens with the food stamp card, I decided I’m not using it anymore. Life seems much simpler without it. And now I feel I have to focus on my writing. It’s clearer now that writing is the only thing I have in life that reflects how I feel this world should be.

My next challenge is dealing with my student loan deferment, which requires I search for a job. I half-assedly searched for a job when I first applied for the deferment, but I currently am not looking.

***Update: I was told there is no problem with the account and that I could request a new card, which I did partly just to see if there really is no problem with the account. Perhaps my “feeling” meant something else? Perhaps it was just part of my illness.

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