A large number of people feel the need to motivate me. Okay, maybe not a large number, maybe just a few people who are really persistent about it. “You just need a kick in the ass to get you started,” they say. You think so? Let’s talk about that.
I live in an uncomfortable situation. The people I am staying with do not want me there. They have not wanted me there for a long time now. However, I have no place to go. So now, they are working at making my situation increasingly unpleasant, clearly so I will leave. Leave and go where?
But besides that, what is being accomplished here, by acting like this?
Based on rental guidelines around here, I need to be making about 50% more income per month than I am right now. Has kicking my ass caused my company to give me a raise or increase my hours? No. Has it changed rental guidelines? No. Has it lowered rents so that I could afford something? No.
I should get a full time job. Hmmmm. I have been, and continue to be, looking for a full time job but lets be clear about this. The jobs I have heard from want to pay me about 2/3 of my current hourly rate, maybe a bit more. When I multiply that amount times 40 hours and subtract taxes and health insurance, guess what? It’s the same dollar amount I make now. Why would I work more hours for the same pay? That doesn’t make sense. I need a full time job at the same rate of pay, give or take 10%. That would increase my income.
When did working 40 hours become the standard for judging suitable employment? I get that it’s considered full time and in theory we all want to work full time. However, it isn’t the only criterion for a good job. I mean, you can take home $400.00 a week. Would you rather work 40 hours for it, or 25? Having less time to pursue my interests without gaining income doesn’t seem like a reasonable trade. What happened to “work smarter, not harder”? Oh, that only applies to folks working 40 hours, the rest of us are slackers. (Please recognize sarcasm, it doesn’t come across in print sometimes.)
Has kicking my ass changed the available jobs? No. Does it change the pay on those jobs? No. Does it make me complete more applications? Well, I have already applied for everything I can find that I might be remotely qualified to do, and a few things I know I’m not at all qualified for. I am limited by actual hours and location, because I am on public transportation. I can’t take a job that starts at 7:00 am or ends at midnight simply because there is no bus in my neighborhood at that time to make sure I arrive on time or get home safely.
Oh, transportation is a problem? Then buy a car! Uh-huh. So right now I have barely enough dollars to pay bills and support myself and my daughter, but I should take on greater debt? Mobility and freedom? Better jobs because I am not tied to buses and trains? Maybe. If someone wanted to sell me a working car for say $500, I’d do it in a heartbeat. “Working” for me, in Texas, would mean engine runs, it has air conditioning so I don’t arrive at work all sweaty, and hopefully a working radio. But people want $2000 even for cars they know needs a major repair (major = $400 and up) which would totally wipe out my savings which I need for the downpayment to get into an apartment.
I could maybe get a loan and buy a newer, more expensive vehicle, maybe. There’s no repair coming up but instead there’s a recurring bill for a couple of years. Plus there would be the ongoing costs of insurance and gas. I figure I’m looking at close to $400 / month for a used car, maybe more depending on payments and gas prices. Any increase in pay is going to be eaten up by increased transportation expense. Not sure that gets me ahead at all. By which I mean, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Makes it easier to buy groceries. $400.00 a month so I don’t have to tote cat food or laundry on the bus? Seems, well, almost frivolous.
Surely there is low income housing in my area. I’m not the only person with low income after all. Well, there is, and I don’t really qualify. I have talked to both city and county housing. City has a 2 year wait list, county is 5 years. I could move up the list if I was elderly or disabled, but I’m not. Or I could get up there if I was in a homeless shelter. Okay, let’s see:
Most local homeless shelters want you to check in by 5 in the afternoon and be out by 8 in the morning. I suppose that makes sense because it’s around regular working hours which are 8 am to 5 pm here. I work 4 pm to 8 pm, so I can’t check in at 5. Can I check in early? Some places say yes, but then you can’t leave. If you leave, you lose your place in line and there is a limited number of beds. By the time I get out of work and make it downtown, it’s close to 9:00 pm or maybe later. The shelters I’ve talked to so far are either full or locked down by then.
Besides, I have pets. And I love my pets, I don’t want to put them in a shelter or on the street. And I have this computer. I haven’t always been poor; I bought the computer when I had a job that paid more (more dollars per hour, full time hours, and I had a car back then). I already own it, I’m not gonna get rid of it just because it doesn’t fit people’s idea of what poor folks own. I also can’t leave it or my phone unattended in a shelter when I use the bathroom or take a shower. Most of us are honorable, but there’s always someone who isn’t. I hate saying that however my experience suggests it’s true.
So why didn’t I try to get help from this place sooner? I’m sorry, I’ve been struggling with this issue for 2 years now and you think I’m just now looking for help? You think this is my first round of calls to social service agencies who have nothing for me? You think I’ve been sitting on my butt for the last 2 years doing nothing because clearly the fault has to be with me personally and not with the way the system is set up or people’s perceptions of who needs help compared to who actually needs help? Not saying other people don’t need help, just saying there are more categories of people out there than fit the criteria for many agencies.
All of which is to say, I don’t need you to kick my ass. Life is already kicking my ass. I am close to the point of learned hopelessness, you know, where you stop trying because whatever you do is wrong. I could use a hug. I could use a lead to job that will actually support me. I could use a little hope and encouragement.
But by all means, feel free to continue telling me I lack motivation and I’m not trying hard enough.
Just don’t be surprised if I have no sympathy for you when the tables are turned.