Thursday, January 05, 2006

This is the week I look for work and try to get heath insurance...

I have one day left to accomplish these tasks. And then, inevitably defeated, I will throw myself from the deck of the Natchez as members of the SPCA watch in horror.

No...its not quite that bad. But it is kind of...awful.

I spent Tuesday in line at the unemployment office. Got there at 8am. Left at 2pm. I am eligible either for nothing, or for thirty dollars a week, which frankly wouldn't be worth the trouble of collecting it. The problem is that all the money I earned last year was paid to me by USM, where I was also enrolled as a Ph. D. student. Therefore, it doesn't count as wages for unemployment, even though I paid all other taxes on the money.

I did get to hear some great stories though, including:
A woman who got a call from a FEMA investigator several weeks after the flood. Her home took seven feet. The investigator mentioned hearing the dog in the back yard. Her family didn't have room to squeeze the pit bull in the car along with all the children they were taking, and they thought they'd be home a day later anway. She couldn't believe the dog could survive. It must be another dog. But she and her adult son drive back anyway, just to check on this dog--and there he is, running to them, skinny as hell, but somehow alive.

A friend of this same woman lived on the first floor of a duplex. Her upstairs neighbors were heroin addicts who she kept trying to have arrested or evicted. As the flood waters rose, they brought her upstairs and set her up in a comfortable chair until the rescue boats arrived. Then they helped her into the boat and bid her farewell.

Another man was talking a fast game on his cell phone for the six hours we were next to each other in line. One of the ongoing threads of the conversation involved breeding his pit bulls, one of which was airlifted back to him from Texas, where the rescuers wanted to neuter the dog before it was returned. This outraged and bewildered him--the only reason he has the dogs (which are identified by color rather than names) is to breed them. The whole time he's talking I'm trying not to explode. But then when it was time to turn in our written applications, the staff asked why he hadn't filled out his entire form. "I don't know how to spell," he said. And suddenly I understood why he might have to breed dogs for money.

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