You know how there are always TV commercials and websites and ads and all manner of publications and flyers out there about how “There Is Help” for people who are struggling? Yeah, about that.
I have had, for the past several years and for another week or so to come, the pleasure of living in a delightful small town. It’s actually a city; a real live municipality unto itself. Thriving, growing, good schools, and new businesses popping up every day. It’s a nice place.
Unfortunately, if you live here, no outside social service organization will touch you with a ten-foot pole.
It turns out that major groups like the United Way, the Salvation Army, and even smaller local orgs and county resources are prohibited from providing services to anyone who lives in my city. It’s a jurisdictional thing. Getting evicted and about to be homeless? Not their prob. Electric bill on its final notice? Talk to the hand. Sleeping in your car and need a place to shower? Sorry, insert sympathetic grimace and tongue click.
No, when you live in my charming little burg, the only place that will step in when you’re in a crisis such as mine is the city’s own Social Services Department. But only if you have a job. If you’re unfortunate enough to be unemployed and can’t demonstrate self-sufficiency, you’re out of luck.
I’m so heavily-medicated right now that I might be officially reclassified as a dill pickle, so the aforementioned brick wall of red tape I’ve come up against is just making me laugh. It’s like Catch-22 but with more bureaucrats. I couldn’t get a job because I was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and also my phone was shut off, but without a job I can’t get assistance with housing, and without a safe place to live I’ll be even less likely to get a job what with my car being too small to install a shower and sink in the trunk.
“Aren’t there shelters where you live?”
There is, in fact, no homeless shelter in my delightful little town. There’s one in the next town over, but there’s a waiting list several weeks out (I’m on it), and also I don’t have kids, so, you know. There’s a Salvation Army emergency shelter a few cities in the opposite direction, but you’re only allowed to stay there ten days. I might check it out, but the amount of precious gasoline I’ll have to spend just to visit there is giving me heartburn. My mental health care, and I think I speak for everyone present when I say it’s not an option NOT to get it, is taking place in THIS town and also another town way in the OTHER other direction.
So, needless to say, I’m not thrilled about the prospect of being homeless without even a nice, big natural disaster to blame it on. But the ditzy lady at Social Services (who repeatedly and cheerfully called me by another person’s name even after being corrected) suggested I try to enjoy it. Go to the beach! Hang out! Um, okay. I might, in fact, drive to one of my favorite parks and sleep in the woods. In the car. Because, alligators. But still, nature yay! Right?
God bless the numerous and multicolored pills I’m currently on. They’re taking a situation that had me quietly planning my suicide, and turning it into a situation where I’m quietly rolling my eyes.