Mayoral Survivor Contest: The BEAST Wants You to Run for Mayor!

Rather Ridiculous : Media Forfeits Balls - Al Uthman

What FDA Ruling? Keeping Kids on Drugs - Matt Taibbi

Shitty Hall: Shady Start to Mayoral Race - Eric Gauchat

A Lesson in Family Values: Scamming the Media, Parlock Style -William Rivers Pitt

Wake Up and Smell the Jungle Rot - Stan Goff

Pano's Controvery Rages on?

Kitty Kelley's The Family: - Book Review by Matt Taibbi


Buffalo in Briefs


Notes from the Big House: The Peda-files

Ask Dr. Rotten: Interview with Sacred Seeds' Main Man

True Horrors of Local Bureacracy: Wrath of the Rath- Jonathon Chance

Page 3

Separated at Birth?


Kino Korner


alexisonfire, Moneen at the Showplace


Ketchup Samurai Hip Hop Reviews




Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob The Angry Flower - Stephen Notley

Contact Us


Archives--Old BEASTs





2004 The Beast

A friend of mine-we'll call her "Sue"-called me up and asked a favor a short time ago. She needed someone to take her to Buffalo to apply for food stamps and public assistance. Suffice it to say that while so many people make a career out of welfare, this young lady is truly in need, hoping to get some help to carry herself, her disabled husband, and her four children through until she can find another job.

I picked Sue and one of her kids up on a Monday morning, bright and early. We figured if we could get an early enough start, we could beat the crowd to the Rath Building, and maybe get out of there before Christmas. We arrived at 8am just as they were opening the doors, and there were already about ten people ahead of us. We went to the information desk, and the lady behind the counter eating breakfast grudgingly put down her Egg McMuffin to write down Sue's name, and told her to wait to be called. Apparently this was what they did with everyone. After about forty-five minutes, not a single person had been called.

During this time, most of the social workers were walking around, chatting, and getting coffee. Finally, at ten to nine, they started calling names. Each person was directed to another booth, or another floor, where many were again told to leave their names and wait. When Sue was called, the lady behind the counter, now eating a sandwich, gave Sue about fifteen pages of paperwork to fill out, and a list of things that she needed before they could process her case. She was then directed to a food stamp worker who took some more information from her, and gave her an additional list of things she needed to bring with her.

Sue was then told to go home, fill out all the paperwork, gather the required documentation, and return the next day to be interviewed. She informed them that she had everything she needed with her (Sue smartly called the office to see what she would need to bring before coming up.), and asked if she could fill out the paperwork there and speak to someone that day. She was told that it would take her the better part of a day to fill out all the necessary forms. At that point, she produced the completed forms she had been given initially, which she had finished while she was waiting to be called. The social worker huffed and puffed and said there was no way she could have done it all that fast, then snatched the forms from Sue's hands and flipped through them, assumably trying to find the ones Sue had missed, or done wrong, or whatever.

Finally, Sue was told to go back to the information desk and stand in line again. She got to the counter about eleven-thirty where the lady, who was now eating a bag of chips, rudely said that we would have to wait to be called again, and to sit down. At about one-fifteen, Sue finally was called back to the window, where she had to talk to another woman, because the original girl was going to lunch with about fifteen people still in her line. The second, slightly nicer woman told Sue that she would have to come back at eight the next morning for some sort of orientation and interview.

The following morning we were back in line, watching another McMuffin devoured. Again to the chairs to wait, and again, an hour later, Sue was being called, this time to go into a side room for some sort of orientation. I was told it was just a bunch of propaganda about how Sue, and all the others in the room, were second class citizens, and needed to get a life, followed by a description of all of the other government freebies she could apply for.

After the brainwashing session, she was back to the chairs for another hour to be called for a "personal employment assessment interview." She was taken into a room with a bunch of people at desks, drinking coffee and eating snacks, and enjoying personal conversations on their government-funded phones. She said that twice during her assessment she was interrupted by her interviewer taking personal calls about school pickups and after-school activities. I was told that at any given time, only about a quarter of the people doing the assessments actually had people at their desks.

The interview complete, Sue had to bounce around to a couple of different windows to repeatedly give the same information to several different people for different aspects of the assistance programs, and then she was told that she had to come back the next day for another interview, and to have her fingerprints and photograph taken. I hadn't realized that being broke was a crime.

The following day I wasn't able to take Sue up to the welfare office until around three p.m., which, apparently, wasn't a bad thing. The most amazing thing happened when we arrived there. I guess there is a rule that says they have to process everyone who arrives before three-thirty within the same day, and these social workers don't like to stay late. So from the time we walked in the door, we never sat down. We were rushed from window to window to an upstairs office, to an interviewer who rushed through a few quick questions. All of the surrounding desks were full as well. Forty-five minutes after we arrived, we were back out the door, done.

I sat through three days of watching my friend degraded and unnecessarily lectured about what a deadbeat she is (yes, that word was actually used twice), because she has had some bad luck recently and swallowed enough of her pride to ask for help. I was disgusted by the treatment that she got. I figured it was par for the course, and of course these people must be better than my friend, because they had jobs, and would never need to get help from the system.

That was until three days ago, when I was standing in line at the grocery store behind a woman who worked at Social Services, and had made some degrading comments to my friend about how she needed to find a job and learn to support herself. She had a cart full of steaks and chips and snacks and Pepsi. I overheard her telling the clerk that she was getting ready to tailgate with her husband at the Bills game. How amazed was I when it came time for her to pay, and she pulled out a welfare Benefit Card and paid for her groceries with food stamps. My friend Sue has to go back in a couple of weeks for some final certification before she can get her benefits. I really hope this worker is there that day. I have some supportive words for her.

Jonathon Chance is a disgruntled citizen from Western New York, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana, Alaska, Venezuela, and the Seychelles. He has a BS in Computer Engineering and a BA in Political Science from East Carolina University. He is retired, and spends most of his time writing about anything that pisses him off. He can be contacted at jonathonchance@hotmail.com.


..Printer-Friendly Version ..... This Issue ...........Home............. Contact........Archives

Free Hit Counter
free hit counter