It’s not easy to milk the public welfare system when over ten percent of New York City’s workforce is unemployed and many more are starving due to the loss of trust funds to the Bernard Madoff scandal.
Lines at the welfare office at 500 DeKalb Avenue extend onto the sidewalks outside, but I marched my lily-white ass through the masses of the poor to stake claim to my share of the food stamp pie, Medicaid insurance, rental supplements and utility support that are available to those strong enough to cut through red tape so sticky that one, if not in a sane state of mind, would hang himself with, just to avoid having to stand in another line and absorb the nasty attitude that is far too commonly tossed by staff who work in such places.
In just one day, I was issued $240 worth of food stamps and had my Con Edison utility bill paid by you, the taxpayer, and I must admit, this may be the perfect lifestyle for a writer, who needs time to sit on his ass with a full stomach in order to write something worth reading.
One simply does not leave the welfare office and wait for benefits to take effect. The state of New York demands that those on public welfare attend a ‘back to work’ program, coordinated through mothball- ridden Goodwill Industries. For the last five days, I have spent time inside what is nothing less than a prison cell—the job center at Goodwill—where staff treat both white and black people like slaves in this new age of You Gets Nothing for Free, nor Forty Acres and a Mule.
I became terribly upset yesterday after speaking with my case manager, Clifford Taylor. I learned that I would have to remain in Goodwill’s back to work program until I eventually find a job. Therefore, according to Mr. Taylor, I must put on a dress shirt and tie every day, and continue to report to the sixth floor of Goodwill’s corporate headquarters on Elm Place, if I wish to avoid having my benefits suspended by the “state’s computer’s”.
“There must be some sort of glitch in that computer of yours,” I explained, calmly to the black Mr. Taylor, who obviously is not suffering from lack of food like me.
“I have no power to exempt you from the program—it’s automatic,” Clifford Taylor explained with a tiresome look in his eyes.
“This is horrible. Just being here all day is preventing me from finding a real job. Do you really expect me to work as a cashier at Century Twenty One? That’s the only job offer they announce daily in that hot-ass room. Do you know how many crack heads you have in there? And they all pick me out as the one to talk to. The lone white man in the room. They all vent their frustrations towards the man on me. When they talk to me, they poke me with their finger in my chest and it hurts. I may just have to file some sort of complaint if this action does not stop.”
Clifford Taylor just smiled at me and asked, “How are you anyway? How do you feel today?”
“I’m on cloud nine,” I said. “I learned yesterday that I’m going to be published in the magazine Time Out New York. You ever heard of that?”
“Why yes,” Clifford Taylor remarked while nodding his unconcerned head at me.
“That’s it!” I threatened. “You have no idea who I am as a writer. I’m going to make you famous, Mr. Taylor. Just you wait and see.”
“Your next appointment with me is on September 9th,” he explained. “I’ll see you then, that is, if you haven’t already made a fortune from your writing by then.”