Friday, April 19, 2013

Welfare-Looking for Work

One day I do recall from all of this waste of time was a visitor who spoke for about 30 minutes; she had a wonderful British accent and was very inspiring to listen to. I immediately felt when she was done that more of what she talked about was badly needed in the work preparedness program.  She oozed confidence and professionalism. she typified preparedness. She told us she works in D.C. with the Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Apparently, on this day after the lunch break, which took place after the speaker, I received a mark of non-compliance; I had been disobedient, recalcitrant, rebellious, uncooperative or dissenting.  After the lunch period we returned and were read another power point presentation. The facilitator could not get the projector to work, it was giving a message to clean the machine or something and so she decided to read to us from a print out. 

This afternoon was only my third day in attendance and I was accused of not returning after lunch.  I was not aware that I was being accused of this until the re-application interview process with a different case manager than the one I initially started with. In that interview she said to me, “We don’t mean you need to find a computer job, you need to find immediate employment.”

It was not as if I had been resisting employment, it all sounded so robotic, so rote. She also said I actually had eight instances of non-compliance.

I needed to show fulfillment, obedience, agreement, acquiescence, observance, conformity and evidence of falling in line.   I had received numerous black marks against me and was not even aware of them.  

The lady that sat next to me this day in class got a call during lunch that her baby was sick and needed to be picked-up. She asked me to let them know what happened with her, I did and somehow I got marked as did not return from lunch. It was an error that they denied making. No one apologized or corrected the error.

Finally, we were allowed to get on line, we were to search and apply for jobs.  We were briefed on the Network Contact Log and The Job Search Form.  For the Network contact Log we were to just fill in the form with whatever we applied for while online. Now the Job search form was actually introduced   the evening before the search was to begin. We were to complete this in beginning an active job search. We were to report to the facility by 9:00am sign in, wait for our Job Search Form to be examined and then sign out and leave to begin the a daily, active job search.

I began with a large bouquet of positivism balloons and one by one the work search program facilitators popped them all. I, being a person who was using the transit system to actively search for jobs planned the search in accordance to allow travel time in-between going to locations that I had applied to that were definitely hiring and this was not going to allow me to visit more than three locations between the time we left the facility that morning and 3:15, we were to report back at the facility each afternoon no later than 3:15. 

While on line looking for work I saw an opening for an Administrative Assistant for Dekalb County. In order to be a possible candidate for this job you had to take a test that was being administered in the morning hours,  for three days in a row.  I asked if I could take the test for the job and did that count as valid for the program. I was told yes, it would be fine as long as documentation was provided to prove that I was actually testing for the position and not just, what, lying. That meant instead of reporting to them at 9:00 am the morning I took the test, I would be excused. They counted is as absent for half a day instead and it was said here again that I was non-compliant. Wow! Like I said before, I didn’t know this would be held against me, but it was.   

I kept feeling as if these people did not like their jobs very much. They behaved as if they visualized everyone of the participants as lazy, lying around the house, good for nothing, dumb, worthless, shit headed, creatures of another sort, other than themselves, other than human beings with a love for themselves and their children and their lives, and all of them including the owner were American-African women.  This was one of the most frightening realizations I had ever encountered. I felt a need to reach out. I copied a list of motivating positivism in relation to the universal law of attraction and hung it on what they called their oodles board and emailed it to a few of the women.    

So I felt insulted, I wanted work and I wanted good work and if it was possible for me to get a position with Dekalb County as an administrative assistant I was going for it, shouldn’t I , I thought so,  so I did. I spent approximately five hours waiting and testing and then returned to the facility two minutes before 3:15 and was told I couldn’t come into the office I needed to wait in the hallway for the final two minutes.  I handed in the test scores and the Job search form and went home for the day that was July 12, 2012.

Next, I mapped a route to search for jobs using the Marta trip planner , allowing travel time I was only able to visit three locations before I returned that afternoon, when I arrived the morning of the 17 of July I was told I did not have enough places on the job search form I tried to explain that with the transit system I was not going to be able to go to the locations I wanted to work and visit in-person to inquire about a on-line application or to leave a resume and return by 3:15 so on the form I had completed three of the boxes.  I was given non-compliance and told so.

 The reason was because I only had three places on the Job Search sheet so I tried to explain again, that it was explained to us that we could complete the form out in the field we were told: for example if you go to a place you want to check on for work , and you see another place that maybe or maybe not hiring you could go inside and inquire and add that to your sheet, I explained this and I was told no, no one said it could be done that way, as if I had made this up out of the blue sky.

So, I asked some of the others who were there how they were completing their Job Search Form using the public transit system and if it was said to us that we could complete the form while out in the field? Some agreed and understood that using the transit system to plan a live search was going to need to include travel time and yes it was believed that we could complete the form while out in the field. I was told no, I was not told this and if I was it was not correct and to leave the building, I explained that I was just trying to share my understanding about the way we were instructed to do this, I was cut off interrupted and not to mention called crazy. I said something like “what are you having a bad day, why so angry are you going to call the police on me or something, and was told “if I have to.”

I have never witnessed it get that ugly just that quick, I felt terrible and near hopeless for the whole lot of us.

I went on my way and returned later with the form completely filled in; oh we were allowed to have two boxes for on-line. This was explained like this; you can have two boxes to use if you go into a place and they tell you to apply for any open positions online. When I returned that afternoon, a few of the others were saying how they were completing their forms by going into the phonebook and some were driving so they went to a number of places and went home until it was time to return and so on, I was physically out and about all-day for four to five hours a day looking for a real job. 

On the following morning I had all six boxes on the form completed with the initial information needed.   They would kind of peruse the form of each person and if it looked legit or whatever, they would allow you to sign the attendance sheet for the morning session part of the daily attendance log and send you on your way.  The lines on the form were so short and close together it was almost impossible to write on them. I got in the habit of writing all the information needed to fill in a section on a separate legal pad I had in a folio I had been using to take into interviews, carry resumes and collect business cards and the such, because once you submitted your sheet, you were not allowed to get it back, it was not copied for you or anything at all, so if you neglected to keep your own record of your contacts there was no hope to follow-up, sad, really sad. No one told us that.

On the morning of July 18, 2012 I joined up with a group of ladies that were driving and wanted to go out to some of the same locations I was headed to, we went to College Park, East Point and ended up at the Goodwill Center on Columbia Drive our sheets were filled when we returned.  I neglected to put the times on the form this was my fourth non-compliant mark.
Didn’t it matter that a group of us went to the same places; the times would have all been the same? No, no teaming up, working together credit, no reward in the effort to try and unify and cooperate and accomplish a goal, find a job. I was thoroughly, confused and disappointed, but what did I really expect? I had high expectation, I always do, perhaps because I am who I am and what’s wrong with that? Well, in this case it counted against me.

When I arrived on July 20, 2012 to pick up the free weekly transit card I was told I could not because my case had been closed.  I was given the infractions by date and told I could not have any of these to get money. I was told I needed to re-apply and I did so. Again, I completed an application, when I handed it to the lady at the window she handed me a pre-completed appointment letter to begin the entire process from scratch. I was to come back on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 for a repeat of the orientation again, this time it was different, the room it was to be held in was smaller and I was told I didn’t need to complete the stack of paper work but pick it up just in case. If I was given a different case manager I would need to tell them that they could pick up the paper work stack from the previous case manager, of course I got a different case manager this time and gave her the message when she asked for the stack of papers.

Immediately, she left her desk and went out and left me sitting there for a while. I supposed she went to verify the message I had given her from the previous case manager. When she returned she began the process, she typed and talked and sounded too busy to be concerned, I was quite and observant. When she began to talk about the job search form she said all I needed to do was go on Memorial Drive, go to a plaza on Memorial drive and fill in the sheet. I tried to say that I was looking for a job that would allow me to sustain my family and specifically in my career area because I know how a job can trap you and you may never get out I was just in that situation for three years I worked part-time in a retail establishment, just to have some kind of income and after three years I was terminated and that’s why I’m here. “We want you to find immediate employment, not no computer job.”  

 She decided to have me repeat that mind numbing, behavioral modification program again beginning immediately. So I started the process again, on that following Friday July 27, 2012 I picked up the free weekly transit card  between 9:00am and 11:00am. I was looking with my eyes wide open, I saw the latest generation of American-African women shuffling in and out of the free transit pass building doors. It looked like a whole generation was being sent into society as menial workers who are given the transportation to get to the menial job and have part of their child care provided for and also get a little help food. For the next forty years, never to have seen an opportunity to have any dream come true, just enough to get by and never see the side of life others see.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Oh yeah?

Tweets by @hotchocolatefox