Here I sit at the unemployment office with the number 92. I have been here since 9:20 a.m. and it is now 11:50. Number 49 has just been called....I think I'll be here awhile. I stare around me, at the faces of my fellow comrades in arms trying to find our way out of the wilderness of a Post Bush Era. Let me say this now and clearly; I work hard, I am intelligent, I am proud of contributing to a workforce and community. So, I ask you, objectively, why am I sitting here? Anyone?
The reception desk is helmed by a pleasant looking man (yes, just one) who looks like he would prefer to be anywhere, including an uninhabitable planet, rather than here. I watch him attempt to direct and guide people and briefly feel much more happy. It dawns on me, for whatever situation I am in, I believe I am much better off than the lone receptionist. (I wonder, briefly, if there's a black market at the unemployment office for selling numbers 1-20. *note to self, find out if this is illegal.)
I try to read, blocking out the surrounding noise and give this up after a few minutes. Twiddling my thumbs, I wait out the seconds until I hear 92 called at 3:20 p.m. I walk, or technically sprint, to the desk with my letter to discover why my unemployment is being held up. Apparently the computer system lists me as having a new dependent each week, even though I am childless, unable to have children and keep pressing "no dependents" on the enrollment phone call each week. By my calculation, I should have at least 5 children by now, according to the I.D.E.S., (Illinois Department of Employment Security-as they prefer to be called). A child a week is quite a neat trick when you think about it and would probably prove profitable if it was true.
I leave after a 3 minute consultation and a brief computer correction, feeling more tired than I have a right to for sitting all day.
Here's the thing. For all of my bitching, the trip was well spent. I watched families come and go, for six hours, most of them with children to care for. I watched people who were working in their jobs, that clearly didn't want to be working in them. I watched laid off workers, struggling to get their unemployment benefits paid, while their previous employer contested it.
I had, no children to worry about, no job to dislike, and a generous former employer who was paying severance and allowing unemployment at the same time.
You think you have it bad....spend an afternoon at the unemployment office, excuse me, I.D.E.S, that's what they prefer.