Today I spent five hours sitting in a waiting room at the local DES office. It was crowded and noisy. Filled with all types of people: adults, singles, couples, parents with children. All there because we are desperate and needy. I saw dirty, unkempt people. And neat, clean people. And all those in between. I saw people lugging all of their wordly belongings to this place in hopes of maybe getting help.
As well, I saw parents entertaining their kids. Trying to make this long, often humiliating process a bit less trying and boring. I saw people helping people. Explaining the process to those new to it. Encouraging worn down parents with fussy kids.
By the end, I felt as though I’d joined a fellowship of a sort. I have a shiny new EBT card so I can now buy food and take some of the burden off my partner.
Sitting there, I was reminded of my childhood when we had to go check in with the government and assure them that no, we had not suddenly come into money and yes, we did still need food assistance. Food insecurity is a terrible way to live. Back then, we had actual color coded packets of vouchers. It was embarrasing to go shopping and pull those out. At least with the card, you don’t stand out as much.
I sat in my car for a moment and felt…something..nothing. I am dependent. Dependent on my partner. Dependent on my friends. Dependent on the meager services provided by the government. Dependent.