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Viva,, Sep 09, 2003

So I just got back from the GA office. My new worker doesn�t like me very much, I can tell because I was out of the system for a while and am coming back. I spent six weeks in Arizona at my family�s house watching promises break and being evangelized. I also spent a few weeks in a fruitless job search, finding myself trying to think of a reason not to start stripping. I remembered that this was what I was thinking just before I left the city, so I decided to convince myself not to be a stripper here instead. I missed Zach, too, that was the biggest reason.

Of course none of that is here or there or anywhere close to those places, so there I was, sitting in front of this stout, older black lady with gray hair combed poofily over her head like Mary Tyler Moore�s when she was married to Dick Van Dyke. This lady is in theory the go-between for me to get some money from the government.

�Why did you go to Arizona?�
�Why�d you leave?�
�What happened?�
�They are Catholic. I am not. Therein lie our differences which led to my departure.�
�What day did you come back?�
I looked at her calendar. I knew that in order for me to receive benefits I�d have to be in the county for at least 14 days, in reality of course I�d only been here for a week, but that is irrelevant because they have no way of finding it out. I picked a date.

�I got here�.it must�ve been on the first.�
�Of August?�
�Of August.�
�And where did you go when you got here? Did you go to a shelter?�
I have never, ever stayed in a shelter, and until San Francisco has a snowstorm, which is unlikely given the absence of snowstorms in the Bay Area since time began, or unless the city opens a shelter that is not smelly and infested with lice and bedbugs, which is less likely, I will continue to not stay in shelters.

�I went to the park with my boyfriend.�
�What�s his name?�
�Stanley� (Never tell them the truth.)
�What�s his last name?�
�Hemingway� (Never, ever, tell them the truth.)
�Which park did you go to?�
�Dolores Park.� (Never, ever, ever tell them the truth.)
Forget about that fact that all these questions are totally irrelevant as for as legalities and privacy and non-discriminatory policies put in place by the very government whose money she is so pit-bullishly defending. Forget about all that bullshit just for a moment because she is in charge and you better respond to the questions she asks you like a galley slave would respond to the beating of a drum. Forget about the fact that all she really has the right to ask is name, rank, and number, and send you a check and see you out the door. Forget about all that, because it really is more amusing just to make up answers as we go along.

�Do you have a bank account?
�Any type of income? Child support? Settlement? Social security?�� and she began going down the list of possible incomes �til she got to the bottom.

�Do you have any money right now?�
�Nope, none.�
Then she gives a little mama hen cluck and says
�You sound like me.�
And I just kinda sat there for a moment because I thought that was really weird. I sound like her. I sound like her because she too must have slept in the park last night and must have mosquito bites all over her vast body as I do on my small one. I sound like her because I don�t have money for the bus and I have to sneak on the back doors until I find an old transfer lying around. I must sound like her �cuz she hung out on Haight Street last night and ate a plate of leftover cous cous from a restaurant that just closed its doors and she was in line to eat free food this morning too, I just must not have seen her. I sound like her because when I leave this office I�m going to go hang out at the library and check my email and try to find a reason not to go get a job stripping today even though I have a million job skills. I guess I must sound just like her.

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