Earlier this year I became the recipient of an Illinois Link card.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Link card (or EBT card) is the modern replacement for food stamps.
That is how I've been able to feed myself since unemployment was cut off in late December of 2013.
The process of applying for and receiving Link is a tale unto itself. In fact, I wasn't aware that I was eligible for Link until I was applying for health care coverage via the Affordable Care Act.
That's the thing about this stretch of unemployment, nothing puts an exclamation point on how dire your situation is until you are able to qualify for food stamps. Nonetheless, I'm grateful for this particular corner of the safety net as I'd pretty much be hungry without it.
As I intoned in an earlier post, asking for help is difficult for me. I've done it but I don't like it. Making myself vulnerable to the whims and judgments of others is an unsettling place to be.
Hell, I'm uncomfortable writing this post.
So I'm sure you can imagine how I felt during the application process.
Interestingly enough, the reality of my financial situation vs. my perception of my financial situation usually doesn't register. When it does---and that happens more often as my unemployment continues---that's when the bad days happen.
And how could I not feel bad? The level of intolerance and downright cruelty to those in need is seemingly at an all time high. We live in a country where some people consider a refrigerator an amenity.
While I can't speak for all households I can tell you that I had a refrigerator, range, microwave and washer/dryer before my financial shit hit the fan. What should I do--- get rid of all of those things because I have less money?
I'll let you all in on a little secret--- I'm a shitty poor person.
Non existent bank balance and debt load aside, I often forget I'm actually poor. I have the audacity to defy stereotypes of what folks are led to believe the poor are like.
Moreover, (and I'm not shitting you about this) I sometimes forget that I have a Link card and pay for food with what little money that I have.
I told you I was a shitty poor person.
Despite what the news reports say, more and more formerly middle class folks continue to fall on hard times. The new reality of those hard times will more than likely include a reliance on an EBT card in order to eat.
Make no mistake, having an Link card helps, but it does not in any way cover all of the essentials a person needs when looking for a job.
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