Category Archives: Depression

Good Riddance, 2009

It’s New Year’s Eve, and the last thing I want to do is go out and celebrate. I don’t want to stay home either, as the roommate will probably be here as well and I won’t be able to hide away by myself. I’ve spent a lot of today watching the Twilight Zone marathon on Syfy. I feel content while doing this, even though they keep playing this depressing tear-jerker of a commercial.

At this point I suppose this blog will transform into a chronicle of the depths of my depression as opposed to a blog about my lack of money. My roommate continues to make my life more difficult than it needs to be. Again, I appreciate her kindness, but it’s not a license to treat me like crap. I’m just trying to mind my own business.

For many years I have had issues with chronic fatigue and exhaustion, which can lead me to sleep for abnormally long periods of time. Lately, however, I’ve been battling insomnia. I sleep in the basement to keep my cat quiet, and even with the space heater I am awake most of the night, shivering. When I do fall asleep, I am plagued by nightmares, generally about money. I don’t really remember the dreams very well, but they are usually about being threatened and harassed by people who want money from me. I do recall a dream that the police officer who called me annoying had broken into my old apartment and began taking everything I owned in order to pay off some mystery debt. I generally wake up in a heart-racing panic that someone is after me or will cause me bodily harm.

My British passport is still “in processing” even though I’ve paid all the fees for it. From what I’ve gathered, it’s stuck somewhere in London and there will be more details available next week. I became a bit concerned when the passport did not arrive at Mom 2’s house, so I rode the bus to my old apartment to see if UPS had been by. I worried that they had shipped to my billing address instead of my shipping address. On my old door was a huge legal document. It wasn’t a summons, but it was about 40 pages of jargon and it discussed what I owe my previous landlords and how they wanted to sue me. They had attempted to summon me several times, but I wasn’t around. Of course I wasn’t around — I moved! I am judgment-proof, which means they can’t collect anything from me. They only want $1400 plus court fees, but I have nothing to collect. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a judgment against me, and it also means that I have to prove that I have nothing to collect. I haven’t really begun to process that yet. To add insult to injury, two other creditors of mine are threatening me with lawsuits, and one in particular is sure to carry it out. I’ve tried to talk to them, but all they do is yell. That doesn’t sit well with me considering a) the recent bailouts b) the relatively small amount I actually owe and c) the large sums of fees and interest I’ve handed over the past several years. I have already paid much, much more than I’ve borrowed. If I make small payments, the account will stay on my credit indefinitely. Call me a thief, but I feel it best to just let it drop off my record and let them write off a loss. I just don’t care. I’m also likely to get sued over the balance of my car, though no one has threatened me with that yet. I suppose they have to auction the car first.

Judgments in Washington state will stay on your credit report for 10 years. Truth of the matter is, the minute I get another job, I’ll be in worse shape than I was at my last job — bleeding money, unable to afford rent and utilities, and even less able afford bankruptcy. Ten years doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore, especially since it’s already shot for the next seven. And I’m moving to a country with a different credit system. I don’t suppose I’ll really need credit, anyway. All I will want is a phone and eventually I might like to rent a room in some slummy house, which may not even require a credit check.

I’m a bit frustrated with my medical care once again. Several weeks ago, I suddenly developed a pea-sized hard lump on my big toe. In spite of its size, this lump was incredibly painful and I couldn’t even wear regular shoes. Even lying down on my side hurt if the inside of my foot touched the surface I was lying upon. I walked with a limp. I saw and felt the lump. My doctor saw it. Two of my friends saw it. Yet somehow it didn’t show up on an X-ray. Even more mysteriously, it stopped hurting and disappeared.

Signs point to gout, which would be odd as I don’t fit the profile. I don’t drink very much. I don’t meat. However, gout has been linked to chronic anemia (check) and hypothyroidism (check).

Not only did the mystery lump not show up in an X-ray, but my blood tests came back normal. I often feel like there are gremlins that follow me wherever I go just to mess around with my medical tests.

It went away, so the doctor says I shouldn’t be concerned, but I am in case it happens again. I think that my uric acid levels had returned to normal by the time I got the test as I had already had the lump at least three weeks before I got blood drawn. That’s really the only explanation I can come up with. A bunion wouldn’t have appeared that quickly, nor would it have vanished like that. Pea-sized masses of bone don’t vanish into nothing. Same with bone spurs, which wouldn’t have been on that part of the foot anyway. I have worn heels maybe 5 days in the past 10 years.

The worst was that the doctor implied that it was nothing at all.  I seem to be prone to this sort of thing. Odd “spells” of undiagnosable and painful conditions, and I’m so slow to go to doctor (either because of lack of money or insurance or my own tendency to dismiss my own needs) that nothing ever comes of anything. Story of my life, I suppose.

I will probably be doing some dog-sitting for a friend if I can get myself out of bed. I don’t really feel like getting out of bed even though I can’t sleep.

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Commence Freakout

There was more knocking at my door. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. Then there was knocking at my neighbor’s door. They did answer.

There was a lot of talking, and I didn’t hear it all. I hid in the darkness and crept to my door to listen. I spend most of my time in my living room which is at the back of the condo, so I don’t think they could see the lights on or any signs of life when they looked in from the parking lot.

I just heard bits and pieces, but enough to get an idea of what was going on.

“Well, we don’t really see her or talk to her. I saw her not too long ago, though.”

“When?”

“I think it was Monday. I used to see her in the mornings sometimes, but not so much lately.”

“<garble garble>, so the rental agency told us to come out and see what was going on. We just wanted to know if she’s still here. <garble garble> and we didn’t know if something happened to her or what.”

I’m actually glad my neighbor said he had seen me (which is true, I did see him a few days ago). Otherwise the landlords may have called the police or broken in. The last thing I want is for them to think I’ve been murdered or injured. Now they just know I’m an accidental deadbeat. As much as that sucks, it’s better than some alternatives. No one wants to be the bad landlord with a dead tenant that no one noticed. No one wants their tenant’s corpse to get eaten by a cat.

I thought I heard them mentioning a note, but I just went out there and there was nothing. Really, people? Why don’t you mail me a letter or leave me a voicemail? The last time I called them didn’t go so well, and I’m too anxious to do it again.

I know that I’m wrong for not calling them. It’s the right thing to do but I can’t do it. It’s painful for me to be like this. I hate it. I have spent my whole life putting my needs second, walking on eggshells for everyone else, living in fear of inconveniencing other people, and here I am being a huge inconvenience. I’m causing a lot of problems, not just with myself but with my landlord and rental agency.

When I was sure they were gone, I made the rounds calling transitional housing facilities again. I was calling them regularly and I’d had no luck, and calling them again today proved to be no different. They’re always either overflowing or they don’t answer their phones and they never call me back. I’ve called several. Once I get kicked out, then I am out of a home, probably for good. I will never have a home again without a lot of help that doesn’t seem to be available. Of all of the transitional places, only one sounds desirable, like I’d be able to get the help I need and get on my feet. One has truly bizarre requirements: they don’t take in anyone who has an open bankruptcy, owes a landlord money, has already received help from Housing Services, or has been evicted. What the hell kind of homeless people are they taking in?

Most of the transitional housing centers have a religious focus, which makes me a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t get here because of a lack of religion, and religion isn’t going to fix anything.

Anyone reading this blog probably has the same questions I do. I don’t know why I haven’t been evicted yet. I don’t know why no one has sent a deputy. I don’t know why I haven’t received an official eviction notice. I received a 3-day pay or vacate notice, but I didn’t pay and I didn’t vacate. So here I am. Friends keep telling me not to worry, that they have to notify me and that there must be documentation and court papers and certified letters and all kinds of crap that I haven’t received. But as we all know, nothing in my life goes the way it should. So yes, I am worried. And I feel inept. I haven’t worked towards paring down my belongings in a while. Off I go.

 

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Bloodletting

I really don't.

From PostSecret

I’ve spent most of the past few days working intensely on my NaNoWriMo “novel.” It is going to be much, much longer than the 50,000-word goal I set for myself. I initially planned  to write a memoirs in the vein of this blog, cataloging the past several years of my life and events that led to me losing pretty much everything. But it’s not about that at all. I haven’t even touched on that. I’ve written a fair amount about my bizarre upbringing, childhood bullies, the beginnings of my health problems, my mother’s illnesses, and her drastic change in personality after years of emotional abuse and physical disability. My NaNo profile is linked to in the right sidebar; just click on my Rebel badge. If you’re doing NaNo, you should be my writing buddy. I should hit 16,000 words before I go to bed tonight.

Today is the anniversary of my mother’s death, by the way. I’m trying to ignore it. Last year, I was quite sad because it was also election day, and she had only become an American citizen about three years before her death, and I remember helping her vote and how excited she was about getting to vote in the States for the first time.

I joined a small writing group for motivation to finish my book. The more I write, the more I’m terrified of having anyone I know read it. I’m realizing a number of things: my father is mentally ill. Very seriously mentally ill. I suspected this, but I never thought about it much. Every once in a while someone will say something, usually about someone they suspect to be mentally ill, and I will have a glimmer of a memory but I squelch it. As I write down the details of incidents that occurred in my household, I have to face them and admit what was going on. I have heard through only semi-reliable sources that two of my father’s siblings and his nephew (my cousin) were diagnosed with schizophrenia. That cousin lived with us briefly when I was about four years old (he was about 15) and there was definitely something wrong with him. He kept removing the batteries in my battery-operated toys and putting them in backwards. He told me repeatedly “This is the right way to put the batteries in” and would act bewildered when I told him he was wrong. If it was a joke, it went on a really long time, because he stayed with us at least a month, and this happened almost every day. He would sneak into my room while I was at preschool and move all my batteries around. That’s my only memory of him. He used a lot of cocaine and was in an institution for a long time and for all I know he still is. In addition to the two siblings that are rumored to be schizophrenic, another one of my father’s siblings changed her name and fled to South America. She abandoned her children and no one knows what became of her. Except for my cousin, these were all deceptively functional people: a doctor, a dentist, a real estate mogul.

My father’s mental illness doesn’t make him less of an abusive prick. I cut all ties with him over seven years ago. There is nothing that could go wrong in my life that he wouldn’t make abysmally worse.

So, the memories are flooding back and I wonder how I turned out semi-reasonable. I also have many of my high school journals (though I destroyed the ones I wrote before age 15) and it’s quite appalling the number of times I was punished for reacting logically to his bad behavior. A lot of this has altered the way I react to social situations and professional situations, the way I interact with strangers, and the ways that men scare me make me nervous.

I am rereading Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, which is part of my inspiration. I read it for the first time when I was about 18. It is the memoirs of a woman who had a rare form of cancer as a child and the surgery she had as a result left her disfigured. Lucy Grealy died of a heroin overdose in 2002. While I did not have cancer as a child, I had other illnesses that altered my appearance and I went through many of the same experiences. Some of her experiences are so similar to mine that it drains me to read. I was so engrossed in the book last night that I missed my bus stop on the way home from my writer’s group. Unfortunately, that also meant that I missed the last bus, so I could not transfer and had to walk over two miles through the ghetto, doing my best to ignore all the guys who called me “Shawty” and tried to chat me up. Two miles in my uncomfortable shoes with the soles half-off. It took me over an hour because a lot it was uphill, my shoes are in disrepair, and I have very short legs.

But enough of that. It is time for me to cuddle with my cat, crank some David Bowie, and get to 16,000 words.

I'm also kinda jealous of Mr. Bowie. That's a snuggly kitty.

I admit it --I'm jealous of this cat.

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I went to grad school and all I got were these awesome food stamps.

I'm so glad that they use a card now.

This week, most of my former classmates got their master’s diplomas in the mail. I got food stamps.

I have yet to receive my actual diploma, and I don’t know when or if I ever will. My last three terms, I had to take out short-term emergency loans because my regular loans just weren’t enough. They were expecting me to live on about $300 a month, so once my unemployment ran out, I started taking out emergency loans that upped my monthly “income” to $1100 or $1300. My situation was at its most dire my last term because that was when my car got repossessed and my electricity cut off. The problem with short-term loans is that you have to pay them back the following term. As the name implies, they are short-term loans. But if you run out of money and have to take out a short-term loan, chances are you are going to spend the short-term loan and then not have any more money once you pay back the loan after the quarter is over. So then you take out another short-term loan to pay off the last short-term loan. The cycle continues until graduation. You aren’t allowed to take out a short-term loan the quarter you graduate. I was desperate, so I lied. I took out my short-term loan as early as possible and I applied for graduation as late as possible. I finally got a job during my last term, but it just wasn’t enough.

Unfortunately, because of my bad loan habit and my medical bills (and maybe because of an incomplete I got in a class unrelated to my degree), they have a hold on my diploma, so I won’t be getting it until I pay them tons and tons of money. It’s okay. If anyone wants to call the university, they can confirm that I really did graduate. Though there is no foreseeable reason for anyone to call.

I am more excited about food stamps than I am about the degree. Because they took so long to approve my application, I got $108 to spend before October 31. It was quite a task, but I managed.

I have genetic insulin resistance. What that means is that for reasons unknown my body does not respond to normal amounts of insulin, so my pancreas overcompensates by secreting abnormally high levels of insulin nearly all the time. I have checked my blood sugar many times, and I have never once had a high reading. In fact, I am somewhat hypoglycemic (possibly because of the high insulin). My mother was the same, and she ended up with diabetes that ruined her life and killed her. My maternal grandmother was also the same. She, too, ended up with diabetes that ruined her life and killed her. The first time I got my insulin tested at age 24, my fasting level was 51 uU/ml. It should have been around 5. Insulin resistance is associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. My mother had type 1 diabetes, and I’m not sure how that relates to IR.

My doctor strongly advised me to go on a low-carbohydrate diet. I was doing well with that for a while, but when you live on food bank food, it’s difficult to stick to it. Carbs are cheap. My local food bank has four kinds of food: meaty, starchy, beany, and sweet. Meaty makes me vomit, starchy is kind of bad for me, sugary is really bad for me, and beany is just inadequate. I end up eating lots and lots of salted spaghetti. I haven’t been taking my medication, and I’ve been eating food that spikes my already-spiked insulin, so I’m gaining weight despite being hungry all the time and not having much to eat. I’m sure my insulin is through the roof again.

Nom nom nom.When I got food stamps before, I actually lost 20 lbs in about four months even though my caloric intake increased significantly. I was still eating too many starchy things, but I was eating a lot of vegetables, eggs, nuts, and tofu. I felt well and was getting plenty of exercise, which I haven’t been doing lately. I hope that my new food stamps will be a catalyst for me to get back on track and to a point where I care about myself again and can take steps towards regaining my health. I might even cook. It’s a bit sad that when I was working I did not have enough money for healthy food, but I do on food stamps. I get more with food stamps than I ever spent on food when I worked. I don’t buy cheap junk either. Sorry, Republicans. I guess this makes me a socialist bum. Go ahead and heckle. At my last job, I made less money than I was required to spend on rent and bills. I technically had no money for food unless I stopped paying for something else. That’s how I ended up with no phone and no electricity.

I became very sad at Trader Joe’s because every item I put in my cart made me wonder “Will I pack this when I move?”I still don’t know when I have to go. Or where to go.

 

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Freeloader

This shirt costs $20 on crookedmonkey.com. Does anyone who would wear it actually have $20? I sure dont.

This shirt costs $20 on crookedmonkey.com. Does anyone who would wear it actually have $20 to spend on cutesy t-shirts? I sure don't.

A friend took me to a concert last night as a belated birthday present. We went to see the bands Gossip, Men, and Champagne Champagne at The Showbox in downtown Seattle. Working or not, nearly every time I go to an evening event downtown, I end up doing the same stupid thing — I forget about parking. What usually happens is I put parking at the back of my mind, drive to the venue, drive around for 30 minutes trying to find a free spot and then give up and just pay $13. I don’t have $13, nor do I have enough gas to drive around looking for a place to park, so for the first time ever I remembered not to do this and I just used my stolen bus pass. Hooray for thievery.

It was difficult for me to go out as I’ve been severely depressed and I have not been up to face-to-face interaction with other humans. I dreaded going. Truth be told, I’d rather just stay home alone than have someone pay my way. I hadn’t been out for a fun night in a while, and I never even step outside except to go to the food bank, follow up on on my never-ending food stamps application, or to check my mail. I saw two friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, and it was good to catch up. One of them even bought me a drink. With my free ticket and my free drink, you can imagine my amusement when I saw the stamp they were giving concertgoers in the over-21 bar section:

You probably can't read it, but it says "Freeloader." Everyone got the same stamp.

You probably can't read it, but it says "Freeloader." Everyone got the same stamp, but I was probably the only one who felt special.

Then in yet another joke of the cosmos, the first song that Gossip performed was “Dimestore Diamond.” It’s on their latest album and I had never heard it.

Everybody knows the things she does to please
Low cut sweaters with her skirt above her knees
She's a dimestore diamond

Everybody knows just where she gets her clothes
A watercolor painting in a Renoir pose
She's a dimestore diamond

Everybody knows but no one can tell
A homemade haircut but she wears it well
She's a dimestore diamond

You can call her broke, you can call her poor
But everybody knows that she ain't cold no more
She's a dimestore diamond

Shines like the real thing
Real thing
Real thing
Dimestore diamond

Dimestore diamond

Gotta catch you one
Gotta catch you one one
Gotta catch you one

Gonna get you one
Gonna get you one one
Gonna get you one

The first group to perform was a hip-hop/dance group called Champagne Champagne, and the second group was the dance-punk group Men, fronted by JD Samson (who was in another one of my favorite bands Le Tigre). Both opening acts were great, and Gossip was amazing as usual. The positive energy actually made me feel better, when I was expecting it to drain me further. I still feel sick and I still feel tired, but I’m definitely in better spirits. The biggest downer was that I had to leave at the beginning of the encore because of the bus schedule. My friend had offered to drive me home, but I was already feeling guilty about everything else, so I was firm and took the bus.

I was less interested in music and social interaction than I usually am, but I had a good time and I am glad I went –even as a freeloader.

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Impasse

The Impasse by Stephen Adams

A friend asked me “What would you be doing if you could get any job you wanted, right now?” To my surprise, my mind went blank. Two months ago, two years ago, six years ago, even ten years ago, he could have asked me that question and I would have described my career goals in striking detail. I was asked that question all through high school, college, graduate school, and even while I was working at crappy low-level jobs and I always had an answer. Now I don’t. I can only guess that something in me snapped during my most recent of many awkward interviews.

I’m still not looking for a job. I don’t think most people understand why. I’m not even sure that I do. I only finished my master’s degree in June, so it may seem like I am giving up on my job search early. Master’s degree or not, this has been a fruitless search since 2003. My last two jobs (crappy as they were) ended abruptly and in the same fashion. Those weren’t the only times either. I have simply lost the ability to handle certain types of tasks. I also struggle without proper healthcare. Without my medication, my ability to function in the workplace is limited, and without decent pay, my access to my prescribed medication is also limited. And I am far beyond frustrated with working at low-level, low-pay jobs outside of my skill set. If I hadn’t had one job in my career at a well-known and reputable company, I would probably just think I was a moron. But no, once upon a time, I was given a chance, and I did a good job and I was well-liked. And then my job was outsourced. That was the only brief glimmer of success in one very long and dark period. It wasn’t a great success, anyway. I was still low-income and stressed about money, but at least I felt accomplished.

I have been battling a rather bad respiratory infection for a while now. I’ve complained about it, I know. When I lie in bed I can hear my chest creak like an old staircase. Sometimes it sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies. Sometimes it makes both of those noises at the same time. I cough and choke until I see stars. It’s difficult to laugh. This may be difficult to believe, but I really do laugh a lot.

My landlord has still not taken action against me. It’s confusing, but it’s a relief. It’s also a source of much anxiety. I have not made much progress in packing or purging my belongings. I’m sick and exhausted.

I am currently working with the Department of Social and Health Services to find out if I can get some medical attention and possibly a case worker. It’s all downhill from here. I have also re-opened my food stamps application, and I hope I can get something on that end within the next few days.

I’m getting a bit frustrated because I am lacking some basic items that most people (including myself) often take for granted. I need dish soap. I need pants that both fit and don’t have holes. I want fresh food and a new toothbrush. I have decided to sell my car once I move into transitional housing. Unfortunately, my car insurance got canceled and my car is likely to be repossessed for the second time this year. I can’t do anything about that right now, but I can maybe find some clothes. There is a community clothing closet in the next town over, and I may try to stop by and see if I can find something. I also have some clothes that don’t fit me anymore, and I would be glad to donate. I don’t need much, unless I get a job. I really just want something that isn’t falling apart. The soles of my shoes are halfway off, and every time I walk outside I have to stop periodically to shake out the gravel and other debris. I was able to buy toilet paper after selling some things online. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to sell online because I do not get paid until the items ship (at least when I sell on Amazon.com). If I have no money, it’s a bit difficult to ship things.

I was able to get cat food during my last trip to the food bank, so my little feline friend will be well-fed for the time being. She’s not a terribly picky eater as long as I give her dry food.

I can only hope that my situation is temporary, and I will find my hope and drive again. It’s not like me to be a leech, and I’ve lost the energy to be a good scavenger.

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Stop This Rain (or Poverty-Induced Nightmares, Part 2

The repo incident, continued from here.

I don’t know how I fell asleep after that, but I did. Sleep is my escape. On the morning of April 6, I woke up earlier than usual because I had to take the bus all the way to work without using the Park & Ride like normal. Not having my car added an extra 30 minutes to my commute each way. I was already a partial bus commuter, so I didn’t have to make too big a change, but I still spent well over three hours each day on buses. Ghetto buses. I used my breaks at work to call the car loan company to figure out what to do.

When I first called, they told me that I would have to pay off the entire remaining balance on the car in order to get it back. That’s on top of about $400 in repossession fees and more in late fees. There was no way for me to get that kind of money in the time they allotted me. I reminded them that I had told them at least twice in advance that I would pay them in full on or before April 7. I also told them that I had tried to pay on April 3, both online and over the phone. I had tried to contact them at a reasonable hour, but I was thwarted by their business hours and my time zone. I reminded them that I had been unemployed for 15 months and that I had still managed to pay them on time every month for more than a year, but I’d had some additional difficulties and I fell behind after a long struggle.

The representative was sympathetic, and said she would see if they would make an exception for me. She was unable to tell me immediately the exact amount I needed to pay to get my car back.

I called back day after day. The silliest thing about it was that if they had actually listened to me, they would have already had their money, but because of their own haste, I was just sitting on it. Towards the end of the week, the representative at the car loan company told me that I could have my car back if I paid $1500. I was initially about $700 behind, and my third car payment had been due on April 12. They wanted the three full car payments and $450 in late fees and repossession fees. I hadn’t spent much money from my student loans, and I was working, so I was able to come up with $1500 on my next payday (during the week of April 13). I would have had to ignore other bills, but I could do it. I was also unable to buy books for school, which is what a large portion of that money was for. Technically, it was illegal to use a federal student loan to pay for something completely unrelated to school. I just wanted the car back so I could put the ugly mess behind me, and that was the only money I had.

After a repossession, they will not allow you to pay with a check or credit card, and the representative told me that the fastest way to pay would be through Western Union. There was a Western Union kiosk at a grocery store that was a ten-minute walk from my office, so I went there during my lunch break.

Prior to wiring the money at the main counter, I had to call Western Union on a phone at the customer service desk. When a customer picks it up, the phone calls Western Union automatically. It’s like the Bat-Phone only it connects you to the depths of customer service hell.

As soon as I picked up the phone, I was given a long list of automated warnings and instructions. I was told not to send money to any Nigerian princes or to anyone who may have informed me that I won a foreign lottery I had never entered. The message went on a long time, describing various ways that I could be scammed and warning me not to send money if I was in a situation that resembled any of their examples. After all of that, I finally got to speak to a customer service representative.

I asked the representative if I could give her my bank account information and wire the money that way. She said that there was no problem with that. She asked all of her questions (which took about 15-20 minutes), and then she gave me some kind of confirmation number. I went to the main desk with my confirmation number, and they told me that they only take cash. I did not have $1500 plus fees in cash. I couldn’t withdraw that much from my account in one day. I wanted to have the money wired directly from my account. I called back on the Bat-Phone. I’m not sure why. I guess I wanted to plead.

I listened to the automated warning about Nigerian princes again. I answered all the ridiculous questions again. I told the customer service representative what I wanted, and she said that she had to transfer me to a different department. She did –and I had to answer all of the questions and listen to the stupid message a third time. I had been doing this for about an hour at this point, I was supposed to be at work, and I had initially predicted it would take no more than twenty minutes.

I gave the next representative all of my bank account information, but then the bank refused to authorize the transaction. I realized that $1500 (actually $1564 with the fees) was an uncharacteristically large amount for me to withdraw at once. I begged the representative to stay on the line just a few minutes until I could call my bank on my cell phone because I was really pressed for time and I simply did not have 20 more minutes to call back and answer all those questions again. She agreed.

I called my bank and they verified my identity and lifted the hold. I was free to spend $1564. I spoke again to the Western Union representative and said “Okay, the bank lifted the hold! Can you run it again?” She said “no.”

“What?!”

“I’m sorry, your transaction declined, please call back another time.”

“But there was just a simple hold because it’s a large amount of money! It’s fine now!”

Again, she refused to process my transaction. I was pissed. I told her that I had just spoken with my bank. In fact, she probably heard me on the phone with my bank because she was just sitting there while I was talking on my cell phone. She continued to refuse to request the wire. I got very angry at this point and demanded to talk to her supervisor. Her supervisor came on the line and immediately started asking me the same questions I had already answered multiple times. Once she got to the Nigerian prince stuff, I just hung up.

I picked up the phone again and once the automated message started again I just hit zero zero zero zero zero zero zero until the zero button just stuck. I slammed the phone down so hard I think I broke it.

I stormed out of the store and walked towards my office. I glanced at my cell phone to see what time it was, and I saw that I had missed a call and had a voice mail. The voice mail message was from a man at Western Union. He asked me to return his call in regards to some money I had just transferred. I called back at the number he gave me, and I got through to someone right away. I gave them some basic information, and they told me to disregard the call because no money had gone through.

There was a payday loan establishment close to my office, and they had a sign out front that said that they would send money. I figured it was worth a shot. I was already late in returning from my lunch break and probably going to get in trouble at my brand new job. Might as well be shot for a sheep as a lamb, as my mother would always say.

I was a bit dismayed that the payday loan office also used Western Union, but I really just wanted to send the money off. I never knew it would be so difficult to give money away.

The process at the payday loan place was simpler, but once again the transaction was denied — this time for insufficient funds. I knew the money was there. It had been there when I had the other representative on the phone, and I had just lifted the hold, so what now?

I called the bank again. My bank gives account balance once you enter in your account number, before you ask to speak to a representative. There was over $1500 missing from my account.

I called Western Union customer service to tell them that they had somehow wired my money after telling me that they hadn’t, and I wanted a confirmation number so that I could give it to the car loan company. They asked me some questions and went through their records, and told me that they had not sent any money on my behalf. I even gave them the original confirmation number I was given the first time I called. They said that my original transaction had been canceled and that they absolutely had not wired any money from my bank account.

“But clearly you have. My money has vanished.

They told me over and over again that they had not sent my money. I called the bank again. They verified that Western Union had definitely sent my money, and they gave me a transaction number. The number did not help me deal with Western Union, but was good for my own verification. I called Western Union again and told them that my bank had verified the transaction and gave me a transaction number. This may be obvious, but my bank’s transaction number did nothing to prove or disprove any of Western Union’s claims. The bank’s transaction number could not double as Western Union’s confirmation number, and was no good to my car loan company.

I called the car loan company. They told me that they had not received any money from me, and actually could not claim the money from Western Union until I provided them with a Western Union confirmation number. I called Western Union again. And again. And again. A few times, I got disconnected. A few times I hung up to call either the bank or the car loan company again. Several times, Western Union would transfer me to an automated system that would ask me to enter my confirmation number — which was what I was calling to get from them. If I pressed zero, the call would be disconnected. If I just waited and didn’t enter anything, the call would be disconnected. I was then forced to start over. Every single time I had to start over, I would have to answer the same set of questions and tell them my name, the spelling of my name, my address, my phone number, the name of my bank, and my account number. I did this over and over and over for three hours.

I wanted to die. Or kill someone. Or both. I had been trying to send money (or at least find the money I may or may not have sent) for three hours, all the while missing work and (possibly worse) missing pay and annoying my new boss.

I called Western Union one last time. I don’t know what the problem had been the other many times I had called, but the woman I spoke to was finally able to give me the confirmation number to give to the car loan office. I asked her why it was such a huge ordeal to get such a simple thing, and she had no idea. Before I got in touch with her, I had spoken to at least 13 different Western Union employees who had no clue about anything.

I called the car loan office to give them the number –and once again it was after 5pm their time, and they were closed.

That night when I got home, I checked my e-mail with my stolen wi-fi to find out that my job had cut benefits for temporary employees.


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