For Want of $5.00

You would think that after 67 years I finally would have gotten used to Daylight Savings Time. Fact: I haven’t. It is a cognitive complexity that I still haven’t adjusted to. Further complexity: people with severe autoimmune diseases often have trouble time-shifting. That’s a biological factor, as opposed to simply grasping the IDEA of now-it’s-almost-daylight/now-it-isn’t. Mankind should not mess with God’s program.

It’s predicted to be a pretty nice day today: “Feels like” 40 degrees, no rain, light breeze. Tomorrow we’re going to get blasted with another snowstorm. My judgment of the various published forecasts is that Syracuse will get nine inches, which will bring us up to the season’s average of 123 inches. After that we go into overtime. We’re 29 inches ahead of where we were this time last year, which is part of the reason why we feel so put-upon.

Saturday is predicted to be 38 degrees, 30% probability of precip, winds at 11, and so the big question: is that, or is that not, good enough weather to go to the St. Patricks’ Day parade? More than thirty years ago, news reporter Nancy Duffy—demonstrably Irish—and some of her friends decided that Syracuse needed a parade so she set out and created one. It is now reported to be the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the northeast. One year the weather was so good that my face got sunburned. Other years—stay in bed. And what will this year be? March is like a 14-year-old girl—throwing her arms around your neck and loving you one day, pitching a hissy fit the next.

There are three posts I would have liked to have written in the past week. The first started Friday morning when I called to schedule Medicaid transportation to my doctor’s appointment on Monday and got told I was ineligible. WTF? I’ve been eligible since 1991!

The Medical Answering Services dorkhead told me to call the number “on the back of your Medicaid card.” There is no such thing as a “Medicaid card.” There is a county benefit card, which covers Welfare, Food Stamps and Medicaid. So I called the Medicaid case worker, who didn’t answer her phone. This was urgent so I followed the prompt and pressed O. That didn’t work. It never does. So I called back and got a dorkhead who said he didn’t know what to do. Yea, county! Go, county! If a Clerk I is getting paid $11.00/hour, how much do you figure we’re paying this guy to not know what to do?

So he gives me the “front desk” in the Chronic Care Unit. I call the number and a recording tells me there is no such number. So I call something else and somebody else looks up my case and transfers me to—wait for it—my new caseworker! I am always and forever having to deal with new caseworkers at the county. I have no idea where they go or why they go, but I do know that I am always having to start over with newbies.

The man who didn’t know what to do called me by my first name, so I asked him his name so we could be on an equal basis. He said his name was “Mr. Smith” so I crisply replied, “And I am Ms Woodlen.” This is one of the things I really hate: the disrespect for citizens who are poor. I am not poor because I am lazy, stupid or just won’t try; I am poor because I am sick, and to have some youngster who is two generations younger and a heck of a lot dumber than I am treat me with condescension really makes me mad. Us poor folk get treated rudely by county employees on a weekly basis.

Am I not a citizen? Do I not vote? Am I not deserving of being treated with the same courtesy that the government employee expects for himself? Uh, no. Not in Onondaga County. The executives make no attempt to train employees to be respectful to the citizens they are supposed to be serving, quite possibly because the executives also have no respect for “The People.”

So the new caseworker, who is young enough to be my granddaughter, says “blah-blah-blah, Anne.” To which I reply “blah-blah-blah, Melissa,” which turns her cold. This is America, and we are equals, and I will not be submissive just because I’m poor. There are now so many of us who are poor that one of these days we’re all going to stop being submissive together. The revolution is not far off.

So Melissa tells me that she sent me a letter saying I have to make a “spend-down” to continue receiving Medicaid. The spend-down is $5.00 a month. Yepper, yepper, yepper. I am denied transportation to the doctor’s because I haven’t paid $5.00 to the government. Last time I checked, Medicaid transportation cost $27. One-way. I figure that my trips to receive medical care cost the taxpayers about $700 a month—and all that treatment is to be denied because I failed to pay $5.00.

And why did I fail to pay? Because I didn’t understand the letter. It was about one and a half pages, and it jumped all over the place and didn’t make any sense. So what did I do? I gave it to my Power of Attorney (POA) and asked him what I should do about it. He read it and said it didn’t apply to me—the county sends us poor folk a lot of letters that don’t apply to us. They don’t screen their output and only send it to the people it affects; they send it to everybody receiving benefits. How wasteful!

So my friendly local POA tells me I can throw out the letter, and I do. Now it has come back to bite me. This freaking letter was read by me—a woman with an I.Q. of 140—and my POA, who has a doctorate, and neither of us understood it. DO YOU REALLY THINK IT’S OUR FAULT? Melissa-the-newbie thinks it is. She gives me a load of crap BECAUSE I DIDN’T CALL HER! When I point out that it was a very poorly written letter that didn’t make any sense, she doesn’t apologize.


Well, that’s 1054 words, and I try to keep my posts down to 1000 words, figuring there’s a limit to how much of your time you’re willing to give over to listening to me, so I’ll quit now. Besides, it’s 8:30 a.m. and I need breakfast, Daylight Savings Time or not.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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