I don't watch tv or follow the reality shows, but even I know who "Balloon Boy" is because I have facebook and an AOL welcome screen. No offense to the avid followers of the Balloon family, but I was tired of hearing about it when I first heard it. I'm thinking that for a great reality show, we need to follow the lives of several lower middle-class families that have genuine need, but don't qualify for state help. Watch them beg for services. Hear the evil and snippy tone of the people they must call on a daily basis. Figure out how much time is spent advocating and getting nothing. Oh! Also relay to the viewers how just thinking about how one has to call, making calls and waiting for calls is almost as stressful as the sickness itself.
Watch them go without needed care on a regular basis. Then watch them pay their taxes so that the "less fortunate" get a better, more comprehensive coverage for free. Watch them jump through a bunch of hoops and answer personal questions so they can find out that they do NOT qualify. Or watch providers "just" charge a nominal fee based on the idea that they are the only expense aside from food and shelter. Other bills and other providers? Not my problem, baby.
Act surprised as these families turn militant. They'll either petition for more services to be covered by the government for EVERYONE, or they'll lobby that the entire system get shut down, because they're the victims of it. I would posit to you that the first reaction is the more common, but the most short-sighted. I would also posit to you that when you're in a bad situation, you don't bloody well care about rights so much, so it's understandable that these families are asking for SOMETHING to show for the process they've ALREADY been through, for having to have given up the information they have ALREADY shared in the hopes of getting care. When you have already been humiliated to the point where you're bingeing and vomiting and your hair is falling out and your heart is skipping beats, how much worse could it get?
So what if you want my social security number and a description of our embarrassing problem? There you go. I know you're a petty bureaucrat with less education than the average DMV worker as evidenced by the silly "empowering" posters on your wall, but if you're the only gatekeeper I can find to answer my calls and grant me an appointment, I guess I'm spilling my guts.
There you go. I tried to keep things together and look like a respectable citizen. Now you have my social security number, family income and now you know everything about me. There is nothing hidden from you. I have bared my very innermost hurt here. Can I have help now?
No. It's always a few more things that are needed.
More paperwork. Wait to hear back from some guy. I'll call you when the paperwork is ready. Quit calling me. Call this other guy... sorry I can't help you... here's his number...
Other guy: No, um, I'm so glad you took time off work to make this appointment and waited for two weeks while things fell apart at home so you could attend, but you're in the wrong place. This is the number you need to call. (On and on it goes... several false leads, rabbit trails, re-explaining the embarrassing problem over and over and over and over. Finally... here's a new number!) Yes, I know it's the first number and those people referred you here. But you need to use the following medical words in this order to them, and you will receive services:
Bibbity bobbity boo.
The really frightening thing is that sometimes using the magic words ACTUALLY WORKS SOMETIMES. A little. You must use them in the right order and in their clinical context. Somehow, using the magic words will open doors faster than "Open Sesame" if you call just the right person and the stars are aligned properly and you are wearing red.
No, these aren't really the magic words... I fought hard for the real magic words and will be renting hotel conference rooms over the next six months to impart them to people so I can help them out. I think I'll charge $1,000 a person but I'll serve lunch with it, so it will be a "super-bonus value."
Yes, I'm kidding. But no, I'm not kidding that my family is going through "stuff" right now. I'm also not kidding when I relate to you that dealing with semi-governmental agencies is enough to make you need services if you didn't already to begin with.
I used to be a reporter. Not a big-time reporter for a huge conglomerate, but a reporter nonetheless. I did the City Commission thing, covered the court beat, the police report, the assorted stories around town. I've dealt with hostile people. I can play phone tag with the best of them. But, you know, even though technically "the press" have no more rights than the average person (it's true!), I'd at least manage to get an answer or a "no comment" to about any question within a week. Tell the guy answering the phone that you're a reporter from the Name of Backwoods Paper and watch people jump. (It's amusing, really.)
But this running in circles and being continually disrespected by everyone? I think being lower middle class sucks.