I walked through the door of the free Legal Clinic and gave my name to the receptionist who added me to a very, very long list. He waved in the general direction of the waiting area. I searched for a chair that would allow me to stretch my legs and protect my aching, swollen feet at the same time. I had just worked 3 jobs in 2 days and I was there because I wanted this madness to end.
I brought my book, knowing anything free was going to take a while to get. One by one, names were called, people went through the little door. Surprisingly, no one came out. Undeterred, I focused my attention on not falling asleep and on the powerful words of Mr. King. Stephen, not Martin Luther.
Finally it was my turn. I entered a tiny office that smelled of stale sweat, and old booze along with the pungent odor of cigarette soaked clothes. I sat across from a young man, named Gordon; a law student. He looked as tired as I felt. He barely looked up as he pointed to the chair in front of his desk.
An interview started; why was I there, what did I expect the Clinic to do, what other avenues have I tried. He expected brief answers. I do not do brief very well but I gave it a shot. He kept getting my name wrong. He finally asked me to expand on why I was there when his cell phone rang. Well, it buzzed. He spoke into it briefly then hung up. I hadn’t lost my rhythm at all. He hasn’t looked at me once.
He shuffled papers, yawned openly, blew his nose and asked me questions I already answered and in a bored voice too, I might add.
He was getting a glazed look in his eyes. I asked him a question. He didn’t answer me. Keep in mind I had been at that place for 3 hours already. I was anxious about going and this wasn’t helping. I was feeling some tension and I frantically picked at my hangnails. I felt stupid and in the way. He got my name wrong again. I asked him if he had the right file.
I said his name so he would look me in the eye. He did finally. “This may be just another case to you or another stat you need for the funding of this clinic, but I assure you this is the most important thing in my life right now and I resent the fact you are ignoring just how important it is.”
“If I was paying you, would it be different? Is it because I am not a human to you with major problems that someone like you is supposed to fix? Does your knowledge make you superior to me? I work hard to empower myself, and take care of my family and just keep going. Because of this legal issue, I have lost power in my life. I need an expert who would be there to give that power back to me and my family. I didn’t expect to be demeaned and have my self-confidence whittled away by the very person who is supposed to be dedicated to help. me.”
None of it happened though. Yet. Don’t be mad at me. I plan on going to the Legal Clinic (as soon as a day off I have coincides with when they are open)where I truly expect to be treated with contempt, much like I outlined above. Based on my past experiences with Legal Aid and a private lawyer, indifference is what I will face. This is a good exercise for me or even therapy; create the scenario and it helps to be just about ready for anything.
I want to stop working so many jobs, soon it will be down to two but I will still have long, long hours. I want the family home that my daughter and I do not live in, sold. My ex has everything. Everything. I want child support every month. I want food on the table. I want bus fare for Carly and gas and repairs for our car. I want furniture for fuck’s sake. I want what is fair. I want to spend time with my daughter instead of working 7 days a week, 14 hour days.
I’ll make it, I always do. I say this more to myself then to readers.
What started all this? Today I saw a woman I used to be very good friends with while my ex and I were still together. That would be almost 20 years I knew her. She and my other friends all encouraged me to leave him and as soon as I did, they disowned me. Blessing though really. Bad friends. Anyway she was ahead of me at the check out with her $300 shoes and her $300 purse and her $300 tally at the register. There I was in the shoes I just wore to my job at Superstore ($15) that don’t fit because my feet are so swollen, my Winners $10 pants covered with dust and stains from the job and my sweat soaked $3 white shirt from Value Village. Glad I left the red vest with “Ask Me” in huge letters on the back in the car. My cart consisted of lettuce, a cucumber, salad dressing, ground beef, burger buns and peanuts (a treat for Carly).
I didn’t notice her at first until she walked over and looked into my cart. I don’t usually pay attention to people at the checkout but her shoes were something. After the second time she approached me, this time to look at the gum, I finally realized who she was and looked AT her. She was looking back at ME then she deliberately turned her head away from me. Next she showed me her back. My ex goes to her place and has dinner with her husband and family at least once a week.
This is the third time I’ve met someone I used to know from my former life. It all ends the same. Funny how it seems they want me to feel ashamed, take away from my self and “put me in my place”. They have no idea that I feel so much better knowing I am away from that crowd and their narrow-mindedness. I haven’t missed them at all. They knew me then and are missing out on the person I am now. I, on the other hand, am missing out on nothing. They have money, I have happiness.
“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” Lennon/McCartney 1968
Empower, enable, filled to capacity. I will not fall. – Marie Boomer
Thanks, dear readers, for letting me vent. Feel free to let me have it.