Minor emergencies do not cause harm to large groups of people, property or finances. They do cause enough harm to individuals to interfere with general health and daily productivity. Apparently, the general health and productivity of an individual is not serious enough of an emergency in medical or financial terms to warrant the immediate assistance of doctors, financial institutions or government programs.
Over the years, I have had multiple small emergencies, or what I deemed emergencies, that I felt justified in asking for help. This includes long-term unemployment, homelessness, mental & emotional distress, medical need and, most recently, dental anguish. At no time has the bureaucracy of the town or city that I was living in moved faster than the proverbial snail’s pace. The idea that an individual of society needs this assistance within the week or even within the same day is anathema to bureaucrats.
When you go to the emergency room, this usually indicates that something is bad enough that you are not able to wait for your regular doctor. What happens? You have to stop and fill out so many forms that it takes more time to complete them than it does for the doctor to actually examine you. After you have filled out the forms, you wait. It doesn’t matter that you are in agony, or are spilling your guts every few minutes. Since you aren’t bleeding copiously, you can wait. And wait, and wait. Do they give you a cover for your mouth if you came in sick? No, because you are still up walking around, therefore you must not be too bad off. Never mind that what you have is usually contagious and you have now infected everyone else in the waiting room. If you are in severe pain, they ask you to rate it on a scale of one to ten. Then they take your answer with a grain of salt, because “everyone rates their pain higher than it is”. After the nurse takes your blood pressure, oxygen level and heart rate, you are politely asked to wait in the waiting room for a doctor to become available. This can take only a few minutes or as long as several hours. By this time, whatever your reason for coming in to the emergency room, you are becoming emotional distressed as well. Hence, tempers begin to flare and words begin to be spoken in a loud and obnoxious manner. Why do the staff always look and act so surprised?
Suppose you have reached a point in your life that your mental and/or emotional limits have not only been reached, but shattered beyond your personal capabilities to put them back together again. Your work doesn’t pay enough to go to a shrink, so you try the local clinic. Once again, they hand you a stack of papers, with requisite documentation and set an appointment that is so far down the road that you will most likely be in jail from assaulting the next moron that pushed your button. You are now stretched to the point that your work is suffering so bad your boss is breathing down your neck, which adds to the stress levels. You are beginning to worry that you won’t have a job within 24 hours let alone by the time your appointment comes around. This makes you even pissier at home, which ticks everyone else off, leading to a lovely little cycle of repeating and escalating emotional upheaval. You then bring all that built up stress back to work and start the cycle all over again. This cycle generally leads to unemployment. Your temper flares and you begin to say words in a loud and obnoxious manner. Why do people always look and act so surprised?
Should you be unemployed for more than a few weeks, you begin to feel stress, worry and panic. How am I going to make the rent? How will I pay the bills? How will I get food? Why won’t anyone hire me??? So you finally break down and go to the local Family Services to ask for help. They calmly hand you a stack of papers, usually 10 pages or more, explain what all documentation you will need; rental agreement, last 3 bank statements (explain any “unusual” spending. Never mind that you bought unnecessary stuff because you weren’t expecting to be unemployed), last 3 check stubs with YTD, all currently unpaid bills, Kelly Blue Book value of your vehicle(s), as well as the same information for every adult in your home (even though you are not related and/or they are not benefiting from the program) and have you set up an appointment. Then you read the date on the appointment and realize that it is the middle of the next month. Since you are low on money, you won’t be able to pay the rent. You are so panicky that you will be homeless by the time of your appointment that you begin to lose your temper and words are spoken in a loud and obnoxious manner. Why do the staff always look and act so surprised?
If you have been unemployed long enough and delayed asking for help, then there is a strong chance that you have become homeless. Depending on where you live and how helpful your friends & family are, this is not quite as devastating as it could be. If you don’t have the friends/family option, then you need to find a shelter. Once you have located the shelter, you stand in line and wait. If you didn’t get there early enough in the morning, then you will most likely be sleeping on the sidewalk that night. But don’t think you can sleep in front of the shelter…that is not allowed. If you were lucky enough to actually get signed up, then they hand you a stack of papers to fill out, detailing pretty much the same as family services. The only difference is that they don’t expect the documentation to go along with the forms. Then you wait some more. You wait for the shower, you wait in line for minimal amounts of food, you wait for the laundry room…..you wait for someone to rob you. During all of this waiting, you have to figure out how to look your best so that you can look for work. By now you are so desperate that you are willing to take anything as work. And I do mean ANYTHING. As a man, this isn’t quite so dangerous. As a female, all that I can say is good luck. You are also under a time limit on how long you can be in the shelter. No options by the time that limit is reached(?), then you are back on the streets. Since employers won’t hire someone without a permanent residence, you haven’t been given any call backs, because they have nowhere to call. Your temper flares and words are spoken in a loud and obnoxious manner. Why do the staff always look and act so surprised?
In my current situation, I am unemployed, have massive amounts of bills to pay, have both mental & emotional disabilities (which my state doesn’t accept for their programs) and am in need of having my teeth pulled. First, I went to seek help from a program I have worked with before, but they weren’t open that day. Just my luck. Then I contacted Family services for help. They don’t have dental assistance for adults over 18. But, they gave me the number for the county free clinic. It is not free and they only do dental one day a week. Won’t be able to get me in till the 3rd week of November. Finally broke down and went to the emergency room. Followed the procedure that I laid out in the e-room paragraph, only to be asked, asked! Mind you, “Do you think the pain is being caused by the bad tooth?” In order to get something for the pain and infection, I tearily agreed without saying a word (not trusting myself to be civil). I was then given an antibiotic and some “strong” painkillers to use until the infection was brought under control. I was finally able to get a hold of the program director that I have worked with before, and have been given permission to seek out a dentist. So I called the last dentist I used, explained to the chirpy receptionist what was going on and was given an appointment on the 9th of October. For a consultation. Not for any actual work to be done. Just x-rays and an explanation of what the dentist thinks I should do. Then the next available opening is not until the 24th of November. And that is only if the dentist is willing to do what I want. If I am lucky, I will be toothless by the end of the month. If not, then I will be at least minus a partial tooth and trying to figure out how to get the rest of them removed against dental advice. If you have ever felt this amount of tooth pain, then you know that I may end up making the staff practice their surprised looks and act sometime in the near future.
For now I hurry up and wait.