Here’s what happened.
I wake up. Shower. Get dressed. Look outside. It’s cloudy, but it doesn’t look like rain. Have maybe toast and some water for breakfast. Probably should have some juice. Don’t. I sit in front of the unit for a while, check out what’s going on. Not much. They say the economy is getting better, which of course means that it just hasn’t got any worse. The rate of infection is up. It’s always up. Go out to do my stuff. Of course, I don’t have a job. Nobody has “JOBS” any more. I do have a government-regulated “Civil Task” to perform. I don’t even remember what it was that day. Janitor work or filing or medical evac. Oh, that’s the worst! I’d rather snorkel in a septic tank than drive one of those red vans. Wait. I do remember. I reshelve books at the library. Then, of course, I have to go to the Department. Five hours of work, three and a half hours of lineups just to say, Yes I did it, No I had no problems, Yes I would like more tomorrow. Please. Thank you.
After, I go for coffee. To relax. Just a nice warm Tuesday evening on a patio, in the sunset, with a book. I sit there for hours, nursing maybe three coffees way past their time. Around eleven, I get up to go. I give my card to the cashier and wait for him to debit my account. I play with the napkins on the counter as I wait. That’s when he rejects my card. So. I go through the regular, Oh damn, I know there’s money in there, I just got credited today, blah blah blah… Can I get you tomorrow?
Now, I go there usually once a day, at the very least four times a week. They know me. I’m a REGULAR. So. Can I get you tomorrow?
And he says-
Sorry. I can’t do that.
What do you mean? I’m here every day. I’m not going to stiff you. I’ll pay you to-morrow.
I’m sorry. I can’t do that.
Buddy, COME ON! It’s only FIFTEEN bucks. It’s not the end of the world.
I’m sorry. You don’t have the funds. The computer has just frozen your account.
JESUS! So what am I supposed to do now?
I believe you’ll be fined.
FINED? But I just got credited TODAY!
I’m sorry. You’ll have to take it up with your credit branch.
Off I go to the auto branch and I jam my card into the machine. I press the buttons. Beep. Beep. Beepbeepbeepbeep… According to the machine, I have no funds. I owe funds. I DID NOT OWE FUNDS THIS MORNING!!! I ask for my card back. It won’t give me my card.
Daylight hits, I’m up, I’m ready. Let’s straighten this OUT! Off I go to the Department armed with my ID and a stomach full of adrenalin. I want JUSTICE!
An hour and a half line up. I can see the clerk at the end of the line, this small man, sitting at his clean, non-threatening, grey metal desk, the man who will give me back my money. My savior. My mind is racing with possible scenarios, I’m sorry sir, it just was a computer error, I’m so sorry sir, here’s your new card, I’m so terribly sorry sir, may we compensate you for this horrible inconvenience?
I’m sorry sir, the computer is telling me that you are owing.
Damn. OK. Fine. It says I owe. I DON’T owe. Let’s look in the system and find out what went wrong.
Nothing went wrong sir. Apparently, the Department had previously overcompensated you, so the surplus amount has now been deducted from your account.
But… they didn’t! I worked it out. I got what I was owed. Exactly! Please. Just check the system.
Well, sir, you must have made an error in your calculations because the system is telling me that you owe.
Why didn’ t anyone mention this OVERCOMPENSATION to me when I was here yesterday?! I tried to use my card last night for a COFFEE and now I’ve been fined because NO ONE TOLD ME!! Can we please just look in the system!
And then he smiles at me, that “I can deal with you pleasantly forever but I will never ever help you in million years” smile-
Sir, I’m sorry, but… if you’ll permit me to say so, if your financial situation is so precarious that such a small amount can affect you that greatly, perhaps the real problem is that YOU need to manage your budget better.
My hands are around his head and slamming it into the corner of that non-threatening gray metal desk it feels like the speed of light and all I can think of is that This isn’t going to help and I ram his head into that desk again and again and again and he doesn’t fight back and nobody seems to be stopping me and it’s so easy I keep pulling his head up and DOWN! and up and DOWN! and This isn’t going to help and DOWN!! DOWN!! DOWN!! DOWN!! DOWN!! DOWN!!
He died. I think he died pretty soon. I don’t know. I just kept doing it to him over and over again and nobody stopped me. The whole room just watched. No sound. Eyes everywhere. All on me.
It felt so GOOD!
So here I am.