By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
The social worker was a bit disillusioned with humanity and her job. She was young, early thirties; she had seen examples of poverty and desperation most of us cannot relate to; she had reported child abuse, and other violent situations. She had honestly and earnestly tried to make a difference, and, to her credit, had.
But after a few years, the woman had dealt with enough able-bodied deadbeats and freeloaders who had no intention of getting off the Governmental dole. She became realistically cynical about her job.
Fortunately, her cynicism was the “humorous” variety; this is the only kind that can sustain persons who see things as they are, and persevere. As evidence of this fact, she shared the following anecdote:
“I had to visit a couple to help them fill out paperwork to get more services paid for by taxpayers. It bothered me. They had five children before they married, and apparently the marriage was really only to get services. Three more children, and every time, they applied for anything and everything they could get, as ‘the more babies, the more money’ rule applied—and it did.
“I had my sermon ready for the next visit. I got out of my car, and was met in the yard by the husband. He was wearing worn out blue jeans, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. His shirt was unbuttoned, his ugly pot belly was exposed. He grinned, and, accentuated by the stubble around his oral orifice, his dingy teeth made me shudder. ‘Mustang Sally!’ he greeted, as he undressed me with his eyes. He calls me that, though he knows I hate it. His wife and some of the children came out.
‘Zeb, we’re missing Jerry Springer,’ she said. But she greeted me, and got down to business.
“‘Business’ was to fill out welfare forms. It’s always amazes me, how some people learn how to navigate the system, and know what to ask for—in some cases, demand—from bureaucratic institutions. But we did the paperwork. The wife did most of this. I’m not sure the husband would know how to pass gas, much less read.
“I suggested to them, they needed to tend to the ‘at home’ things. They were spreading the payouts and services pretty thin, and using them the wrong way for the wrong things. I warned them, they could not depend on help that was abused. The wife thanked me, signed what she had to sign, and took her brood back inside to watch more trash television.
“Zeb said, ‘Gee, ma’am, I’m sorry about Jerry. The little woman’s hopin’ to be on the show, if they pay. We’d fit right in, wouldn’t we! But now, Miss Sally, I don’t want to do nothin’ to upset the guv’ment applecart. What all do I need to do to keep in the ‘handout’ business?’
“I resented Zeb’s frankness. It got the best of me, and I suggested, ‘You’re doing a disservice to your present children as well as any child you bring into the world.’ Get a job. Pick up aluminum cans, if you have to. You have a bushel scattered around your yard. Set a good example, and if your wife gets pregnant again—well, shoot yourself.’
“I did not have to return for four months, but when I did, the wife was showing her ‘baby bump’ with child number nine. I was not amused. I tolerated ‘Zeb’s’ usual lustful leer, the resented intrusion upon ‘trash television’ time, and the ‘sign this, sign that’ and ‘have you attended the counseling services?’ questions. This completed, I was left alone with ‘Zeb.’
“He was apologetic. ‘Ma’am,’ he said, ‘I thought about what you said last time you were here. When the woman come up with number nine, I anguished! I hid out with the .38 for a day, and I was going to shoot myself! But when I at held’t the gun to my head, out in the woods, you know it occurred to me: Boy—you may about to shoot an innocent man!’“
The counselor’s amused attitude prompted me to ask, “Now, really—is that a true story?”
Her offense was feigned. “As true as any of yours!” she responded. “In fact, I think they’re going to be on Jerry Springer!”
It’s small consolation, but at least this didn’t happen in LeFlore County.
Get our free daily email updates. Click HERE to sign up.
Sponsor OTHER STORIES or another section of heavenerledger.com or leflorecountyjournal.com. Call (918) 649-4712 for more information.
To submit a story or information, or to make a correction please send an email to [email protected]
Copyright 2017 Heavener Ledger. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.