Tuesday, January 5, 2010

tales from the breadline

As promised....

{And, yes.  I totally ganked that title from Above the Law.  So sue me.  Hahahaha!  Funny Lawyer Blogging Puns!}

Backstory: 

So I'm unemployed, yes?  Yes.  And what do unemployed people do?  They file for unemployment!  Might as well get some of those tax dollars that I've been shelling out since the age of 17 back, right?  Right!

Anyhoo, every two weeks, after jumping through the requisite hoops and swearing an oath that I am indeed doing something more productive than watching back episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians all the days of my job-challenged life, I receive my little sum of money from the lovely folks down at the Texas Workforce Commission.  And, in keeping up with the times, TWC electronically transfers this money onto a Chase Visa debit card... MAGICAL!**

Even though this mystical automatic deposit is convenient and beats the hell out of waiting for a check 2x a month, I've chosen to use these payments to pay certain household bills... which means the money must be taken out of the Chase account and deposited into my bank account.  The only way to do this is through the ATM... which only allows withdrawals in increments of $20.

So basically every two weeks, I have $11 sitting pretty on this debit card.  No problemo = lunch / latte / froyo / diet coke money!  Yippee!

"Can She Get to the Damn Funny Part, or What" Story:

Last week, as I packed my car to head to Austin, I thought to myself, "a triple grande non-fat eggnog latte sure would hit the spot right about now."  And so to Starbucks I went to order the yuppiest of all hot coffee beverages.  I went to The Good Starbucks - the one in hoity-toity Highland Park Village.  The one a block and a half from our house always burns their espresso and, on two occasions during Red Cup Season, failed to have nonfat eggnog on hand.  Essentially, they are dead to me.

I am greeted.  I order.  I give my name.  Barrista Bitch swipes my Chase Visa debit card.  I step to the side and wait for my coffee.

"Um, miss?"  I am tweeting and do not hear him.

"Miss?"  Stillllllll tweeeeeeeting.

"KATE!" (Damn the "why don't we write the customer's name on the cup?" idea!)

"Oh, yes, sorry!  I don't need my receipt!"

"No.  There is no receipt.  We can't process this transaction.  We don't take food stamps here."

"Pardon?"

"FOOD STAMPS.  You can't use those at Starbucks."  Thanks for the Outside Voice, Barrista Bitch.

(Whispering/Hissing through a Death Stare) "That's not food stamps.  Its an unemployment debit card.  I can use it on whatever I want.  If you take Visa, you take that card."

"Well, the computer is reading it as food stamps, so you're going to have to leave or pay with something else."

I wish I could share my super-snappy and witty retort - which in my head, aggressively asserts that I do not have the need for food stamps without belittling those that could use a hand up.  But, as is life, I paid in cash and shuffled out of there with my latte faster than you can say "Social Programming."

Next time, I'm taking my $11 to Neimans for some eyeshadow.

Except...

Crap-a-doodle!

They don't take my Visa either.

** Some of you may recall, AF continues to be the only workplace in the continental United States that doles out a physical paycheck every two weeks, rather than sign up for direct deposit. A LAW FIRM WITH NO DIRECT DEPOSIT!  When I was 18, I worked at a pizza restaurant (clarification: The Best Pizza Restaurant of All Time) under a manager with no high school degree who kept his pot next to the oregano in the walk-in fridge.  They?  Had direct deposit.

50 comments:

  1. So cracking up laughing right now!!! And that is completely embarrassing, but I just love you even more. Poor Kate. But I know you, of all people, can handle it. Because you were no doubt dressed impeccably when you tried to use your FOOD STAMPS at Starbucks.

    xoxoxox

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  2. Oh my goodness- hahaha! When I was laid off from my first Big Girl Job a year after I started, I also spent a lovely afternoon at the Department of Labor Office so I could get my unemployment check/eff-you-I-already-paid-for-this-in-taxes. I showed up in my lululemon outfit on my way to pilates with my $$ sunglasses on my head..err..that did NOT go over well with the regulars who smelled like pee. Traumatic. Ugh.

    FYI, my Whole Foods DOES take food stamps so maybe your's does too? ;-)

    ~Sarah

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  3. OH lord, am I going to find myself behind you at the grocery store and have to deal with the clerk telling you you can't use your Lone Star card on alcohol? BECAUSE THAT HAPPENS TO ME ALL THE TIME.

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  4. Oh, HONEY! I can sooo relate to hopping on the dole... Quite the gravy train (minus the gravy part, as I couldn't afford it). I remember having to withdraw $800 in $20 bills every month from the Chase ATM. Want to know how fun it is to pull wads of $20s in plain sight out of an ATM in Harlem? Lets just say I did a lot of running when I was unemployed.

    Kudos to you for still enjoying the sanity-saving little things in life! And hooray for you being such a great writer, I always enjoy the hell out of your stories!
    Here's to hopefully seeing you over MLK weekend?
    xoxo,
    Lu

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  5. Oh my gosh.....I would have probably flipped a bitch at Starbucks...Who would actually think that someone would use FOOD STAMPS!?

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  6. LOL. I'm dying! I love that the barista shouts "we don't take foodstamps" too. Thanks for sharing this!

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  7. HILARIOUS! You have one interesting and entertaining life :)

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  8. Hysterical. I too, am unemployed. I too, am getting unemployment while looking for work. It's all been kind of mundane. I'm almost jealous of your embarrassment. At least you get a funny story out of the whole thing. My priorities are clearly out of whack.

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  9. OMG..I cannot stop laughing right now. I love how you wrote this out, b/c I feel like I was standing right next to you when this all happened.
    I'm glad you still got your Starbucks out of the whole mess. :)

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  10. Love it! Oh my gosh, so hilarious and oh so annoying as well!

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  11. I'm pretty sure that we've used my dh's umemployment card at Starbucks before..but perhaps not. We use that thing everywhere! He's also been getting umemp for 2.5 years, ever since he was screwed by Verizon. Boo on TWC!

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  12. This is the best thing I've ever read on the internet. Honestly I think there is a chic lit novel here... I can see the charming intro chapter now where we get to know our heroine through a series of embarrassing situations.

    Seriously though, did he tell you that you would have to leave or pay with something else? That's hella rude. I think you should write them a letter. I think you could get a gift card out of it.

    PS keep your chin up!

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  13. I too get unemployment on a visa card but haven't had the trouble of it being called food stamps...yet:). Anyway, I file mine online but I had to go to the office once and (not to sound rude) am pretty sure I was the only educated one there. And at first I felt "too good" for unemployment but heck I pay taxes too. Besides the fact my "nice" employer said they were laying me off when they did so I could draw unemployment while I looked for work...

    Ps - I would love to know how you get it for 2.5 years like the previous posters husband!!

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  14. you make me laugh.

    oh, and the workshop... it only started doing direct deposit in November. Yep... took till almost 2010 for miss dawn to agree to that.

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  15. I'm seriously picturing you in one of your awesome JCrew or BR outfits right now, as the barista says "food stamps". That's so hilarious!!! Yeah, my b/f's company doesn't do direct deposit either, which is such a huge pain for him.

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  16. My dh was "let go" in Dec 2007 for low performance (considering he was then going through a horrible divorce and trying to get custody of his kids, therefore, he wasn't too interested in selling cell phones). So he basically looked for a job for 2 years, and got unemployement (extension after extension, luckily) for 2 years.

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  17. Now see there you go, right there.
    This story would sell, and I too, can just picture you in your ruffle j crew shirt, twittering away...next chapter.....by george your onto something.
    Someone else's blog was about mixing shit today. Everytime I see my tangerine KitchA I laugh. Your catchy and sellable.
    PS go ahead and wear that bracelet. RTR!!!

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  18. Crap, how embarassing! And hilarious! Good for you for having the sense of humor to take this all in stride. It actually reminds me of a hilarious book - Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster. If you haven't read it, check it out. I think you'll like it.

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  19. Funny and embarrassing all at the same time. Some people just don't know tact.

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  20. That is too funny! Thanks for the warning when I get my lovely little TWC Visa soon.

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  21. Ditto the last commenter...this post so reminds me of "Bitter is the New Black." Keep your head up. You posts always crack me up!

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  22. Kate! Best post EVER!

    Virtual hug from me to you and an ironic toast to F'ing Dallas and STD in particular.

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  23. When I was a sophomore in HS my dad got hurt at his job and we didn't have $$ to pay the bills - or for food - and we had to file for assistance, AKA the dreaded 'Food Stamps'. My mom was always so embarrased about using them to buy the groceries, and the hoops they made us jump through to get the assistance we needed for a short period of time was pretty rigorous and just made her and my dad feel worse about their situation.

    (Getting to the point here...) My point is that Government assistance has long been loosely associated with the uneducated, 'no good', lesser/lower class, slobs who don't want to work, etc. and then these folks are treated as such (or worse) by the vendors where they use said assistance. Judgement is passed without the blink of an eye - and now look who is using food stamps? Um, anybody since now the visa debit card they give you your unemployment $$ has been coded as Food Stamps.

    So while I _DO_ think this is funny, I also know how you feel. And so do a lot of other people, especially after the last couple years. And maybe now we can get a little further away from some of the stigma around government assistance and the people who use it.

    And one last thing - why the hell can't a person on a form of government assistance get a damn cup of coffee? I think that would probably help some folks out, right? Geeze.

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  24. Thank you for sharing your starbucks story. I can't stop laughing, but oh how mortifying.

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  25. hahahaha great story...my job also does not have direct deposit...the owner literally walks around every payday and hands you your check. sometimes they like to be assholes and wait till the afternoon so you can't deposit your check at lunch...some of us need to pay bills! ha...hope the job search is going well:)

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  26. well today we received word that there's a solid chance hubs will be hopping aboard the unemployment train, so i am loving the insight. note to self: starbucks and NM are out of the question!

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  27. As a fellow unemployed chicky I feel your pain! What a BITCH-a-rooney-dooney at Starbucks for calling out like that....I am lucky that Florida just sumps your check into your personal bank account~ Head Up and I hope you find something soon!!!
    xxoo

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  28. omg, rude. but i did indeed need this laugh this AM after dragging MY unemployed ass to pick up an even worse unemployed rental car.

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  29. This story is hilarious- especially since you were in Highland Park. My law firm, alas also does not have direct deposit- wtf?

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  30. Best story of the year so far! I'm dying in my cubicle and LOVING that you're in on the joke, too. Hate the bitchy barista but love that this will be your go-to story when you meet new lawyer-types in the future - or anyone, for that matter. Enjoy your coffee and eyeshadow, whichever Visa you use to buy them!

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  31. I think I would have died on the spot. Thanks for making my morning brighter with that little tale.

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  32. OMG, that is hilarious! And oh so, Jen Lancaster in Bitter is the New Black. I seriously cannot stop laughing!

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  33. That is hilarious! Just another reason why Austin is better than Dallas, good pizza and direct deposit. So, if you can't spend it on booze, caffeine or NM what can you spend it on?.

    I still cant believe she announced you were using food stamps.

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  34. This story effing killed me.

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  35. Oh my heavens! I would have curled up in a ball and died--but, you have an awesome kick ass attitude and obviously, handled it like a champ. Although, I would find a way to go back to that Starbucks and strangle that barista. Or, you know, something similar. :)

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  36. AH this is hilarious. and our law firm? does NOT have DD either.

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  37. OMG that is so embarrassing! I would have died if that was me.

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  38. So funny! As long as it's happening to someone else. I can guarantee you I would never enter that Starbucks again. Ever.

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  39. oy!

    two things. no make that three things.

    1. this is something that would happen to me
    2. i love that you are using your unemployment to buy a "YUPPIE" cup of coffee
    3. and im glad to hear someone else refer to the holidays as red cup season ;)

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  40. seriously funny story!! you just made my day a little brighter with that round of laughter!

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  41. Dang those food stamps! ha ha, great story, and glad you still got your latte!

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  42. Of course I laughed at this story - mostly because of the way you tell it (yes, you should be a writer). But, I actually find it really sad. I don't think people should be stigmatized for receiving state or federal assistance.

    As a former public benefits attorney (yep, one other out of work attorney here) I do have one nit-picky issue. While it sure seems like some of those taxes that you have been paying since you were 17 should be coming back to you right now, they aren't because you never paid an unemployment tax. Unemployment insurance funds come from a tax levied on employers NOT employees. No money was ever taken out of your pay checks to fund the unemployment benefits program in Texas (or any other state that I am aware of). Now when you go looking for your Social Security, Social Security Disability payments, or Medicare that is a completely different story - that really is your money.

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  43. hilarious! Im glad you can laugh about it, or you might need a stronger drink than starbucks :)

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  44. I went to Whole Foods today, and when I swiped my credit card the options food stamps, debit, or credit popped up. Your post immediately came to mind, and I laughed out loud. The cashier was not impressed; so don't worry you're not the only one to make a fool of yourself.

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  45. This is just too damn funny. Seriously, it's not like you were trying to buy something scandalous. I would have said," do you really think denying me caffeine is the best course of action for you today?" Jeez. And, it's good to know these pitfalls, cause we just got screwed again by corporate America ourselves. Bring on the government assistance!

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  46. Oh, I feel your pain. That whole Chase debit card debacle will haunt me. The business of having to drive to Chase every two weeks, go in, stand in line (so that I could get every last cent of my $), then drive to my bank, deposit said cash. OMG, could they not just direct deposit this money into my bank account??? Geez. I didn't think to try it at Starbucks - guess that's a good thing.

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happy little comments!