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Enduring the Writer's Strike : Part 2

A Day Late and Eight Hundred Dollars Short

by Scott Shapiro

So, like most people (I hope), I’ve already flushed one of my most important New Year’s resolutions right down my splatter encrusted shitter. Each of these blog entries are supposed to be up first thing Monday morning, serving as a rite of passage into the next week for all those who dared read the inane and mundane moments that made up the week prior for this unemployed writer’s assistant... and it’s Tuesday. So much for all that piss and vinegar spewed in the last blog, huh? One week. I couldn’t even make it one week on the road to recovery without falling back into the land of the lifeless log of shit, floating in the toilet bowl waiting to be flushed away. Way to be on the ball o’bag of douche! Yes, I know that’s an awful lot of toilet talk so early in the day (and the blog), but I think it accurately reflects my mood and sense of self-worth as the failures of the last week run through my head, into my fingers and onto the keyboard.

I know what you’re probably saying right now (if you’re still reading). All that self-degradation because I’m a day late on a blog? No, friend. The blog snafu was just the cherry on top of the crap-filled cake which was last week. I believe when you read me last, you were left hanging on a tantalizing cliffhanger of epic proportions:

Will Scott become a substitute teacher?

The answer: Scott is a fucking idiot of the highest order (or at least that’s how the slovenly people down at the LA Unified School District made him feel).

Much to my dismay, upon arriving at the LAUSD, I was informed that I couldn’t just walk in off the street and start holding class for a bunch of kids just because my mother put the idea in my head and I was too lazy to think of any other means of obtaining money to line my pockets. There’s a little thing called accreditation that one has to have before teaching our nation’s future, even at the substitute level (although anyone who had the displeasure of having Mr. Machowski as their science teacher back at Madison No. 1 would probably beg to differ). Yeah… I didn’t have that. However, there was a test I could take to achieve such accreditation… in February… with the test results coming back in March… probably just in time for the strike to end. However, considering no one knows when this ridiculous stand-off between the rich and richer will end, I signed up for it anyway.

With option number one down and out, I began to look for other means to support myself. That search started in my mail-box as every day I waited rather impatiently for our neighborhood’s Cliff Claven to bring salvation to my doorstep in the form of my brand new credit card and my notice of unemployment insurance award.

Monday… Tuesday… Wednesday… all passed and not a single shred of mail would find it’s way into the box. Nary a letter, nor an advertisement, not even a fucking bill which would have been welcomed if only for that brief moment of hope it would have generated. And still I spent. I spent money on coffee shop Diet Cokes, movies (I recommend Sweeney Todd and There Will Be Blood), food and even the occasional alcoholic libation, all in the hopes that debt-inducing money (but money nonetheless) was only a day away.

Thursday. Still nothing… except more spending of course.

By Friday morning I was at my wit’s end. Believe it or not, it’s hard work entertaining yourself all week when all of your friends are actually busy with these pesky little things called “jobs�?. I mean, it was almost the weekend for shit’s sake which meant human contact, but I had no money to go anywhere with anyone. What was I to do if there was no mail again? Donate blood? Donate semen? Was there anything else I could donate? As luck would have it, I haven’t had to investigate the answer to these questions as I found two letters I my mailbox on that Friday afternoon. As I saw the EDD (Employment Development Department) return address on one envelope and felt the credit card hidden inside another, I flashed-back to Celebration blaring out at my Bar-Mitzvah. Yes, it was a good moment.

2,500 bucks… for free… for now! That’s what the credit card said and truth be told, I was a little disappointed as I was hoping the card would hold a little more money, but beggars can’t be choosers. So far, so good (enough) as I figured that that twenty-five hundred smackeroonies would be my emergency fund, making up the difference for whatever my unemployment check wouldn’t cover.

Oh, yes. The Unemployment Insurance Award. Come to Daddy! I ripped open the envelope salivating like a seven year old opening his first present on Christmas morning. And my “award�? was… $00.00. Yup, you read that right. Zip… zero… nunca… nada! As I shook my head in disbelief, I combed through every word of the notice, which informed me that NONE of my last three employeers had reported me earning ANY income whatsoever. I mean, I was due at least $800.00 a month which would at least cover my rent (and don’t you dare look up what that equates to as far as my best quarter you assholes! It wasn’t a pretty year financially speaking). Surely, there had to be a mistake and a number to call in case of such mistake, right? RIGHT?!

Oh, there it was. Whew! I thought I was fucked for a second there. I mean, there was no possible way I could survive in the interim without getting at least SOME unemployment.

“Due to the storms, several unemployment offices have been shut down and there will be a delay in getting benefits blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.�? “The storms�?… which were completely underwhelming, not to mention ended a week ago, had shut down offices? I know that people in L.A. freak out and can’t drive on the freeway when it drizzles, but I didn’t realize a couple drops of water actually excuses government officials from doing their jobs, especially at a time when a significant portion of the population is out of work due to the strike.

To be honest, I could probably drone on and on about trying to find out why my employment information was so incredibly fucked up, but I won’t bore you with tales of my ongoing as-of-yet-unsuccessful bid to get a human being on the phone during my seemingly never-ending redial-cancel-redial cell-phone cycle of hell. But at least today, while on hold (and soon to be dropped) and sorting through the mail, I opened another notice from the EDD that said they were unable to verify my identity, thus making me ineligible for the $00.00 that I was awarded by them in the previous notice. So I got that going for me… which is nice.

Wow… it looks like I did nothing last week… and to be honest, I can’t argue with how it looks because that statement is pretty close to being 100% dead on the money. However, while I might not have done much last week, I did learn something:

Nothing is going to be handed to me on silver platter (except of course the credit cards… love/loathe the credit card!) and the past week’s patheticness is just that… in the past… and incredibly pathetic.

I look forward to the week ahead, sure to be filled with the EDD cell-phone cycle, hopefully a meeting with Fondue Bonzai to discuss some financial matters, tattoo parlors, a temp agency or two and Joe Mantegna’s immortal words from the woe-begotten Godfather III ringing through my head: “If they will not give… I WILL TAKE!�?

Yeah… that’s right. I’m ending this blog on a quote from Godfather III and it’s not even the good one. Deal with it. Hilarly’s a racist. Oprama in 2008!



To read Part 1, click here

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