Freudian Slips: Rejection is a Four Letter Word

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

July 13, 2006

Rejection is a Four Letter Word

Wilburt Thadeus Mcfadden’s mild mental retardation and anger management issues are painfully consistent with his learning disabilities. He can pronounce a word like ‘fibromaliagia’ in his slow drawl but haphazardly misplaces his car keys several times a day. He has insight in some matters but poor practical judgment in most others. He drives a car yet a detour can make him two hours late for work. He can bag groceries with the best of them but forgets to take his accrued vacation. He is smart enough to be his own guardian yet has too much pride to go to a hospital emergency room to ask for help.
Help is where this story takes us. Wilburt works part time at a supermarket that keeps him below the threshold of hours to earn health benefits. I transported Wilburt to the County Board of Social Services to see if there was a Medicaid Only program he could enroll under for health benefits. Wilburt sought only the medical insurance every American longs for. When Wilburt’s name was called, so began the protocol of shouting confidential information to a case worker through a glass barrier window. A security guard sat neighborly nearby sucking down a cup of coffee. After identifying data was provided, Wilburt produced a manila envelope full of rejection papers from Social Security Administration. The documentation pointed to man who did not have enough functional disabilities to qualify for Medicaid coverage. The case worker scanned a menu of programs from a fact sheet. After brief discussion, Wilburt was declared ineligible for every program. A NJ Workability program seemed to initially fit but application could not be made within the same year of the rejection date on the disability letter. I insisted they page a supervisor. A supervisor came out of the woodwork to rifle through Wilburt’s paperwork. She read several paragraphs then apologized for wasting our time.
“So I can understand the situation better.” I questioned. “If Wilburt was unemployed and sleeping in until noon everyday, he could get assistance?”
“Yes...” the supervisor agreed, “but don’t be encouraging him to quit his job for health benefits. He needs to be terminated.”
“Maam, I was just pointing out the inequities in the system. Social Security Administration is penalizing him for not being as handicapped as his peers. The County Board of Social Services is disqualifying him because he is a working productive member of society. He needs health coverage.”
I looked over at the security guard to see if he objected to my civil protest. He paid no mind to anything but his coffee.
The case worker apologized, “I’m sorry but there is no way we can help him.”
We went to leave. Wilburt stood on the legs that pained him, in the diaper that clothed him, trying for the life of him to get those disability rejection papers back in the manila envelope. A cruel irony surfaced watching his perceptual impairment manifest itself to tussle with nothing other than his rejection papers. Like a man in motion proving the disability denied to him, Wilburt couldn’t slide the bulk of papers back into the manila envelope. Instead, he grew frustrated and embarrassed mishandling the papers in the mobbed office. It struck my heart in a way that I had to turn away. I wanted his caseworker to see his predicament but she never looked up from her work.
Then came Wilburt’s admission about the paper chase. “I have trouble with these sorts of thing, Joe. You have no idea.”
“I know you do.” I reached over and opened the sleeve of the envelope to create a wider berth. “It’s the people who decide on these matters that have no idea.”
We walked out into a cold rain.



Anonymous et said...

Of all the stories that you have related on this blog, this one is the most heart wrenching. Unfortunately, this scene is duplicated hour after hour at the agencies that process the ineligibles, whether it is with the State or in the private sector. The inequitable distribution of our health care system defies the sensibilities of my human nature. Today, even those with medical coverage have to fight tooth and nail to get approval, from the powers to be, for needed tests so that their physician can make an accurate diagnosis and adequate treatment. Sorry about venting, here! Will try and control myself in the future.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

How far are we from Canada?

5:44 PM  
Blogger Merci said...

That's sad. I feel a little bit sorry for the social workers, too. I have to gatekeep sometimes, and it isn't fun.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

wohat a terrible mess we got ourselves into, Ollie!

7:35 PM  

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