Saturday, March 13, 2010
I've been putting the words together for this post for a long time, but part of me has been ashamed and embarrassed - part of me didn't want to be judged.
On January 15th, 2010, I came home from running a few errands to discover that my electric had been turned off. The bill was extremely late - and before I let you think that I'm blowing the money I make at my job - let me remind you that I'm a single mother. Let me also tell you how the geniuses down in Annapolis deregulated the utilities back in 1999, and ever since Hurricane Katrina, my personal electric bill has risen a minimum of 150%, upwards of 250%.
I went to the Energy Assistance program back in September or October and applied, like I do every year. Normally, when I go, I'm approved. This time, because of a raise I had gotten in October 2008, combined with the piddly amount of Child Support that I receive (for one child, mind you), put me about $200 over the annual limit to qualify for this program.
Keep in mind I'm the only one paying for everything - food, rent, car insurance, gas, electric, water, phone, cable, etc... I couldn't afford my electric bill. I scaled back, but it didn't help. Rate increases keep coming, making my bill worse no matter what I do.
I thought that they couldn't turn us off because of the cold weather - boy was I wrong! I got turned off - when I had $500 in my pocket to pay something on the bill that day. We had just gotten through Christmas and my plan was to pay something every time I got paid, until the spring when I "thought" they could turn off my service.
I went to stay with a friend of mine, someone who lives with their parents. Not only would I have to be humble by losing my house (technically) but I'd also have to live with someone's parents, which I haven't done since I was 16 years old when I moved out of my parents' house.
I did my tax return, got my piddly amount of taxes back (oh and let me tell you that I have to PAY money to the state of Maryland... hmmm), saved up about $2000 to pay the bill. I called Baltimore Gas & Electric, told them my situation, and was told they wouldn't work with me at all. To top it off, while I was on the phone with them, I was looking at my account balance online, and when I asked how much I would have to pay to get service turned back on, the difference in what I was told and what I was seeing online was $400! I asked what this difference was and was told that this person didn't know.
I proceeded to contact the Maryland Public Service Commission, after calling the United Way for assistance. United Way told me that the PSC will communicated on behalf of you with BGE even if your service is off, to negotiate a payment plan. I submitted the complaint on February 15th, and as of three days ago, I still hadn't heard anything from them. I proceeded to call them on Thursday, and was told they never got the complaint. GREAT! So I had to submit it again. And I spoke with BGE and got a payment amount so that they would turn my service back on.
Problem is now I no longer have a job. My job was a good job - I made about $25/hour as a secretary under a Government Contractor. My hours of work were from 6:30 am to 5 pm, times that I couldn't get my kids on or off the bus. At home, they did it themselves while I was working - and I talked to them in the mornings. Since we're staying out of our school district, I asked my friend's mother to take the kids to school for me.
Everything was fine until one morning my son was bitching about being late to school - she said she wasn't going to take them to school anymore. We talked, worked it out, and that was resolved. I told her that I was going to transfer their schools to where they live, so she wouldn't have to keep doing that. She told me not to, because neither of the kids wanted to switch schools.
Fast forward to last week - something pissed her off - not sure what it was exactly but I've heard it was because my daughter told her not to touch her. She tells my friend (not me) that she wasn't taking the kids to school anymore. My friend has been the go-between for her ever since we've been here. I'm not sure why she can't come talk to me directly, since they're my kids, and we're both grown women, but that's what was going on. So I took them to school, and got fired.
Last night she came and said, "Is there something you need to tell me?" Of course I'm like, "what are you talking about?" (Mind you, we haven't been speaking - after she pulled the last stunt, she holed herself up in the room all weekend, avoided me, and looked at my daughter funny when she told her good morning.) She proceeded to say, "I haven't seen you go to work." I got fired Monday and now it's Thursday - are you just now figuring it out?
So we proceed to have this conversation on how I had told her previously if there was an issue with the kids or whatever, she should have come to me, etc. I honestly feel like the talking I did to her made no good because she was talking about other things and didn't really even respond to what I was saying to her.
Now I'm the one without a job, who feels like a failure, all because I couldn't afford my electric bill, and I "make too much money" for any assistance at all. I'm depressed, I'm angry, and even though I ultimately put myself in this situation, there was still nothing I could do about it. When I get paid, I'm robbing Peter to pay Paul.
I look back and wonder what I could have done differently, and I just don't know. I wish that for once when I need to rely on someone, because I don't often (I'm very independent), that I could honestly rely on that person and not have anything to worry about.
So for the past week I've been job hunting, applied for Unemployment, and I contacted Child Support since I pay it and receive it. I'm still paying rent for a house we're not living in. I need to get over there and start packing stuff to move out but I don't have money to get boxes or to get a storage area - because I have no where to keep my stuff.
If I don't find a job soon, I don't know what I'm going to do - I don't want to continue to stay here because I know the drama isn't over. I'm not one for drama and I can't take any bullshit. That's why I'm pissed about this situation - not once did she communicate with ME about how she was feeling about my kids - she left it up to her child to tell me.
I don't have family I can go to and I was in a shelter about 11 years ago so I'd rather not go back. It's just depressing.
So those of you who have seen my tweets and recent post about the stuff that's going on with me - there you have it. My life is screwed up and I don't know what to do.