I was working for A Book Distributer for 14 months before being laid off due to lack of work. Not to worry; we parted on good terms, and I was eligible for unemployment. Great. Except, it really wasn't. Long story short; the UE website claims that if you've lived in the state for 18 months, you qualify. Good in theory--except if you've worked out of state in the last 24 months, the website rejects your claim. At this point, you have to perform a certain amount of run-around with Real People... most of whom consistently tell you that this really should be taken care of online. (You know, the site that rejects my claim because I worked in another state 2 years ago.) Weirdly enough, I only stressed but so much during this time, mostly because of all the horror stories I'd heard from other people about their problems. (Unemployment has sky-rocketed in this area. Last I heard, it was up to 25% in a nearby county.) But! I finally jump through all of their hoops and start receiving my checks.
Then I get the letter that states (in all capitals no less) that I must report for a mandatory re-employment class, and failure to do so will cause the loss of my benefits. I find this out two days before I'm supposed to report, so I call and as if it can be re-scheduled. To my surprise, it could be, and I arrange to come in the next week. So I go, and I sit. The letter tells me to allow 4 hours, so I wait 3:45 before finally going back to the receptionist and asking if she could give me an ETA. She makes a phonecall, but can't find the woman who's been assigned to me. She informs me that it's my responsibility to email her--and that after that, I should go and have lunch. I was a little dubious; if the point is to establish contact, why would I want to leave? Having the presence of mind not to say that out loud, I just let her know that I'm not able to drive, and would rather wait. She suggests the alternative of coming back later in the day. I suppose it would be a viable option if they weren't closing in three hours? Given that the round trip takes an hour, and that I'd have to wait half and hour for someone to come and get me, I tell her that I really didn't mind waiting--the lobby wasn't that full, and I had my laptop. She rolls her eyes and sighs, and curtly tells me that I'd better hurry up and send the email. Right-o. Now, I don't know what happened while I was in the computer center writing said email, but when I came out I overhear her talking to some woman about how I went all customers_suck on her. Really? I suppose in her eyes I might have, but I tried to keep a pleasant tone throughout; I've had that job, and it's pretty thankless. On the other hand, that did get me seen by the woman--who turns out to be the one assigned to me. Yay! The downside; they'd lost my file, and could reschedule me. *headdesk* But I agree to come back the next week.
Here's where we finally get to the crux of the matter. My inability to drive is vision-related. The near-sightedness is not so much a problem; however, my faulty depth perception and peripheral vision is. To be more direct; I flatly cannot tell precisely where the other cars on the road are. Surface roads are bad; highways are impossible; driver's tests are unpassable--though when I was younger, it took awhile to accept that fact. ;) However, UE has determined that my reasons for not driving are invalid. I've been informed that I will need a doctor's note indicating that I cannot drive for medical reasons, but that they may still rule against me and have my benefits revoked. I can also continue to test for my license, as the certificates of failure will indicate that I am attempting to get my driver's license. However, failure to achieve a license may also cause my benefits to be revoked. Meanwhile, failing to accept a job of their choice (up to 50 miles away) will likewise cause my benefits to be revoked.
How is it that UE gets to decide whether or not my decision not to drive is valid? I've already stated that I have reliable transportation--and the attendance record to prove it. Furthermore, I wouldn't want a job 50 miles away, even if I could drive myself! If I didn't need the money, I think I'd just cut myself from the program and be done with it. As is, I'm now tempted to take a throw-away job just to free myself of the stress and anxiety this is bringing me. I have to keep reminding myself that it wouldn't be a viable solution, long term. But seriously? I'm left feeling that UE's primary function is to find a way to cut me off. That can't possibly be true... right?