Right now, I am frustrated. My current circumstances provide lots of opportunities to find myself in such a state. Fortunately, I have been in good spirits for some time. Roadblocks have led to creative thinking or an acceptance of the uncertainty of all that hangs in the balance. I am not fond of the circumstances that push me into this corner, but I am fond of the results, the stability and the attitude that keeps moving forward, even when” forward” is a jagged line consisting of tiny, incremental, baby steps.

A fighter’s spirit has been developing in me. I can’t stand things that are unfair. I can’t stomach things that disenfranchise people who are already struggling.

So, I fought for months with my disabled brother’s employer as his legal guardian, until his former employer granted him retiree medical insurance. They were unimaginably horrible to deal with and did their level best to distance themselves from their retirees by outsourcing services to another company and providing no reasonable appeal process. His former company is owned by a large conglomerate and I absolutely refuse to ever consume any products imprinted with that name. In the interest of full disclosure, that company owns a vast array of brands of food, beverages, and restaurants. So, I am only refraining from a couple of products that bear the actual name. More full disclosure, their competitor’s flagship product is better, anyhow.

So, I am fighting with my credit union over showing a credit card payment over 30 days late on our credit report. That month I made two payments. So far, there have three long phone calls without it being corrected, yet. Each person has a slightly different story… something about not matching their billing cycle and being $6.00 short.  Certainly, when we have strained to stay afloat financially on one income and have faithfully paid our bills, I will not settle for that.

So, I am fighting to bring a local advocacy agency into being in my area. It has been a crazy ride. After two years of involvement, we has chased down a couple of rabbit trails and accomplished some good conceptual work. Now I am “calling the question” with our parent organization and I am beginning to prepare a formal business plan to be voted upon to finally settle this thing and hopefully birth a much needed organization.

Things are broken. They don’t have to be. There just hasn’t been enough pressure to get them fixed. Our social service system is fractured, siloed, and almost impossible to navigate. Customer service is nonexistent. So-called Customer Service Representatives are typically under-paid, under-trained, and unable to do much. If you need something done that is not on their short list of FAQ’s, forget it.

It usually goes something like this, I will call with something that needs clarification or fixing and the poor underpaid, under trained CSR will tell me something about their system or their limitations, then I will repeat it to them, so they can see how bizarre in it sounds. Often my preface is something like, “You mean to tell me…” or “let’s see if  I have got this straight…”

I used to shy away from these kinds of “fights”; I wanted to be a “good Christian” and would wonder if there was something wrong with me for having an issue that somebody’s “system” didn’t know how to address. These days I see no virtue to letting ourselves or others get screwed or taken advantage of. I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. I want to treat everyone with kindness and respect, but I am not a chump. Certainly, there are millions of people, who for one reason or another, are not able to engage in their own battles and they desperately need an advocate to simply survive.

Originally posted March 9, 2011.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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