So a few days after I got out of the hospital this summer, I received a letter from the Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) stating that DSP, my former employer, was contesting my benefits. In layman’s terms; my old job didn’t want me to get the draw. Entirely destitute after a month in the bin, I promptly freaked my shit, called Pusser, and was assured by his new co producer that I had nothing to worry about. “It’s about when you filed back in October,” she told me. “Don’t sweat it.” I was just as happy to put it out of my mind, honestly. So I did. My hearing date was set and rescheduled not once but twice, and when I arrived home from Arizona I was greeted with yet another summons. A summons for the next day. Yipes.
That morning, I pulled on yellow tights, fake pearls, a new black dress, and my blue flats. I fastened my hair in a pseudo-french twist and painted my lips bright red. Despite being so well coiffed, I couldn’t help but get panicky as I sat in the waiting room and reviewed my case’s documents. A lot of people had lawyers.
Like, a LOT of people had lawyers.
Perhaps I’d not given this situation the gravity of thought it deserved.
After twenty minutes or so Pusser arrived, towing with him his editor, his new co producer, and, of course, his very own lawyer. Needless to say, I promptly started trembling. I didn’t know too much about what was going on, but I DID know that if DUA ruled against me I would have to pay back some fourteen thousand dollars of benefits. And guess what I don’t have? FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, that’s what.
The hearing room was the size of my parents’ master bath. To my left was the arbiter, to my right was Pusser, and the lawyer sat directly across from me. A tape recorder lay in the center of the table, whirring silently along. The real problem, I learned, was that the state of Massachusetts had been taking my unemployment disbursements directly out of Pusser’s bank account – he was using this venue as a way to get the state’s attention. I relaxed a little. “So this isn’t a REAL hearing”, I thought. “Everything is fine.” The arbiter asked me some easy questions: what led up to your quitting your job, what was your last day of work, when did you go into the hospital, etc and all. My memory of the time is a bit hazy, being that I was pretty much psychotic for a month or two there, so I even fumbled the cake answers. Then it was the lawyer’s turn to query.
“Do you run a website? Erinire dot blogspot dot com?”
“Um, bah, yes,” I stammered, blanching.
“Do you recall an entry from June fourth, 2009?”
“N-not specifically, no.”
Thankfully, she’d taken the liberty to print out this post. Bitch slid it across the table like a blacklisted dossier.
Go to the post. Read the last line. “I quit my job”, it says. This was two full days before I went inpatient. Now, I don’t know what she was getting at with that, but I can only imagine that she hoped it would demonstrate some clarity of mind around my decision to leave DSP, which would mean that I wasn’t as crazy as I said I was, which means I shouldn’t have been getting unemployment. At all. Ever. Which means I’d owe the state fourteen thousand dollars. Which means, pretty much, I’d be fucked.
I was a mess when I walked out of the hearing – I headed straight for the door and started chain smoking like you don’t even know. I could see my financial future melting before my eyes. I clawed through my purse for an Ativan (came up empty). I called my mom.
I waited two weeks for a decision, and despite the unearthing of my blog, the state ruled in my favor. Good news is, I don’t owe fourteen thousand dollars. Bad news is, I’m not the next Dooce. I think I’d rather have my unemployment, though.