Saturday, September 24, 2005

Human Services

My mom works for the State of Mississippi, helping distribute food stamps to the poor, and helping to make sure that dads pay child support. She makes $6.91 an hour before taxes, and she feels it's the best job she's ever had.

That's a picture of her in front of what was left of her office. After being torn apart by Category 4 winds, it was submerged under the water of a Category 4 storm surge (18-22 feet according to national officials, 24-28 feet according to locals). The front wall collapsed, and desks floated and came to rest on their sides. Her boss had a wooden swivel-chair in his office that had been handed down from his great-grandmother. It could be seen on it's side through the broken windows, covered in the swamp mud, molding and decrepit, office knick-knacks strewn around it. A bizarro office. An alternate reality.

The parking lot and sidewalk outside were caked in drying mud, cracking under the oppressive sun that had been baking us since the storm left. Strewn about were official documents that had been blown out of her office, torn and fading, some baked under the inch-thick dry mud, others resting on top.

A small contingent of National Guard troops, maybe six teens and their 24 year-old sergeant, were stationed at the other corner of the parking lot, with their humvee. We told them about the documents, and how my mom worked there, and how she was worried that the personal information might be used by identity thieves. One of the teens relayed this to his sergeant, who came back with a decisive Southern "Thank you ma'am we'll take care of it."

A few days later there was a state trooper from Orange County, California stationed in front of the office. A few days after that the office was bulldozed. My mom doesn't know where her $6.91 an hour dream job will go, now.

A torn marriage certificate bakes in the hot sun. It reads:
On this day celebrated the Rites of Matrimony between (torn)
Mr. Timothy Reed Cooke (torn)
Ms. Eileen Rene Tucker (torn)
Given under my hand, this the 25th day of June (torn)

I wonder where the happy newlyweds are now?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I work for the Food Stamp office in Texas, and seeing this made me feel a kinship to your mom. What a job- you know?

I hope she's contacted them, to see if they are doing an contingency plans for their employees.

I know many of my coworkers in Beaumont, Port Arthur, and that area are also dealing with destroyed work places.

God Bless you and your mom/brother.