Thursday 18 August 2011

Thought Picnic: In an unfamiliar world

Circumstances of uncertain futures

Certain circumstances bring you into environments of almost outer worldliness, ones that never seemed to appear on the radar of your future years long before those situations become your reality.

I probably have had my fair share of such introductions to being given a hand for all sorts of situations where you find yourself vulnerable most of which has been in just the last two years.

I could well remember my falling so ill in Berlin that at the check-in counter the personnel had to come round to place my luggage on the weighing machine and then call for a wheelchair service to take me from lounge to aircraft and I was met by a greeting service at my destination.

Using help in helplessness

That was the easiest of them all, when I lay sick in hospital, I had literally lost every assertiveness of ego to defer to almost anything that was told me, there were times a spark of the old self materialised and the nurse would marvel as to how much I seemed to understand what was going on even if I could hardly help myself.

From a point of fierce independence, I have had to rely on a lot more people and services, learning as I go along that to access certain entitlements, I need to accept certain indignities, most of all the loss of pride and that does hurt to varying degrees.

They appear to care

However, I cannot but accept the fact that many of those on the other end listening to my tales are genuinely interested, quite sympathetic and ready to help.

In the many cases where I have had no knowledge of the workings of the welfare state, I have been informed that much of what I have contributed in times before when I was in rude health and in what was a pinnacle of ability and earning power counts towards the basis for assistance in the leanest and most vulnerable times.

Somehow, the hurdles just seem to be higher and more difficult for those that have generally been independent and oblivious of how the system works.

Singling the Double-Dutch of the system

Today, it started with a group session of making sense of liabilities, getting documents in some particular order and then having the experts wade through the maze of bureaucratic snags that make an impossibility of the circumstances that brought us here in the first place.

Much as I followed the whole introduction in Dutch, those of us not fluent in the lingo were expected to bring our own interpreters; I was not able to book one and I still found the personnel amenable enough to converse in English and take me through the processes.

The checklist of documents required to populate the folder provided differed from the list that came with the letter of invitation, there is much filing to be done back home.

It was worthwhile

I also got caught in the minutiae of understand some basic Dutch words where I thought a replacement service was a disconnection service – it does not get any easier and it informs the fact that formal Dutch classes are mandatory the moment I get myself back on my feet, the rudimentary stuff I have is just too warped and built on shaky foundations to be of value.

What I would take away from this morning’s session is not entirely clear but as the sun shines brightly out there, there is the hope that some direction will be provided. At least, as I left, I was told of the possibilities out there that I might not have availed myself off, they will do some research and help get the issues on track – it looked like a productive morning.

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