“After going over your finances, there are some areas I would like to cover with you.” The caseworker’s rehearsed tone predicted a forecast of brick walls, not speed bumps.
Christian sat silent as he listened. With each visit he risked the chance of being fired, This was the second time he had to request time off from work. Warnings from his foreman added to the tension. He was still in the 90 day probation. Any excuse to get fired was one excuse too many. Family first. He reminded himself … at the end of the day we all stop working, we do not stop being family. However, I need this job to show I can support my brother.
“I understand that you make minimum wage.” The caseworker’s dark smooth skin deeply contrasting with her eye’s sclera, accented her concerned look.
A bit of embarrassment came over Christian. He knew he made minimum wage, but to hear someone say it out loud actually brought a sense of lowliness to it. “Yes, and because of such, I will qualify for government assistance.”
“Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.” she paused, “We are in the process of reducing people needing government aid. Your brother would be better off where he is, or in a more financially stable home.”
Without raising his voice Christian made his rebuttal “That’s absurd. A single woman, making minimum wage can give birth to a child, but I cannot adopt my own brother. Child services has been called to her house on serval occasions.”
“…And the police has recently been called to your house.” the caseworker added as she glanced at his swollen nose. “If I bring this to my superior right now, she would laugh at it. There is no way that I can allow you to adopt your brother. Trust me when I say I understand what you are doing. I was that single mother you mentioned, and yes, I was on government support. Is it fair? No. But that’s how the system works. I am fighting for you. I need you to show me that you have a stable income and a safe home.”
The words sank deep with Christian. She was right. “So, what type of budget are we talking about?”
“It’s tight but it’s what I used when raising my little girl.” The caseworker pulled out a slip of paper. “Just fill this out and you’ll see where you stand.”
His heart sank. There was no way he could make these numbers work. Sacrifices had to be made. That was the simple truth. Taking a deep breath, Christian thanked Ashley for her time, then headed home.
On the ride home, Christian swarmed around how he could make the budget work. He wasn’t that far off, he just needed to take sack lunches in, sell his car, walk to work, never use the a/c or lights and bath only at work. Yea, he could make this work. I can do this. Just need to plan it out and stay the course. Pulling into the driveway, he looked at his apartment unit on the second floor. Good news is, I don’t need to look for a cheaper apartment. I already have it.
A buzz from his phone signaled a missed call and a voice mail.
“Hey Christian, this is George. Don’t worry about coming into work this week. Management has decided to give you the rest of the week off without pay. Hope you get everything worked out, and we’ll see you next Monday.”
How could he sound to nonchalant about that? Hey, we’re gonna take a quarter of your paycheck. Hope you don’t mind.
Walking up to his apartment, he found his mother setting by his door.
“When it rains, it pours.” Christian exhaled.