“Empty your pockets.” The command is cold and mechanical and Dionne tries not to take offense but she can see the judgement behind the security guard’s eyes. She can see it as he looks over the people ahead of her, and behind in line, in the early morning hours in the October chill. Some folks are still outside in that cold and she knows if she waited just five minutes more, if she caught one more red light, she would still be out there, and waiting at least another hour just to be seen.
It is like that here at the DSS offices. A short wait makes a long wait and you can spend an entire morning, and sometimes into the afternoon in uncomfortable plastic chairs until someone calls your number. This is only her third time here and already the workers speak to her like she is some kind of leech. They are short with her when she has questions and she wants to be charitable, she wants to look at the insanely long lines served by three people up front and maybe half a dozen in back and sympathize but it is hard when it sure looks like they do not want to do the same.
It is hard when you are treated like a criminal for your boss retiring and closing the shop after you worked your ass off for them for fifteen years. It is hard when all the skills you developed were in retail and the big chains can get a sixteen year old to do your work for stupidly little in compensation. It is hard when your high school guidance counselors steered you away from college but the whole world tells you to go.
They talk to her like she is an idiot. They tell her to get at least twenty prospective employers to sign her little book each week or they will cut her off. Oh, and they have to be hiring, like there are so many of those out there now. So she waits, and waits, and does her best not to be defeated by them, or the defeat of those around her. She does her best to put up with it, and believe tomorrow she will have a job.