Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Barbara Ehrenreich: Elyssa Durant: Bait & Switch, Nickel & Dimed


We live in a society where one accepts responsibility for their mistakes, no one is held accountable for their actions, ao one EVER says they are sorry.

Let me you a small glimpse inside the day in the of the und/underemployed:

I spend day after day after may doing the same thing without any result: I can only offer you a glimpse into day in the life because there io room left to sit in my car, and I believe my apartment may actually be a fire hazard... This was my daily update posted at 7:30am:

I have done everything humanly possible to clean up the slack, however, I feel I have no other choice than to file a formal complaint so that my entire case is reviewed. The number of mistakes are so overwhelming that I simply don't have enough time to documents each and every one with the respective agency.

I will try to be more specific later without going into too much detail, but unfortunately, that level of detail is required to file the necessary appeals. Ironic huh? This apartment is like my own little cage, and I am just pathetic enough to run around in circles, hoping to find the much like a hamster wheel, rodent chasing in circles hoping to found my way out my way out before I run out air. If only I had finished my damn PhD, I would do my own case study or reality show on how far we'll go to have nothing at all...

I have taken care of the subrogation claim, however, that does bot minimize my level of frustration because I am DROWNING in paperwork. I have contacted several agencies to assistance such as the Disability Law and Advocacy Center, however, I do not have the resources necessary to provide them with timely response. There is a very limited time allowed to Request Reconsideration, or file an appeal.

I also want to be clear that every time I have to call Social Security or DHS, it only compounds my cost of living expenses (40 cents per minute on the telephone -- a bill which is not even considered to be a justifiable expense) Most agencies do not include self-addressed stamped envelopes, and I can not afford the postage required to mail out all of the requested documentation (e.g., utility bills, medical bills, pay stubs, etc.)

Fortunately, a number of agencies will take online complaints. Unfortunately, my internet was interrupted for non-payment for several weeks and their is no funding resource or community agency that provides subsidized Internet access or free printer ink.

Transportation costs are ridiculous so going to the library is not an option. Neither is returning to work right now, since it would cost too much to get to the interview or provide official (expensive) copies of my graduate school transcirpts that were oh, such a good investment!

Set aside, I am not the most user friendly person right about now, so I have found it difficult to put on a happy face so I can work at McDonald's which pays more than Metro anyway.

The subrogation claim has been resolved but I just learned that my breast biopsy was not pre-authorized and I was told by my INSURANCE CSR (the person who answers the phone!!!) that I should not have the surgery that has already been scheduled at the Women's Hospital for 8/21/2008. AmeriChoice (United HealthCare) did they did not authorize the biopsy last month, and have not, as of yet, received a request prior authorization for the surgery next week...

This was a lovely 54 minute conversation because he would not mail me copies of my EOBs or confirm that what, if any, requests have been submitted for payment since my last inquiry and change of address. He finally told me to call the state (Tennessee) which I have already done several times, and they told me to call Social Security but it was already past business hours and I am not authorized to make changes to my file anyway.

I'll be in touch when I can. Unfortunately each agency has different deadlines, and it takes a lot of energy and time to scan in, copy, or respond to each inquiry in writing, so I find myself running out of time since I can't seem to get anything done unless I just do nothing at all.

And even though my life is a living hell, I have almost learned how to enjoy the sheer irony of it all... for someone with OCD and post-traumatic stress, this is truly a ridiculous little experiment.

I am becoming increasingly inspired to just burn every last document I own, throw away my keys and my cell phone and take Spotty some place where we can live off the land and ignore the fact that society has me chained to a computer screen that screen that does provide the basic necessities I need to live in this .

I have come this far, and I am becoming rather skilled and at expressing myself without needing an audience or the obsessive need to check every fact, throw, and typo for capitalization and perfection.

So for now... I write.

Maybe later, I'll read, but if there is any justice left in this world, someday, I'll actually live.

Good-bye for now. I need a break.

With love,Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee
Cell: (615) 424-8810

"The paradox of education is precisely this-- that as one begins to
become educated, one begins to examine the society in which he [or
she] is being educated." - BaldwinElyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

  Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (DURANT)
Posted: 7:14:03 pm on 9/11/2008 Modified: Never
My first thought: You're kidding, right?

My second thought:
Poor thing just deosn't get it...
Take a look at "Good Fences" available online
Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee
Cell: (615) 424-8810

"The paradox of education is precisely this-- that as one begins to
become educated, one begins to examine the society in which he [or
she] is being educated." - Baldwin

  Appealing the Appalling (DURANT)
Posted: 9:39:44 pm on 9/11/2008 Modified: Never
Today I was finally able to submit the appeal I have waited over three years to submit. And it is just an APPEAL! Not even a decision. Not a win, but also not a loss.

The APPEAL has given me the strength to keep going. In part because it shows that I haven't lost and in part because it means that somebody actually listening.

So listen carefully, my friends. It was not too long ago that I had almost everything a young person needs to succeed in this world.

Or maybe not.

As for my most current insurance dispute... I feel that I have done everything humanly possible to be sympathetic towards health care provider who is NOT providing care. I cannot sacrifice my own well being for every bright eyed bushy tailed wanna be who is too stupid to see that I am far from.

I had such a battle this week. It culminated in the end like every other battle I have taken on. I only won because ultimately but we are all losing.

For every underqualifed, health care provider who has NOT provided the adequate, there are many more like me. Alienated just enough to give up on fashion, etiquette and social norms, but not enough to walk from it all.

We are keeping watch. We are taking names, and I for one do not give a rat's ass about "keeping the peace."

Having been on both sides if the proverbial couch, I have the perspective is both enlightening and scary at the same time.
I look back and want to say shout "told you so" from the nearest roof top.

Crazy is crazy does... out loud. I may be enjoying this just a little too much.

Sometimes I try to look at this fight, (I meant to say this life) objectively.

I can see my own future, and I can see where it is taking me. I know how it will end it I don't keep up the pace.

It is amazing at how far we will go to have nothing at all.

I have come this far, and on some level I almost enjoy the dance. No. On some level, I actually love the dance.

No. I won't give up now. Because without this turmoil, this means to an end, this demonstration project of futility and determination, and without it, I am nothing at all. I can't lose what I never had. I won’t be another sell-out-- mostly because I don't know how.

I am then the voice of perseverance. I am one voice of perseverance. I am one of 47 million Americans. And today I am I am still fighting the good fight.

This battle; this challenge; this half won war this fight has come to define me. And without that, I am not really much of anything at all...

As someone once told me, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. I've already fallen, but I sure as **** stand for something.

"... so for now, I write. Maybe later listen. And if there is any justice left in this world, maybe someday, I'll actually live. "

Good night, folks. It is time for that break.

Elyssa Durant
Nashville, Tennessee

exclamation Making Ends Meet When You Can't the Paper? (DURANT)
Posted: 10:50:56 pm on 2/3/2009 Modified: Never
Nashville Bar Association and / or Legal Aid have both reviewed my case, and though I meet the eligibility criteria to obtain services, I found them to be very diasorganized in the application process. And simply could not do anything I hadn't already tried...

Limits federal limits for financial and certainly qualify for servies under various ADA protected categories, but what people don't realize is this... All I need is a actual, LIVING-WAGE job.

Trust me, they are harder to find than you might think.

I am certainly far below the income threshold and meet all eligibility requirements for various programs, but all I really want is the opportunity to be judged on my merits-- not be forced to identify myself as a recipient of federal funds so that corporation can CLAIM the welfare to work reduction.

Thanks, but no. I do qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation but the state messed up records so badly that I have absoultely no idea what the status of my PASS application is.

Pro-bono and nonprofits community agencies simply are not set up to deal with such complicated inter-related and complex issues. Legal Aid and TPA have both reviwed and evaluated the status of my case.

Neither handle bankruptcy, student loan disputes, or ERISA disputes. The Disability Law and Advocacy Center did not show up to a scheduled negotiation. My designated representative succeeeded at doing one thing: consitently missing every single possible filing deadline regardless of the how many times I called, wrote, or complained for over three years.

That is negligence in my book.

Forgive me for saying so, but those are "advocates" I could do without. It would be nice if I could find someone who is professional enough to at least show up when THEY are being paid.

It would be so much easier if I could, in fact, find a real paying job, however despite my best efforts, I have found very few people who can be sensitive to my situation and allow reasonable accomodations that are my no means too, too disruptive or annoying.

Unfortuantely I will never meet the criteria of a rank and file employee, however I'm starting to think that maybe employers are not making the best of decisions when I look at how many of them are closing up shop. I need a job that pays, in full, on time, and does not mind my attentiomn (or obsession) to detail.

I even once got fired from Red Lobster the management felt I was "not Red Lobster Material." All in all, I guess that is not such a bad thing, because when I planned goals for myself, I cannot honestly say that being "Red Lobster Material" was not anywhere near the top of my list!

Unforutnately, good intent does not translate into the ability to pay salaries or related expenses such as INTERNET, telephone access or even basic transportation and realted expenses.

I am finding out that there are so many more people out there like myself who are "out-the-door ready and willing to go to work" were it not for the sinking economy and underwhelming job forecasts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I have tried looking at this from every angle, but the bottom line is this: I NEED A JOB!

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I will no doubt be revisit your rsuggestions when I attempt to file my taxes again through the VITA program.

Sincerely yours,

Elyssa Durant
Nashville, Tennessee

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

exclamation Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (DURANT)
Posted: 10:58:37 pm on 2/3/2009 Modified: 11:06:45 pm on 2/3/2009
How did I miss this refreshing post?

Thank you so much for not doubting my efforts and sincerity when I tell you I've tried.

I know exactly how much money I am costing society, but what I have not done is abuse the system any more than it has abused me.

Surely, we all know that it is easy to skate by in American on less than $600 a month. And trust me if you have ANY illness when you go into the system, you will be so far beyond normal by the time you are through. assuming that is, that you are one the privileged elite who can meet their criteria and be poor like me!

I must be pretty freakin dumb if I thought I could try.

Thank you.


Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

  Re: Making Ends Meet When You Can't Afford the Paper (DURANT)
Posted: 11:06:03 pm on 2/3/2009 Modified: Never
Do you still feel I am abusing the welfare system by paying for internet access? Because I would so love it you could donate some wifi access to anyoneother than myself so others can ennjoy that elusive privilege of speaking loud. Surely someone can donate wifi to all us who should go without voice or recognition for using our words on the government's dime. Yeah, I guess you are right, I don't deserve internet access. It makes me angry to see comments like yours that insult my intelligeence and my sense of humor.

Whatever. If it makes you feel any better, I hope you feel just fine.

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

question A Letter to the Editor: Are You Kidding Me? (DURANT)
Posted: 7:35:10 am on 2/4/2009 Modified: Never

I am sorry if you feel that paying $7.50 for an article is too much. The reason as to why we charge for an article is because we offer breaking news before any other publication in Nashville. We have a three-month trial subscription for just $19 if you would like to purchase that. It is only $11.50 more than a single article and you will have full access to our site as well as receive emails alerting you of breaking news.

Please let me know if I can help you.


Allison Anderson
Circulation Coordinator
Nashville Post
624 Grassmere Park
Nashville, TN 37211
(615) 301-9228 (desk)
My Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2009 4:32 PM
To: feedback
Subject: Feedback from Elyssa Durant

I think it really sucks that I can't read the article posted in account login and password. I have enough of those.

I wasted enough money at Vanderbilt. I should not have to pay $7.50 to read about someone else who feels the Powers That Beat are playing a sophisticated game of bait and switch.

Will someone please forward the text of this article to me online?

Thank you in advance!


Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

exclamation Re: Terrified (DURANT)
Posted: 6:07:48 pm on 2/4/2009 Modified: Never
--repeat with me--


I am with you sister! Thank you for coming forward.

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee

question How much am I worth? (DURANT)
Posted: 7:29:51 pm on 2/4/2009 Modified: Never
Morally Bankrupt: How Much Am I Worth?

Last year, it was the election commission... this time it was the Board of Ed who failed to secure the personal information, social security numbers, and financial data of local students and employees.

The Tennessean openly discusses the salary of Metro teachers in the The Tennessean. The reporter makes it sound like she has uncovered some profound secret: Teachers are underpaid. No ****?

The papers seem to gloss over the magnitude if the situation of teacher pay and mobility within Metro Nashville. I wasted a ton of money at Vanderbilt and almost as much in the Ivy League. By investing in a useless program and a worthless degree, I am the first to admit I have made some bad choices, but now I am asking for some advice.


I cannot afford to complete the application, or find transportation to get to an interview.

I am beyond broke. I am so far in debt that I do not even bother to open my mail since it consists only negative balances, bank statements, and letters from collection agencies and the Department of Education.

When I found out that someone recently used my social security number to open an account in Jersey City, I was thrilled at the prospect that my credit score might actually go up!

I never dreamed that I would have to apply for a social services grant simply to find a job. I never thought about fees for fingerprinting, TB tests, official transcripts, examination fees, processing fees necessary to apply a position that really only requires a GED.

As an employee of the Metro Nashville Public Schools, I work part-time as an educator at the "Masters + 30" salary level. I earn $10.46 / hour, before taxes without benefits.

That does not go far, and they are currently eliminating employees, so any chance of a raise or future opportunities for advancement seem unlikely during these tough economic times.

I cannot afford additional application fees or costs associated with the Alternative Certification options, and I certainly do not have the resources required to obtain another undergraduate degree just so I can bypass the 6 months of student teach necessary for Metro to deem me qualified to teach Head Start, pre-k or even adult literacy programs.

The bottom line is this: regardless of good intentions or misguided mentoring, I am a financial burden to you all. I pay taxes out of your taxes. I am absolutely convinced that there must be a better way to live than relying upon government subsidies to keep a roof over my head and Ramen noodles in my tummy.

There is a plethora of young, talented individuals like myself who would be more than willing to work for MNPS or any other company if we could simply access the resources necessary to complete the application. We all know that teacher salary is ridiculous to begin with, so no kudos to the reporter at the Tennessean for pointing out the obvious.

This is the reality I live in. This is poverty. This is why I am hoping that someone out there knows someone or some way that I can contribute more to society than what I am taking. I am a leach on society. I will continue to be a leach on society.

Relying upon the "welfare" of others is a terrible way to live especially when you have something to give back.

People used to laugh when I would inquire about transportation funds, internet access grants or assisted technology funds and resources...

Surely, the AT&T cable bill could have included a measure to assist the disabled and economically challenged members of our community free or discounted online internet service. Certainly one of these big companies coming to Tennessee can help by hiring just one over educated, underemployed, and dedicated employee.

I live so far beneath the poverty line that I am willing to work for the necessities in life that I simply cannot afford such as toothpaste and internet access. I cannot afford the application fees Metro charges for new or returning applicants. I'm not eligible for community training programs or work force development... there are no grant based training programs for people who just made a few bad, BAD investments along the way-- say, for example, a college degree?

I am not too proud to beg for a job or take some free advice if it will help me to get from here to there. I need someone, anyone, willing to give me a chance to prove myself. I need someone to invest in me!

I believe I deserve more out of life than this, and I think that if you knew me, you would think so too. Help become the person I was meant to be. Try to the see the person I could become.

I have so much to contribute, but few resources get there. All I want is a chance. All I need is a mentor. Will someone please take the time to invest in me?

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee


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