Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Phantom Menace in Starbucks Bin

When I wrote a piece for Comment is Free last month, there was more I wanted to write which wouldn't have all fitted in the main article, not by a long-shot. As all threads do, the thread in the comments below the line slowly died and fewer people read the supplements I wrote. I've decided to reproduce them here for recognition's sake as I can hardly stick them on a CV. Here is the first, the second will be posted tomorrow evening.


This supplement is going to give you too much information. You probably had it coming. Having twice being assessed for DLA and probably facing a third this year I have but one comfort in schadenfraude: as stressful and harrowing as it will be for me I will also make it horrific for the assessor. I noticed the second time that the doctor sent to make a personal medical assessment(unlike ATOS administering the Working Capability Assessment; real doctors are used for DLA) was a different guy, which I thought odd because they would be more able to judge of any improvement in my genetic neurological lifelong disability had occured if they were the same person. Maybe the first one didn't want to come back or maybe the administration of DLA medical assessments is just incompetent.

I have previously said and still would say I would rather hack off a limb than face another DLA assessment and I will be doing everything I can to avoid one. Shame I don't know any actual benefit cheats like some Mail readers; they'd be able to tell me how to avoid any chance of being chucked off. But maybe not as the assessments are not the ordeal they are for cheats that they are for genuine claimants. Hint: making assessments harder to pass does not make them harder for frauds who have nothing to lose by trying.

One thing a fraud can do that isn't available to many genuine claimants is that they can practice; make up a story that you're an undercover cop that has infiltrated a group of sexy but dangerous hippies and bedded them then you're simply a liar. If you actually are an undercover cop, saying so has consequences beyond just being a liar. Say your day to day life is like so when it isn't, say you struggle with this when you don't and it's not a problem; you have no attachment to that narrative of yourself, you can discard it like a DVD collection when Blu-Ray came along. If the narrative however is very consistent with your actual day to day life; you're stuck with it. If you try to hold some detail back because it's embarrassing, could lose you friends if your mum supporting you can't keep it to herself or heaven forbid: it could could be a devastating revelation to her, then holding this information back could cost you a claim. 

A DLA assessmor brings it on themselves; they ask for too much information and they get it, all of it and with no filter. For many genuine claimants to practice this assessment with a friend, advocate or family member means risking the same social implications. You want to do it with as few people as possible, preferably none, including the assessor. It makes it difficult to talk to even my best friend about how my disability affects me. 

How do I tell them about my first visit to a Starbucks? This was nine years ago and I ordered a big-ass('venti') 'mocha'(choglud coffee) and I could swear one gulp caused my brain to speed up fast enough to see a second into the future. Was tasty too and I drank it quite fast, then my bowel kicked in. I needed to 'go'. The place wasn't busy and the crapper wasn't occupied, to anyone else there was no barrier or obstacle preventing them using it. But the sign on the wall once I locked myself inside said "Please only put sanitary towels down the toilet". I wrestle with an understanding of language that is inclusionary rather than exclusionary: I consider all the possible meanings of a phrase and must then rule as many out as I can by deduction. This makes for a literal interpretation of many things and this sign was explicitly ruling out any contents going in besides sanitary towels which I deduced to include toilet paper, tampons or pads and drying paper. 

The room and the pot was extremely clean, perhaps because Starbucks seemed to forbid their customers from using their facilities for what they are usually used for everywhere else. I really needed to go and I wouldn't be able to make it to the next nearest public bog that accepted human waste directly. There was a sink but I needed to wash my hands afterwards, then there was a bin: a large, brown bin with a black bag in it and no visible instructions for what could and couldn't go in. It was right next to the recepticle. That couldn't be a coincidence even if there was no smell coming from it; I was so smart, being the first person ever to work out what Starbucks wanted customers to do in the WC. I could still flush the used toilet paper down the john, which for years unconscientious morons had been using directly and probably getting the staff at that Starbucks into all sorts of trouble. When the girl(nearly all staff seem to be female) goes in after closing time to change the bin she would recieved the greatest tip of all: a customer finally obeyed the sign. 

I can tell you that because to you I am a pseudonym, disembodied text on the world wide web and it happened long ago(ish). This will not harm my standing with anyone I know. It's a secret between you, me, my mum, a few hundred more of you and two past and innumerable future DLA assessors. The difference being that my mum and the DLA assessors know me personally(or at least seen me). Being Autistic does not spare me the humiliation. Lots of funny things happen in my life and they are funny but they are also too much information for something so serious. In what other area of life and against what other group of people does the state demand so much personal and intimate information? Yet the voices of the so-called 'libertarian' Right demand more of it. They even demand it personally like they did in my previous Guardian article. If you wish to know how I get dressed, undressed and bathe then I'd think your motives are kind of creepy but it is what they were asking to know.
But it's too much information.

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