September 10th, 2004

children of dune - leto 1

client and interviewer privilege

Interviewing people for eligibiity for government benefits is, usually, pretty mundane. Question here, verification there, and usually, it goes by clockwork. You could conceivably do it in your sleep. I wouldn't recommend that, but half of all cases are pretty--well, simple.

Then of course, you get the fraudsters.

They make life fun.

It's not that I'm advocating a life of fraudulently ripping millions off the taxpayers or anything for my amusement, but I have to admit, a lot of the fun quotient of my job comes from the days where my thumb itches on the keyboard, when they say something just so--wrong--that I sit up straight, pull my keyboard close, and smile cheerfully.

Lying is like chumming the water, man.

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Other Things That Come Up:

1.) False social security numbers--I have had four clients come in whose social security numbers are being used by someone that isn't them in a different part of Texas. One was a nine-month-old baby. In all honesty, it's pretty easy to get one of those. Through exposure, I think I can even guess where it might be going on.

2.) It hits me, when I read paystubs from illegal aliens, that the fact that these paystubs are holding out SS, taxes, Medicaid, etc, that some of the people I interview *are* users of stolen social security cards or false social security cards--but mostly stolen cards. I can't do anything about it legally or ethically, but the knowledge sometimes just--bothers me. Sometimes a lot.

3.) I desperately want to introduce some of these people to the concept of birth control. I am being really not-nice and not-politically-correct when I think that, but seriously, when you've been on benefits since you were born, never held a job, and are on your fourth kid by your fourth boyfriend, now in jail like the first three.... I'm just saying. It's getting old.

No, I *had* that client. It was surreal.

4.) This is where I sound like a scary conservative--I'm rethinking the concept of citizenship being bestowed by birth on American soil. I'm not like, advocating a citizenship test for everyone or anything like that, but three quarters of the people I see are people who have (two, three, four, five) kids in Mexico, then cross over the border to have the next, and the first thing some of them do is apply for state benefits for the child. Foodstamps, Medicaid, TANF (cash payments). I'm having a moment of weirdness. It will pass.

5.) I could hang Perry for gutting CHiP--Children's health insurance in Texas, for those who don't qualify for Medicaid. I could gut him.

6.) I never really understood why lawyers have to have that client privilege thing, until I started working here and our version of client-interviewer privilege went into effect. I mean, I approved in an intellectual way, because that's what I learned, but it's just sinking in, really, how *much* I can find out about a client, his life, his past, his present, and how much access to private records I have, and how damned important it is that the privilege stays in place. It's not just to protect the client, but to protect *us* from being unethical, from the temptation to be unethical. I can't and don't report the names and addresses of all the undocumented aliens I interview, or the fact they use false social security numbers, or anything else that comes up. I wouldn't even if I wasn't legally bound not to, but it's nice to have that in place, along with procedure for being issued a subpoena or called to testify in court.

So, still not burned-out yet. *grins* I'll give it time.

Update on Family

My family, my two sisters in particular, decided suddenly to go insane in August and early September, along with their husbands/boyfriends. It's a long and kind of degrading story in relation to both (separately, not together) that is so close to Jerry Springer that no matter how many times I try to explain it, I sound like I'm retelling an episode, and I honestly don't believe it myself. I don't think it's ever a good day that I'm the most stable, responsible, and dependable of my parents' children. There is something inherently wrong with that. But everyone seems to be--and this is what's creeping me out--pretending *nothing happened*.

I mean, like *nothing happened* at all, and I mean, it's not like conversation is a mined field you have to tread carefully--it's like there's a big, blank space of time that doesn't exist except, apparently, in my head and my mom's. It's one of the few times that I start looking for unexplained scarring, because amnesia like this feels too X-Filey for me.

I'm also lusting after my brother-in-law's twenty year old stepbrother, parent of a two year old child. I am so going to some kind of special hell. God, I hope he's twenty. He had *better* be twenty and not still nineteen. I mean, on the surface, this is the shallowest of my problems, but it's the one I'm most intimately connected to, since he keeps wandering around in torn shirts and he has the flattest stomach and prettiest smile I've ever seen, and he plays with kids like this way-too-young-and-perfect-god-of-good-fathering. Seriously. My uterus noticed, and my uterus and I both decided during contractions with Child that there was no way in hell we were ever going to go through this again.

Stupid female hormones.

Clubbing tomorrow night. Dens of iniquity to drive the wholesome cuteness of that boy out of my head. And he is cute. And he's a total sci-fi geek. He reads and likes Star Trek and Star Wars and oh God, dammit, I'm twenty-*eight*, I do not, will not molest children who can't even *legally drink* yet.

I may lose my cool if I find out he watches Smallville, though. Or reads comic books. Or mentions Star Trek Voyager in passing. I am only so strong. If he tells me how much he likes Janeway, I mean--really, who could resist that?

*sighs* I am going to go worry about fine lines and exfoliation now. It's safer.