Short version--I create a family of three to test to make sure they can get TANF. This actually requires a working narrative, because whether her husband left her and the baby to starve and if he's the legal father are like, relevant questions. If it doesn't work and it should, I turn in a defect and there's a long back and forth occasionally growing more heated, with the developers saying HDU DOUBT THE CODE IS PERFECT and me going DON'T MAKE ME CALL MY MOM BECAUSE SHE KNOWS THIS SHIT AND SHE WILL FUCKING CUT YOU, but we say it more like "perhaps you should check the list of changes?" and I say "hey, do you mind if I transfer you to my mom?"
Then they look up and see my mom's cubicle five feet away and realize negotiations are over and I've deployed a nuke and there will be no survivors.
For a while, this was pretty much unanswerable. I invoke Mom, and the battle is over. The power of this is not that She Is Always Right--that's a given, and at that point, who cares about right and wrong, kill them all and let Federal Policy sort them out--but that she will fucking cut you, and she will do it in many life-destroying ways that include but are not limited to turning meetings into horror in which she will ask "So what part of X Welfare Policy are we talking about?" In this meeting, that is like asking someone "what color are your shoes? Blue? I need to look up 'blue' and why it's called that. No one can do anything until I'm sure all of us know what the color is, but most importantly and in excruciating detail, what it is not." There are weeks of perpetual meetings. They know life is over.
This is where I failed; I would deploy my nuke consistently within sixish exchanges because I'm tired of talking it out. So consistent was I, in fact, that the times I didn't were noted. Deploying Mom at them does not necessarily mean I won or lost--it means that even in the event I lose and the defect stands, they're going to be punished for it, and boy, are they going to wish I'd been drowned at birth. So one day, noting I was still fighting about a defect after more than a few days, they took a chance and during a conversation where I said (though in Politese) "HDU DOUBT ME DOING THIS WILL KILL MY SINGLE MOTHER CLIENT" they then said, "YOUR MOM IS ON THE OTHER LINE TRANSFERRING HAVE FUN WITH THAT." Honestly, I think that was actually what they said.
Oh fuck me.
See, when I don't invoke Mom and her rain of blood, there's probably a very good reason. And by probably, I mean there is a good reason; we disagreed about policy, and the last time we talked, I didn't imply but outright stated this would kill babies and she was never going to sleep again without seeing their faces or know their mothers were now prostitutes and illegal income means self-employment and no work related deductions but at least they don't have to pay for daycare, so well done Mom.**
Thing is, technically speaking, during our argument, my mother is not wrong. It's more I believe my right is better than her right because--okay, just, I'm more right.
My mom does not like people doubting Her Knowledge of Policy; that's why you end up at meetings about "what is the meaning of blue again? Maybe we need a second source." Her daughter has already accused her of outright homicide and occasionally, a very metaphorical form of genocide; a developer calling her to tell her that I'm still fighting for the defect is like me trying to send a lynch mob after her to get brutal justice for my imaginary clients and then letting all her crops in Farmville die.
To put it this way; I sic my mom on developers, they have sucky meetings. Horrible. But. When they sic her on me, I have offended the entirety of the agency and the state of Texas. There's no safe space in the world and I get all my defects policy-checked by someone who can cite it by memory, chapter, verse, line and year of implementation. She also deploys my son because the little shit will take bribes. Sometimes, talk radio is involved.
This is a long way to say, I just finished exchange six and I can't keep my phone off the hook forever. Just until the end of the day. And it won't. Fucking. End.
** I need to clarify how I can do that when I'm in a cubicle and the person behind me asked if I was okay because I held my breath once. I quoted self-employment policy, the section and number of restrictions on illegal income deductions, and then mentioned how clothes were expensive. There are a lot of illegal incomes, but the main ones we refer to are drug dealer and prostitute. And drug dealers would have no legitimate grounds to deduct clothing as a work related expense if it was legal to even deduct a work related expense if your income is illegal. Then I mentioned that the change in policy on dependent care. We can do this for hours. It never ends well.
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