11 Jan 2017
- By Jaime Vergara
THE National Assistance Program of the CNMI is a great program of food stamps for those like me who seem to have difficulty getting into the regular financial systems on island as most of my “pedagogical” sessions had been on a substitute basis.
I did teach at Saipan Community School until the end of September when I started experiencing physiological challenges, and mental lapses, so in fairness to kids and health, I quit.
I announced that I would head for Hawaii to visit my 96 year old Mom whiling days away at Kaimuki Nursing Care, but Mom indicated that I had better bring my spouse along. Well, USCIS has a different take on that, so we are still on island.
What I thought was going to be a five-month love affair with NAP still goes on. A date at their office in As Lito Jan. 5 was advanced a day when the CNMI declared an official holiday (Christmas and/or New Year), filling the NAP offices full on the 6th. Also, the method that once was standard in paper-based method of bureaucratic service of the individual file folder is no longer necessary in the digital age of computers.
Well, NAP does have the equipment but their methods of service is now antiquated compared to other federal and territorial offices. Not their fault, by any means, but because the office is universally perceived to be a “dole-out” program for indigents, male recipients tend to wear sunglasses even indoors when they come a pick their benefits, and the female of the species bring their young, sign in and wait for their names to be called, shy or boisterous in the process.
That’s when an instant community develops and it looks like some of them know each other enough that folks greet each other on a first name basis. Those with energetic young ones might have second thoughts about bringing them in, but grandma might not be available to baby-sit for them. Besides, they are no different from our new occupant for the White House, so we are getting used to the behavior.
One of the young girls had a t-shirt that blared, “I am sassy and I know it.” I didn’t know if the child’s mother knew what her daughter’s t-shirt said, but I had ‘nuff time to notice. It was one of the young boys sporting a t-shirt “World without strangers” that caught our fancy as a creature of earthrise consciousness.
I taught in the northeast of China near Korea not too long ago, and t-shirts at discount prices in Wo-ai were cheap since the copycats just added a dash or inverted a letter to the legitimate “boutique” line and manufactured tons for the local market. My Chinese spouse wears one that says, “Only you are my Four-le rvcd Clover,” a take on the rare four-leaf clover that adds “luck” to the “faith-hope-love” of the common three-leaf ones.
I got into NAP a good 20 minutes before my appointment (the office watch was a 15-minutes ahead of normal time so the sign-in sheet varied with whichever timepiece one used), so like the rest of the crowd, I signed in and indicated that I had a date. At the appointed time, I went to the indicated window (EW-3) but there was no one there, so I stood on the walkway leading to the exit door that many of the Carolinian clients used as an entry door. The one led into the waiting room had many standing by the door and waiting to be called. When asked if I had to be at the window at the appointed hour, I was told that my name would be called. So I waited.
And waited. That’s how I noticed the words on t-shirts including the Magas nation-proud ones that were on display, the shirt and the wearer “live and in color. Being a “voyeur” by habit, I speculated about who the crowd was. There were several names called who might have been waiting a while and had left, so it was a loud-voiced lady who made it her job to announce if someone was called but left. The office could use a loud speaker to call on clients, or one of those digital displays like the one at the SS office that has the name and number of the current client being served.
In fact, a number system would not be a bad addition. At least, one can guess when it was that someone might be called. It was an hour-and-a-half wait before my name was called, and in two minutes, my business was over; have food for six months.
This is a temporary remedy. The timeframe on the program is to urge clients to get into regular employ so they can contribute to revenue that then help fund the NAP program. Got six months to do that.
It’s my earthrise NAP that is a world without strangers, simply in need, a condition that humans began to deal with since they started being conscious. We’ve created many sob stories on the matter since we became familiar with “need”. The Donald characterized as full of emotional energy, the display of emotions will be our focus a while, as Obama was one dude steadfast on intentionality and reason. One is not contradictory to the other; they are just different. Vive la difference!
Meanwhile, to NAP or not to NAP, is no longer a question.
Opinions expressed by Marianas Variety contributors are their own.