‘Fine. Except that as you may have noticed, I work part time on as needed basis in Florida and I am not always here every Sunday evenings.’

‘In such cases, you can ask your daughter to do it.’

‘I can’t because my daughter doesn’t live with me.’

‘Where does she live?’

‘In Minneapolis with her mother.’

‘But here you have her listed as dependent.’

‘Yes. She is. Because I pay child support.’

‘In that case, we need a copy of your divorce decree.’

‘There was no divorce. Her mother and I were never married!’

It’s at this point that David M. loses it and walks away from me. First mumbling to himself, then I hear him saying out loud to someone behind the partition of the cubicle.

Here is a guy claiming child support and his daughter doesn’t even live with him. Not married or divorced – no divorce papers. To that I hear some muffled conversation behind the confines of the cubicle. Soon I see a sympathetic face of a big black woman stepping out of the side of the cubicle, turn around and look at me. I acknowledge her by looking back and raising my hand in a greeting. She gives me a certain look, smiles back and disappears behind the cubical wall. I hear her say: He’s alright. Some more muffled conversation follows.

David M. Emerges from the cubicle a few minutes later. He stumbles over to his desk, plops himself back on his chair.

‘How long have you been making the child support?’

‘Almost six years now.’

‘Do you have any proof to substantiate the claim?’

‘Yes. The canceled checks.’

‘We need copies of those.’

‘No problem. How many do  you need?’ I think he wants to scream: okay there you smart Alec! But instead he manages to maintain his professional demeanor and says: ‘Just a few, several months apart would do!’

As I happily depart the IDES offices, I couldn’t help but notice David M. picking up my file and walking back, shaking his head. Relieved probably of ridding of someone like me who doesn’t quite fit into any of the slotted categories in their standard form. Little did the poor man know, or for that matter I did, he isn’t done with me quite yet.

A week later I receive my first check along with the pink claim form for me to report my job search and return. Everything goes smooth for a month and a half until I receive a payment for the week I had reported as being the one during which I worked. If I had any common sense, I would have just cashed in the check and waited to see if and when they would discover their error and notify me. Nope. Instead an honest citizen that I am, I call David M. and report to him the over payment and ask him what was I supposed to do with the check? But he doesn’t quite get it. Confused, he retorts:

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