66

I get a social security check once a month, and once a month I am reminded how little my working contribution was appreciated. For the amount of annoyance this check gives me, I really should tell the US government to keep it.

For my 50 years of working (I started at the tennis courts counter, see 15), I A) worked for low wages, or B) was self-employed, or C) worked for nothing just trying to keep the business afloat, or D) worked full-time at home raising three kids and keeping a household running. Or E) All the above at the same time.

My husband and were self-employed most of our working years. We paid taxes all right, but we didn’t pay into social security. But even counting the 2–4 years when we were on someone else’s payroll, I can’t for the life of me see why my husband gets five times as much social security as I do. His social security isn’t enough to live on, but mine isn’t enough to hire a cleaning lady. It’s not enough to pay for a teeth cleaning. It’s not enough to take a train on a senior citizen’s discount.

I’m feeling pretty bitchy, this 65. I hired lots of people over the years. I started several businesses. I taught college, ran a library, wrote for a newspaper, and served on volunteer boards. And on the home front, I not only raised three kids, I grew and canned vegetables, mowed grass, wrote books, drove an amputee for 8 months, drove an Amish lady for a year, drove to see aging parents once a month, sewed clothing and costumes, and did bookkeeping for all of the above.

Why is none of this counted?

Why in 2020 am I even talking about this when paychecks haven’t gotten close to parity? We need equal pay for equal work first, right? And then we’ll talk about all the work that doesn’t get any pay?

Right now the Republican Senate is trying to cut the economic pie into thinner and thinner slivers, weighing each situation as though anyone were spared the hardships of coronavirus. The desperate times have made it ever more apparent that qualifying guidelines are a crock. They are an excuse for not paying people who aren’t in the club and don’t know the secret handshake. Republicans shouldn’t be deciding who gets rewarded and who doesn’t. A sane and supportive government would realize that everyone deserves equal treatment. Period.

When we get to the finish line on this pandemic, let’s work at recognizing everyone’s work. Period. And spare me this once-a-month reminder, thanks to the SSA, of a society that values me so little.

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