Beyond the third wave

It’s my personal experience of life that events come in waves. Something happens that has a material impact on your life and you respond and deal with it. Then the second wave comes, often compounding the effects of the first wave and threatening to derail all your efforts to repair the situation. It’s tough in material terms, and often a real struggle to survive. Psychologically this is when it hits you. Then comes the third wave.

I’m not sure which wave I’m dealing with, but I think I’ve gone beyond the third. Most of the last 4-5 years has been about enduring and surviving these events. For much of that time it was very much touch and go. As is well documented, at its nadir I was not just unemployed and broke, but also homeless.

I’ve managed to claw back a bit since then, though I’m a long way from sitting pretty. I’m employed again, modestly, and now have a home, temporarily. I remain broke and struggle to get by day-to-day, and from a broader perspective have a mountain of debt I’ve somehow got to deal with.

I’ve pushed ahead, however. It helps that I’m a crotchety, pig-headed type. I don’t like to lose and like being a victim even less. I’ve refused to submit to my challenges and for the most part have had faith enough to believe that I could forge a new future again. There have been days of pure angst, but surprisingly few considering. I’ve remained functional.

I realised today that the next wave has hit me. It’s nothing I’ve done, nothing really has happened, it’s just the way the world has moved. There seems something inevitable about it though. It was always going to come. At the same time there’s the belief that if I can get by this then it will be better. This is my last challenge in this sequence to surmount. It won’t be easy though.

When I heard that I had to move home I was not surprised, nor did I have any inkling that it represented anything more than a random inevitability. The fact that it likely meant that I would be homeless again, if only for a brief period, was cause for momentary angst. It was not something to look forward to, and something to be avoided if at all possible – but at the same time I have become resigned to these setbacks. As awful as it might seem, I knew I would endure.

Then as I drove home last night I received some unwelcome news on another front. It was my sister. Some mail for me had been delivered to her place, and in error she opened one of the letters. It said that at the end of the month my driver’s licence would be suspended for 6 months.

Taken together these things – a period of homelessness, if not flux, and the loss of my licence, represent the next wave of challenges. Toss in there my job if you wish – that’s something else I have to deal with.

The situation with my licence has been a slow burn. When I was homeless I spent a lot of time in my car, and travelled long distances between beds. Throughout that period I wracked up a series of minor infringements, some of which I accepted as legitimate, some of which I disputed. In any case I had no capacity to pay the fines and was encouraged to have these penalties revoked on the grounds of special circumstances. You may remember it was last year I made an appearance in Melbourne Magistrates court for reasons related to that.

Basically you’re entitled to a special circumstances revocation if you were homeless and can prove a connection between that and the infringements. As part of the application I was required to supply supplementary documentation. I did all of this. Not only did I fit the criteria very neatly, I also had letters from a local housing association, and a doctor, attesting to my status. My original application was rejected, as have every appeal since.

This stuck in my craw. From a personal and financial perspective it was very inconvenient – the original infringements have multiplied in value about fourfold. It was the principle that really riled me though. It’s my provision, it’s theirs. If they put it out there then they have to take responsibility for properly and fairly administering it. My circumstances seemed a slam dunk, and yet I was being refused. It didn’t know if it was incompetent bureaucracy or conspiracy, but I took it personally. I’m the type the go harder as soon as you say no to me.

That’s been the story over the last 18 months. I’ve appealed again and again. I’ve sent angry letters. I’ve appeared in court. Earlier this year I enlisted the services of my local government MP, who has represented my case to the Attorney General’s office. Nothing much has come of this but to delay the process. I’ve bought time, but not the result I’ve demanded.

Through February and March this years I was listed to appear in court to defend my case. I couldn’t make those court dates, and informed the court. In the first instance I told them that my pay would be docked for the time I took to attend court. This was a big thing for me given my parlous financial state, and counter-intuitive in the sense that what I might gain on the one hand I would be losing from the other. The more substantial reason I gave was that there was an ongoing review of my case and it would be more sensible to delay proceedings until those findings were known.

The response I received was reasonable, but ultimately inadequate. I was told that my request would be put to the presiding magistrates, but ultimately it was at his/her discretion. Seemingly they chose to proceed with the cases despite my pleas, and in my absence found I had a case to answer. The result of that is that the infringements go back to the department responsible, and the wheels begin  to turn again. Effectively a logjam of cases for matters dating back over two years have been cleared in the space of 6-8 weeks, and the infringements confirmed the demerit points rang up the till. Ergo, licence suspended.

I spent some time this morning on the phone following all this up – I don’t have the correspondence to refer to. I’ve written again to my MP – more particularly his electoral officer, a very decent human being just as frustrated as me. Then I lodged a complaint with the Victorian Ombudsman. Enough is enough. I’m contemplating speaking to the likes of Slater & Gordon, but will sleep on that notion.

In practical terms that in about three weeks time I won’t be allowed to drive. Obviously that will have noted impact on my life. I’ve got to find a way to annul that decision before then. It’s draining to have to fight so, but the alternative is not an option. I can’t afford to lose, and besides, I just can’t let this travesty lay. I can’t let the bastards win.


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