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Who was right Eddie or Me? Ask the Readers

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Nearing the end of my working life I told anyone who cared to listen that I had never in my life thrown a sickie nor taken a penny from the state in benefits of any kind. I am still waiting for the accolades and I am not holding my breath. My neighbor Eddy was bemused by my overblown pride as an example to the feckless of society. 

Eddy was a strong family man who was as fit as a butcher’s dog. I guessed him to be in his late thirties or in his early forties. As a doting husband, he adored his wife and lived for his children. Neither wanted for much; the family was well-fed and beautifully dressed.

My friend rented his home from the local authority. Being unemployed he didn’t pay more than a token rent or his local taxes. Being on benefits the taxpayers coughed up. They also coughed up for door and window replacements, food, furniture, clothing, healthcare: you name it ~ Eddy didn’t pay for it.

Maybe they paid for his expensive fishing rods too for my neighbor who owned a car and loved going on fishing trips with his buddies. He often invited me to accompany him and his unemployed friends but I was too busy working. Incidentally, the car was also paid for by the taxpayers because he claimed, ‘he needed a car to look for work.’

Here’s the catch: Eddy despite his age and apparent good life had never done a day’s work in his life. No, I tell a lie. Eddy had once been employed by the local authority as a public gardens groundsman.

One day, Eddy …. In fact, I think it was his first and only day at work, my friend met with an accident. Not serious but enough to damage his spine ~ so Eddy said and who could possibly doubt Eddy’s word? From that ‘accident’ on Eddy got a free ride whilst the rest of the world worked for Eddy and his family and millions like them.

Finally, I fell on hard times. As my pride wouldn’t allow me to milk the system, I sold everything including my library to keep body and soul together.

When I finally ran out of stuff to sell my girlfriend told me that as I was only claiming on a state insurance policy that I had paid into throughout my working life I should ‘go on the dole.’

Shuddering with distaste and humiliation I ventured into the labyrinths of the Benefits Office where I humiliated myself before an idling young clerk. Eventually, and after an excruciating distasteful means test, I was granted the equivalent of $60 a week.

Eddy smiled, ‘It is because you are new to this and you don’t know the ropes. I think it’s a bit too late for me to show you how it is done.

‘May I suggest that you get yourself elected as a Member of Parliament,’ he said. ‘They are the real professionals when it comes to milking the system.’ You can share this story on social media:

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