I Am Not a Number

The Mona Lisa (or La Joconde, La Gioconda).
Image via Wikipedia

The alarm clock is tuned to BBC Radio 4.  If I hear one more feature on benefit cuts, taxes, the Government, or even cricket, I think I may actually throw the radio out the window.  This is not the kind of stuff I want to wake up to in the morning.  Especially considering I live it.  I see the outcome of benefits and benefit cuts every time I look my bank balance.  I am on benefits.  They have their place.  I would like to be off them, though.  I am not going to comment on the actual statistics and numbers.  Other people have done that better than me.  I left my University Psychology course because of the stats.  I don’t like them.  I’ve never been one.

Every time I listen to a report that rattles off the statistics of people on benefits, I want to shout at the radio/screen, and I sometimes do.  That’s me, you bastard.  I am not a number .  And I want to work.  I’ve liked all the jobs I’ve had.  And I want another one.

I went to the jobcentre yesterday, and they asked for a number before they used my name.  I am not a number.

My name is Lorna.  I write things that aren’t numbers.  I am my parents daughter.  I’m a friend to many, and one man’s girlfriend.  One cat has claimed me as her human.  My favourite colours are purple and green.  I have an aversion to most vegetables, but I like spinach.  I’m not afraid of much, except bad stuff happening to the people I love.  And ferrets.  And vomiting.  Please don’t get me started on vomiting ferrets.  I love country music and subtitled movies.  I hate sirens.  I love to travel.  I’ve been fishing in Norway; I’ve watched German MTV in Prague.    I thought I was in the queue for the toilet in the Louvre, and ended up seeing the (very small) Mona Lisa.  I lit a candle in the Duomo in Florence.  I am not particularly religious, but I believe in my own benevolent angels.

I like looking at old photos, and I looked like Ugly Betty in my seventh grade school photo.  I’ve been doing that a lot lately, looking at old photos.  It’s a way to connect with the person that I am, in a time when others are concerned with my numbers, my income, my diagnosis.

Most people know that I am more than a number, client, customer, a file with a label on it.  For everyone else, there’s my voicemail.

I started this blog to carve out time for me.  Time between appointments and phone calls and home-visits with invasive questions.  My head has been so filled with so much official stuff; there is little room for me stuff.  This is that room.  Yes, I write about the wheels and my own access issues.  It is about the chair, but it’s also about the person sitting in it, and I have a lot to say.


66 thoughts on “I Am Not a Number

  1. I absolutely love this post. I used to always listen to Morning Edition and other NPR programming in the mornings as a way to be informed about all DIFFERENT happenings in my community, country, and globe. It was a great way to wake up, note the past tense. Now I find myself going in my iPod, closing my eyes, and selecting a song at random to which I HOPE I’ll like waking up the next day (If I know what the song is before hand I’ll be annoyed it woke me up)

    “Some of us, we’re hardly ever here. The rest of us, were born to disappear. How do I stop myself from being just a number? How do I keep myself to keep from going under.” – John Mayer

    1. Hi Mona Lisa!! Tks for promoting my blog! How did you find me? Probably you speak portuguese so OBRIGADO!! Concordo plenamente com seu comentario.
      Grande abraco.

  2. “I like looking at old photos, and I looked like Ugly Betty in my seventh grade school photo. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, looking at old photos. It’s a way to connect with the person that I am, in a time when others are concerned with my numbers, my income, my diagnosis.”

    it is an outstanding post. really.

  3. Brilliant post. We are not statistics, we are human beings. It is kind of sad that the only way we are recognized is as a number, as an insignificant part of a group. We are all individuals and we are all different, so why must we be assigned so many numbers? Social security number, employee ID, student ID, telephone number(s), all of it is just a way to ‘keep track’ of us.

    Your blog is your space. Your blog is where you can say “this is who I am, and I am more than merely a number.” A human cannot be classified so easily.

    Wonderful post. You’ve certainly made me think a bit more about identity. Thanks for that.

  4. It could be a message on behalf of many other people. It is on the other hand interesting that human being found numbers and methods to calculate using numbers. It is also interesting that we know how to evaluate many things with numbers. Other livings may not yet know numbers.

  5. Bravo! A fantastic rant about something we typically just accept because “that’s just the way it is”. Being a number sucks…I was a number in university…at the bank…at work…everywhere. Let’s go back to being human…

  6. i am so emotionally attached to this post, because i have become a number, not by choice, but by force…if i am going to receive help, i have to be a number. the thought of the ignorance of some statistics is heartbreaking

  7. I understand about not wanting to here the latest special reports. Sometimes we have to sink into what makes us happiest to remember those parts of us after the worst has happened to us. Keep writing, your words are strong and honest.

  8. On behalf of all statisticians, I apologise! Although it’s really the fault of the people that (mis-)use the stats!

    Incidently, purple and green are also my favourite colours 🙂

  9. Saw a movie once, a short that had the word “Creativity” in the title. It was simply a conversation set at what appeared to be an interview — two people on either side of a desk with one asking the other questions. Started out with personal stuff, answered with words, but as it progressed, some of the answers were just numbers and by the end, even the questions were just numbers until both people spoke numbers only.

    No, we are not numbers but we could dissolve into those easily if we don’t protect what makes us human. Bravo on doing just that. Nice post.

  10. Brilliant! Thank you for saying what quite a few people are feeling right now. And well done on resisting the “just a number” notion. Not everyone is brave enough to assert their humanness in the face of large entities such as government and corporations. Good on you!

  11. Can’t say that I know what it’s like to have to wait for benefits in the UK but it isn’t any picnic in the States either. Had to take them for a year before they told me that I didn’t deserve them and that I had to pay them back. I don’t think you have anything to worry about, you know who you are and at the end of the day, that’s what’s important.

  12. I completely agree with you, Lorna. Congrats on your blog being freshly pressed. Ahhh, numbers numbers numbers numbers, so many numbers. It’s ridiculous. Why can’t people encourage, art, poetry, some culture, anything but statistics!

  13. Hi, I love the way you write your hatefulness on “making human into list of statistics” concept. I am not considering it’s a new breeze, but it was written at its best performance.
    I am new with blogging world, and I found your blog as a very great example.

  14. You most certainly are not a number. Not only do you not accept it, you proclaim it! I love that about you. This was such a good writing that I stayed to read some of your others. I like the way you express yourself and how easy it is to get what you are saying because of the way you express yourself. I will definitely come back often to read more of what you have to say and the easy and natural way you say it. Thank you for writing.

  15. Yep, you are a person. A beautiful intelligent person, too 🙂 Thanks for this. I have more faith in the world that we can recognize each other as humans without listing us alphabetically or by number – the world will never be too big for compassion. Next time you have to give someone your number, introduce yourself (with your lovely name!) and then ask for their name, too. Start a trend 😉

  16. Excellent post Lorna. In Britain we are very good at numbers and statistics aren’t we- I would sometimes say obsessed with them. A friend of mine who went to her (NHS) nurse this morning because of her asthma (which she has had, and has been on medication for, for the past 50(!!!!) years), got told by the said nurse that she does not have asthma because the precentage according to her breathing chart, did not indicate the required amount to qualify it as asthma. Where is the common sense???!!!

  17. We don’t exactly get benefits when unemployed in my country but I think your entry speaks for various cases. I never quite understood how I always felt uncomfortable when customer officers ask me for my eg. application no., my ID no., the colour of my ID, it always makes me feel like I’ve lost individuality – I am labelled, classified, filed away /: Anyway, geat post, loved it. I’ll be looking out for future entries.

  18. >I thought I was in the queue for the toilet in the Louvre, and ended up seeing the (very small) Mona Lisa.<

    I loved the whole post but especially that line.

  19. YES! So much yes. And without getting too political in your comment area, I imagine a lot has become worse for you since 2010, as far as government policies have developed. I really enjoyed this, thank you for sharing it again 🙂

  20. Beautiful words Lorna, and one to really make you think. Numbers are thrown around so easily but people are not numbers; people are unique, individual, stand-alone human beings. But the media and government policies and the so-called decision makers do not have the capability to separate the two.

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