Thursday, February 27, 2003

Have ovaries, will travel.

After yet another frustrating meeting with Miss Deadfish, I am thinking that maybe she is under the false impression that this program is being funded out of her own pocket. She is doing her best to discourage me enough so that I just give up and go away. I am missing one form from the government.

She is like a dog with a bone, she wants the blue form,

�But the yellow form says exactly the same thing.� I point out to her the information on the yellow form that she needs from the illusive blue form.

�I must have the blue form.�

�How about if I put the yellow form in my jeans pocket and run it through the washing machine. Wait, no, that wouldn�t work, that would just make it green. Would you take the green? You know, split the difference?�

Miss Deadfish is not amused. She seems pissed that her job, (working with the public) forces her to work with the actual public.

So, now I feel like a real loser. Not only do I not have a job but apparently I am a complete incompetent for not being able to secure the Holy Grail of government forms, the blue form. My phone rings and it is my friends mother. We chat as I warm up the car and after a minute she says, �You need to go to the Women�s Center�.

�Never heard of it, aren't� places like that just for battered women?� No, she says, she went there when she was trying to get her pension. She gives me directions. Can�t hurt, not like I have anywhere else to go.

So, I find this little house down by the waterfront and brace myself for a long wait and yet another round of talks with government bureaucrats. The sign on the door reads:

- - Welcome to the Women�s Center. Give the door a kick, sometimes it sticks. - -

I like the sounds of this place already. I walk in and am immediately greeted by, not one, but two women in jeans and t-shirts who smile and say in unison, �Hi, can I help you?�

�You already have, you smiled at me. But I need someone who can cut through some red tape for me.�

I am promptly escorted to see Bernadette. Bernadette is a very charming woman in her late 40�s early 50�s who immediately makes me feel at home, her office is on the top floor of the house. She directs me to a very comfortable couch at the back of the office, offers me coffee and I spill my guts like we were old friends.

It is her job, Bernadette informs me, to bitch slap the bureaucrats and pry the money out of their cold dead hands. The money, she tells me, I am entitled to and should not have to beg for. In fact she is heading out the next morning to brow beat the government so they don�t cut any more services for women. I believe that there will be more than a few politicians, come Monday morning, with Bernadette�s hand print branded on their cheeks.

She tells me that she will take care of everything, she has connections. The first thing she does is call the immediate supervisor of Miss Deadfish and solves the �blue form� controversy. She chats up the supervisor and is assured that my application will be rushed through. Then she makes me an appointment with a career councillor and calls the local college to see about seats for the upcoming course that I am interested in.

Bernadette gets this done in an hour, and that is including the time it took me to spill my guts. By the time I get home (15 minutes later) there are two messages on my machine, one from the career councillor confirming my appointment and one from Bernadette. She has heard from the college and as soon as my application is confirmed I can talk to someone about getting that seat.

Ladies, if you have a Women�s Center in your area, don�t assume it is just for battered women. Its for every woman. They know all the programs, and deal with bureaucrats everyday and know who to call and what to ask for. The only prerequisite is that you have ovaries.

Finally one good thing about my monthly visit from Aunt Flo, she introduced me to Bernadette.

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