Down and Out in Ottawa

Now that the Conservative jobs and growth priority is in phase… one? two? three? and lots of Canadians employed by the federal government are being laid off (guilty as charged) so begins the search for employment again.

Ah well, somebody must be making money, right? Just a matter of finding out who that somebody is and hitting him up for a job, I guess. After all, he owes us. As Obama more or less said before he went to sleep during that debate, “We’re all Communists now”.

Naturally, having worked in the federal government for three years straight as a temporary hire (in the same job, too, which used to mean the federal government was obligated to hire me on a permanent basis, but as my union to which I paid dues put when I called him about it, “sorry honey, I got bigger fish to fry”), my employment strategy is to head back for more of the same. But before I tell you about my day yesterday, dear Sooey Says reader(s), I just want to update you on Shelley.

Some time ago I blogged about Shelley, who was looking when last I saw her like the opposite of Mary Tyler Moore when she throws her tam up in the air and the song sings “yer gonna make it after all”. Shelley didn’t look like she was going to make it at all. But, of course, life for a single young woman addicted to meth? (maybe – I never asked what she took to get through her day) on the streets of Ottawa is a slight remove from life for a single young woman on the move but with a groovy apartment, awesome job and great hair.

And no man to drag her down, which was Mary Tyler Moore’s best dig at Grant Tinker, her former producer husband, I thought. Because no offense, men, but there’s a reason why there’s no reverse of the expression, “behind every successful man there’s a woman doing all the other work for free”.

Anyway, Shelley is the woman I started giving $20 to whenever I ran into her asking for money, or, as they say, panhandling. It was really a personal thing, I got tired of myself, my scottish presbyterianism (i.e. cheapskatedness), and decided to change my life by giving more money than I was really comfortable giving, to Shelley. Much to my embarrassment, too, Shelley totally recognized my uneasiness the first time I gave her $20 instead of the usual small change and asked, “Are you sure?” Adding, to make it perfectly clear what she meant, “That’s very generous of you?”

And so the die was cast. Over time I probably gave her close to $200 (I deliberately didn’t keep track because I’m actually that much of a scrooge mcduck and didn’t want to know) and there were certainly ups and downs in terms of how she looked each time, but she’d also made my acquaintance and recognized me on those occasions when we crossed paths, so I chose to believe she was on her way up in the world, the only direction, realistically, she could go.

I hadn’t seen her for a while, which gave me a vague unease, I admit, when about a month ago I was waiting for a bus and there she was, coming by asking for change. When she got to me, I had a $20 for her and she said, looking so much better than the last time I’d seen her, “Hey, I recognize you! I want to tell you something – I’m getting a place to live and I’m gonna have a job one day a week now! You really helped me a lot and I just want to say thanks! I still have to do this (she meant panhandle) for a while, but pretty soon I won’t have to.”

So I said, “Hey, panhandling is work, too, nobody has to give you money. I work for the government, by the way, so this is on it.” And I gave her the $20.

“Hey, maybe one day I’ll work for the government, too!” she laughed, waving the $20.

Then she hugged me and went on her way. She even hesitated with the hug (I turn into a stick when people hug me) but took a chance on me anyway, which felt really good. Plus, the hug made me look like philanthropist of the year in front of all the other bus people.

Still, I didn’t have the heart to tell her about Stephen Harper’s jobs and growth strategy, so we left it at that and here’s hoping all’s well that end’s well and just because Shelley is moving up I won’t be moving down. (Which is highly unlikely since I’m like a Canadian corporation and have been sitting on my little fortune instead of spending it because I don’t trust Stephen Harper to know what the hell he’s doing either.)

So yes, day one of my job search was really a hangover from when I was still employed and I applied for one of those jobs only people already working in the government can apply for – what? you didn’t realize your government runs a closed shop on some job competitions, dear Sooey Says reader(s)?

Oh yes. The government runs a very closed shop on many job competitions. So closed a shop that even insiders have to do exams all over again to apply for jobs at levels they’re already in, followed by interviews that are designed to weed out anyone not insider enough yet to get it that using “key words” is as important as inventing a conflict with a co-worker that you resolved by following conflict management procedures as opposed to just lucking out when the crazy bitch went ape-shit at your manager and ended up getting frog-marched out of the building by security.

(I once had an interviewer prompt me for a word I kept neglecting to use so he wouldn’t have to fail me on every single interview question including the non-question “ability to communicate orally”. The word was “stakeholder”, if you’re heading for a government job interview, dear Sooey Says reader(s). Oh, and “product”. Say “product” every now and again as if you’re applying for a spot on an infomercial and not the public service.)

I don’t want to say which department (i.e. ministry, as we used to say before the government changed the word ministry to the word department) I was applying to because I have wondered aloud on the internet if the minister of it is the homosexual lover of Stephen Harper, and also I promised not to reveal any of the exam questions.

(Although, if you’re applying for a government job, I would suggest you be able to describe the federal decision-making process – I answered, “The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), a private lobby firm, tells the publicly funded lobbyists in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), that it wants X, and whichever boot-licking toady (DM) is responsible for procuring X salutes and clicks his heels together and instructs his boot-licking toadies (senior management) to forget whatever everybody (lackey) under it is working on that may or may not be for the public good and produce X for the lobbyists lobbying the lobbyists in the CPC.”)

Anyway, after that I went to a couple of business establishments to tell them that I wouldn’t be making any purchases today because Stephen Harper’s jobs and growth strategy has led to my unemployment and I have to conserve funds in case I’m not successful in trying to get a government job from outside the government, as opposed to from within it, where I didn’t have any success at all – unless I pass the exam described above and then go on to pass the interview – and already I’m forgetting how to speak governmentese, so that is less and less likely with each passing second.

So although I plan to provide regular updates on my own jobs and growth strategy (as opposed to Ol’ Helmet Head’s), I did want to put it out there for anybody looking to invest that my own time/money investment in Shelley really looks to have paid off. Now I’m thinking that if she can make it back from homelessness and drug addiction to having an actual job one day a week, it’s only a matter of time before I get the magic decoder ring that lets me back into the government as a temporary lackey of one kind or another.