Since my various part-time remunerative activities have now been reduced to zero, E.g. thought it wise to pass on a suggestion from the building receptionist where she works.
“Turtle should go work in a polling station on election day,” said Flavinia.
“Great idea,” replied E.g., and took down the phone number.
“Great idea,” I thought, when I received E.g.’s e-mail, before going back to my new game of Packntoss.
That was yesterday.
This morning I was out with the furchildren at the dogpark, when my hip pocket rang. It was E.g. It is almost always, in fact, E.g., because our couple’s plan allows us to phone each other for free. I don’t give anyone else my number, and can’t even remember it. It’s a nice private adventure, our cell phones, like walkie-talkies between two mountain explorers.
“So, did you call Elections Canada yet?”
“We had an agreement, remember?”
“I would call for an appointment with the dentist, and you would call about the job.”
“I don’t remember that.”
“Well, I do. And they had a cancellation, and my appointment’s the same time as yours. I’m going to call you again in half an hour to see if you’ve phoned the elections office.”
The election is on the 14th. How could there be any polling-station vacancies left? What would prevent the phone answerer from snickering in derision at my ridiculous query? Why would anyone want to hire me, anyway? Blah blah blibbityblah — suddenly my pocket was ringing and my mouth was full of summer sausage.
“Sho, like, it’sh probably too late anyway. They won’t need me.”
“Look, Flavinia is in the know about things like this. Besides, what would it cost to just call and get a yes or no answer?”
“The remaining shreds of my self-esteem?”
This answer was not, however, satisfactory to my exacting partner. So I wrote out the phrase that E.g. suggested and set the cell phone down in front of me, with E.g. still on the line, while I dialed the home phone.
The first time, I was given a different number to call.
The second time, I was given a different different number to call.
The third time, after being put on hold three minutes, I suggested E.g. hang up, and I would take my chances. I was finally told that the person I wanted to speak to was unavailable, and could I try again in twenty minutes?
Twenty minutes later, after holding for five minutes or so (no muzak or anything) , I was told by an automatic recording to please try again later.
In all, I made five phone calls and was transferred about eleven times.
“I would like to know if there are any more openings for work at the poll stations on election day.” It’s amazing how much one’s voice changes when asking about job opportunities, even after only the sixth or seventh repetition. The fact that no one ever said “No” made me more hopeful, and I went from sounding like someone barely old enough to vote to sounding like — well, her big sister, at least.
Finally a nice fellow replied, “There certainly are!” to my inquiry. He even knew how to spell my oddly-spelled street.
There was a moment of high drama when he asked for my Social Insurance Number. Yanking all the I.D. pieces from my wallet, I flipped through everything from my bank card to my Justice to Ostriches Society membership. No SIN card.
I apologized as I skipped upstairs with the phone (cordless is so cool!) to my dresser. I had left this card at home when I went to France, and hadn’t put it back in my wallet. What, I’m organized! It’s only been… four months…
I also, of course, was unable to tell him my cell phone number.
But he signed me up as a poll clerk anyway. Scary thought, isn’t it?
There’s an information session tomorrow, just after I get my teeth cleaned at the dentist’s. At least I’ll look my best. After all, this will be my first government job!