A few months ago, I applied for the Peer Support Workers' training program through Vancouver Coastal Health. This is the second time that I've made the same application. Last year they had sixty applicants for their twenty places, and I was not selected. This time, there were only forty candidates, but I still missed the cut. I was beginning to feel as though there could have been twenty-one candidates, and I would not have been picked.
I got over it - after all, I did have a Plan B, which involved taking a course in Community Counselling at Vancouver Community College. I'm almost certain that my application package is under one of the big litter boxes, so as you can see, I am prepared to explore other options.
Fortunately, I didn't need to find my compass and sextant this time. I got a call three weeks ago from one of the co-ordinators of the PSW program, telling me that she had two withdrawals from this year's group, and asking if I would like one of the vacancies.
I said "yes, please!".
I got the call on a Friday afternoon, and she advised me that she would mail the acceptance package to me on the following Tuesday. It still hadn't arrived by the next Friday, nor the next, nor the next...
Now, all of us make jokes about how slowly Canada Post moves our mail, but they aren't that bad! I called VCH last Friday afternoon to ask if my package might not have been sent. The two people I wanted to talk to are away from the office until September 20th. The woman who is filling in for them offered to find me a replacement package and mail it to me. I enquired if I might pick it up instead.
Yesterday, I dropped by their office, and picked up a single page letter of congratulation, marked with an apology from my new friend, telling me that it was the only relevant document that she could find. Since it listed the date and time of the first class, along with the address, I was pretty certain that it was all that I would require for the moment. But it also advised me that I would need to go to the Vancouver Police Department and complete a Criminal Record check before the class began.
I have had Criminal Record checks completed before, and I know that they take two to three weeks. I need to have mine in nine days! Of course, I have a good excuse, and I can always ask for a deferral for the first lesson - I may not get it, but I can ask!
And so it was, armed with my letter of acceptance, the purity of my heart and my kindly, honest face, that I followed the Road Paved with Good Intentions to the doors of 2120 Cambie Street.
Not too long ago, VPD would accept CRC applications at 312 Main Street, but that's just one of the things that's changed. Now, you enter the New, Improved Police Station, and speak to the young woman at the reception wicket. She examines your two pieces of identification, asks a couple of pertinent questions and issues a number tag to you. My tag said "45", and the sign on the wall read "35". I picked up a clipboard, a request for investigation form and sat down feeling a bit like Arlo Guthrie at Whitehall Street. I filled my form out quickly and carefully, making sure that I'd signed where I needed to sign, ensuring that I'd ticked all of the right boxes.
I was still waiting forty-five minutes later when one of my FaceBook buddies and known associates walked in the door to take her turn at the same process. The sign on the wall now said "41".
After just a few minutes more, it was my turn, and I was beckoned over by another pleasant, young woman, who took my letter, my application and my two pieces of ID. She asked me a few more pertinent questions, filled in the spaces that she was supposed to fill in, and told me that the cost of the application would be seventy dollars - which I'd expected - that my CRC would be completed in three to four months, and that the fingerprints would cost me twenty-five dollars more!
I have never been fingerprinted. Somehow, it's been an event that I've managed to avoid in the course of the misadventures that comprise my life story (the reader and all of the cats yawn). But, I asked myself, how bad can it be? After all, it's only ink to skin to paper - right? It can't be all that traumatic, can it? The pleasant, young woman took me into a room that was roughly the size of a toilet cubicle in a public washroom, inked a board on the counter, and tried to roll my fingers onto it, telling me to "just relax". Several attempts later, yet a third pleasant, young woman informed me that I had marred and defaced enough of her ten-cards, and I was free to leave the building. Honestly - I was trying my very best! It's not like I smeared the ink on my face and did my Al Jolson impression.
Since I had no urgent appointments this afternoon, I stayed behind to wait for my friend. I'd spent two hours at this little exercise, but I could have gone on for two or three more - I'm not proud...or tired. As it happened, she was through just a few minutes after me. She'd come in with the same letter for the same course, filled in the same application, but had been processed by a different clerk.
It cost her twenty-five dollars, and her CRC will be completed in two or three weeks.
And Hell, she didn't even get to fingerpaint!