Monday, September 21, 2009

I Am Woman Hear Me Cry

According to the General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans’ mood since 1972, and five other major studies around the world, women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier.
Maureen Dowd in Blue Is the New Black.
"How was your weekend?" a co-worker asked today over lunch. I hesitated.

Should I tell him? I remembered my resolution about not picking up the phone ("In praise of the solid citizen"). But this wasn't a phone conversation, so I blurted out a précis of my weekend of woe.

Turned out he'd read my blog. I asked him in that case, why did he ask, but he just mumbled some man thing which I decided not to follow up.

Then I read Maureen Dowd's Blue Is The New Black and all was explained.
Ah, I realized I had a lousy weekend because I AM Woman. And it's true. Absolutely spot on as usual Ms Dowd.

But before I go on, let me tell you dear reader, that I am becoming a little nervous. First there was the apple-eater from 1969, referred to in "She'll be apples". Three people recognized him from my brief description. Possibly more as for everyone who writes in, there are approximately ten others who think the same thing but do not bother writing.

And then there was the friend's husband of "In praise of the solid citizen". This morning I received an email from a woman in France. "Is that my dad?" it said. It was.

Scary.

So I'm going to be VERY careful from now on, and no one will recognize either themselves, or anyone else. Apart from me, that is...

Last Friday I checked my Australian bank account online. I saw a debit that I did not recognize - September 1 for $1,074.82. The notation indicated it was a check. So I looked through my check book and saw that I had indeed written a check for that exact amount, early January 2009. It was to a rehabilitation center in Australia. The purpose, to pay for someone's daughter to attend a residential rehabilitation program.

Unfortunately the person in question flunked the pre-requisite - Detox 101 - and was barred from entering the program. I'd called the rehab center back last January, and they'd said they'd tear the check up.

So WHO had cashed it? And why?

Ad for Windsor Jewelers (from New York Times 1998)
I called a number of places, including the bank and the rehab center but it was the weekend and I could get no answers.

I then called the father-of-the-person-who-had-been-going-to-attend-the-rehab-back-in-January. A very strange man who doesn't believe in washing machines or telephones and whose life's ambition is to die without ever having written a text message. He's also VERY tall and lives near the sea. Did I mention he plays golf?

I gave him a brief outline of the situation and then said, "Perhaps she got the check and cashed it. What do you think?" "HaHa," he sneered, "And I bet she got a pick axe and attacked your fridge". Clunk.

I should explain, he doesn't believe in phones but he has one. A 1992 mobile with a three feet antenna you have to pull out of its Bakelite housing, given to him by someone who wanted to keep tabs on him no doubt. It broke circa 2001 and he took it back to the shop, demanding it be fixed. When it was explained that it was an obsolete model he became quite unraveled, muttering about how consumerism was ruining society and that in his day pies cost tuppence.

I listened to the Australian dial tone for a while, thinking how there was nothing else I could do. I am forbidden to contact the rehab almost-patient who flunked detox. I had to wait till Australia woke up and ambled to work around 7:10 pm ET USA Sunday night. Two days to go.

It seemed an eternity. But time happens as they say and at 7:11 pm ET USA, I called the bank,

The phone was answered by a young man called Jason. I knew then that I was in BIG trouble. One third of all Australian customer service reps are called Jason. They are easily recognizable not only by their name, but because they talk with their mouths closed and have brothers called Damien.

I explained the situation to Jason. The check. The nine month interval. The drug rehab. The supposed tearing up of the check. The name of the drug rehab place, Windana.

Jason answered as quick as a flash, "It was cashed by Windana!"

I was relieved. BUT then I remembered his name.

"Jason," I asked, are you saying that because you can SEE an image of the check, or because that is who I made it out to?"

"Because that is who you made it out to," replied Jason proudly. "Checks are cashed by the people you make them out to," he added, raising his mouth-muffled voice one decibel, as if to a hearing-challenged moron.

"Hmmm," I thought, "that lad's going to make great career strides at the Commonwealth Bank.

"Get me a supervisor," I snapped, forgetting briefly that I was not talking to a New Yorker, but to an Australian male. Would he hang up?

But no, he put me through. I think he thought I was going to recommend him for a well-deserved promotion.

The supervisor said his name was Paul. What a relief. He immediately looked up the check and said, "No worries mate, she'll be apples. Cashed by Windana, no alterations, all square and above board, have a nice g'day".

I then called Windana to see why they'd not torn up the cheque as requested and what the $$$ were being used for. "For the person you paid them for," said Nadia, a polite non-Jason kind of person. "She's at the rehab now. Would you like me to put you through to see how she's doing?"

And so it was all cleared up. Except for ONE thing. The man-who-doesn't-believe-in-washing-machines. The tall man who lives near the beach. The father of the said person - the rehab patient, the person with whom she'd been living up to her admittance to the facility. He knew she was there. He'd have known why my check was cashed.

"Now why didn't he tell me?" I wondered.

For the life of me, I can think of no sane explanation.

So Ms Dowd, I suppose the reason women aren't a ball of laughs MAY be because there are men like the man-who-doesn't-believe-in-washing-machines in this world ...

Oh, and one last thing ... how DID he know about the fridge?



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