Monday, September 3, 2012

More Bureaucracy and Age

     I have mentioned in several posts that I spent five years in the Arctic as a teacher. At one very isolated settlement I was teacher, principal and Local Administrator. To say the least, I was a very busy boy. I had a mechanic and caretaker to supervise as they ran a little diesel power plant. I looked after everything that pertained to government business in that settlement. It was very interesting but very much work. 

    Two of the problems I spent time on dealt with age. The Dept. in Ottawa, that looked after family allowance, kept asking me if I knew were one certain child was. I would go to the family and ask them, "Where is this child? " They would get a very puzzled look on their faces and say they didn't know what I was talking about.    Three months later I would get another letter and ask the family again. This went on for about a year. One time I had their eldest son as an interpreter. Lukasi was a very good interpreter. They began talking among themselves and finally Lukasi told me that it was a baby that died out on one of the islands when they were  hunting. Somehow the death had not been reported in the community by one of my predecessors. The person may not have ever known of such a child as there were changes in staff. However, someone in the upper bureaucracy knew that the child was missing and pursued it until they got an answer. The family were a little disappointed as the money they had been paid for the deceased child would have to be taken back.

    So my point is that some bureaucrat did his/her job in spite of the difficulties of distance and language.

    The other problem was much simpler and resulted in getting money. A local lady had applied for old age pension. She had been born in the days when very little government operations were present so she didn't have a birth certificate. How was she going to prove her age? It was simple. Her daughter was getting old age pension! End of story. She got her old age pension. 

    These were two of the situations that I had to solve while I was there. It was interesting but I didn't have an awful lot of time to work on it.

23 comments:

  1. oh my goodness - the 2nd one was too funny! the first was sad.

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    1. That's what you call ups and downs!

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  2. A couple of great stories. Seems you were working with one hand tied behind your back.
    You should have been sent on a language course. It's unfair and dangerous to ask you to rely on interpretors.

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    1. Everyone had been used to interpreters so it was not too bad.

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  3. What an interesting experience this must have been for you. So removed from everything.

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  4. I agree - sad and funny. Can you imagine waiting until your daughter was getting her pension before you applied! You have certainly led an interesting life!

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    1. Sometimes these things were not on their radar. Our way of life was completely foreign to them.

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  5. I will bet you are full of interesting stories working in such an exotic area. what a challenge!

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    1. There are many stories but my wife has more as she was a nurse and worked with individuals in their homes.

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  6. Did the same in PNG - you in the snow and me in the tropics. I had to use interpreters - bright school kids. Oh the joys of it all.
    In PNG, you had extended families - big fathers, little fathers - same with the females.
    It was darn near impossible to work out who owned whom! Thankfully up there we didn't in those days have pension problems, just census ones. Oh funny days indeed - God only knows who I guessed who was the REAL father and mother.
    I think we did our best, under extreme circumstances.
    Thanks for the memories - ha ha! Or is that nightmares???
    Interesting post indeed Red!
    Cheers
    Colin (Brisbane.Australia)

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    1. Not really a big deal about these relationships as long as they had something that worked. Thee was a lot of adoption there. Marriages were arranged at birth.

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  7. There are many older Americans who don't have birth certificates, so they will be unable to vote in the upcoming election. It's really very sad, but thanks to YOU, that lady got her Old Age Pension!

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    1. Surprised at this! We only have to show that we are residents to vote. We also have a voters list.

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  8. Red you've sure done some interesting work, I love hearing stories from when you worked way up North and thanks to you this elderly lady received her pension. That's so sad about the child, but another problem resolved thanks to you. I wonder if the family was too scared to report what had transpired or what the story was, I'm guessing it had nothing to do with the small amount of money received each month for family allowance. What was it back then? About $30 a child or something like that?

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. I enjoy reading them.

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    1. To them it was not in their head that they had to report a death.
      The experiences there gave me a whole new way of looking at life and culture and it radically altered my life.

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  9. Very interesting. What a neat life you have lived!


    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

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    1. It was interesting but also stressful.

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  10. Sounds like you had your hands full Red..never a dull day:)

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    1. Yes , it was busy but very very interesting. Much of it makes more sense as time goes by and you have time to relate it to other things.

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  11. What a unique job, I taught for quite a few.

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  12. I love how that lady proved she was eligible for a pension! :)

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  13. You have held very responsible and dangerous jobs Red. It is amazing how some people are so devoted to their work when they can very easily be careless.

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