I have been putting off filling in the forms I must attend to on behalf of my mother. After the third attempt at applying for my Dad’s super I feel like giving up. Always in need of certification, or a photocopier. I have given my address for my mother to make it more streamlined so that mail comes straight to me instead of to the nursing home but the super company wants a letter with her residential address on it. Nothing else will do. To forge or not to forge. In the end I must go to Centrelink.
It is raining after all and I cannot walk the dog. I wanted to try a new route near the river. New smells for him. I wanted him to run through weeds, snort in sand, but instead I am driving to Centrelink to queue.
The woman at the computer screen says I can just hand in the form. No I really want to see someone because I am fearful I will not have all the right stuff with me and I want to know. Now that I am doing it I want to make sure it is done. Sitting across from someone real makes me confident it will be recorded.
There’s a wait you know. Forty five minutes at least.
Wish I’d brought my book to read. But it’s okay. It’s Centrelink. There’s always something to see.
A woman with no shoes and what looks like either bird shit or glue in her hair is at the counter next. She has bruises on her calves. I suspect they are from abuse. I think this because she is at Centrelink and I have already labelled her as deprived. She is agitated and stalking around. She trails a cotton shirt. Then she puts this over the top of her puffy jacket. There is definitely something not right with her. She queues. She stops queueing. She asks the room for a pen. I don’t offer her mine because how else will I write about her?
I sit with others waiting in a semi circle around a television where Larry Emdur tells us about great new shopping opportunities. Steam cleaning carpets or pet insurance. Pet insurance seems particularly ridiculous in here. Larry looks exceptionally clean, so rock jawed and white teethed when compared to my fellow Centrelink customers. Most have vinyl rain jackets on. Most have down turned mouths and nobody is smiling enough to see the colour of their teeth, but I suspect not the same sheen as Larry’s.
A woman comes in with a three year old scally wag. She threatens him continuously. He has a shaven head except that the fringe is left long. It is an extremely ugly haircut. She keeps saying, Do you want me to smack you in front of all these people? He is running around out of her reach. Don’t go out there or that big dog will get ya. She wants him to sit down next to her and have his juice and chips that she keeps saying she has. Perhaps they are in the Thomas the Tank engine knapsack. Bribe, threat, bribe, threat. He is zooming. On a run past she grabs him by the neck of the jacket and swings him up onto her lap. She pinches his earlobe and he says, you hurting my ear. She says, Not yours. It’s my ear. I made it.