Her fingernails were dirty. She sat in the chair in the Welfare Woman's Office and hid them under her thighs as she sat there waiting for her caseworker. She looked around the office and saw the degrees and certificates. In her head, all she could think of was the chores she had to do at home and the kids she had to ask her brother to watch while she was gone. Worried, she then looked down at her feet. Her feet were dusty and packed with dirt in-between the toes and around the nails. She tucked them under her chair. How could she have forgot about her annual income renewal! She had to show the caseworker all of her income - and to do that - she had to reach into her purse which was down by her feet! There was absolutely no getting out of showing the dirt on her hands, nails, and feet. She was going to have to buck up and play this like the Angry Ojbiwa Woman she was and give some "stink eye" while she was at it.
Looking at the caseworker's piles of papers around the office, she thought, "Income! What income! My income comes from running the rez and collecting surplus property from others!" In fact, she had a bunch of garden potatoes, beans,and onions in the car that were just waiting for the soup she had planned that night!
Income! She began to track her days during the last year. Well, she ran into the woods a couple of times during the year to gather resources that is considered unaccounted income by most accountants but is eaten up by the time anyone would be able to report under most circumstances. She was out on her boat most of the summer fishing or leaching. She collected more resources there as well. Then she went out for a solid two weeks in the Fall to collect more resources and spent the rest of the time washing clothes and processing food for the winter. In the spring, she ran around in the woods again and then out to berry camp.
Her friend, another Angry Ojibwe Woman, has been collecting Corelle dishes for her to make a complete set at rummage sales and thrift stores. By the time the collection is complete, that could be counted as an asset. The dishes that will no longer be used, by most accounting practices, would then be seen as surplus property. The Angry Ojibwe Women smiled sitting their in the Welfare Woman's Office remembering how she picked up some great deals at rummage sales that were double their worth! Heck, if they really took in the value of them, the sales would triple their value. That is tricky as well when reporting her income. Should she tell her caseworker that she picked up a leather jacket at a rummage sale for $5 dollars and sold it for $100 last month? How about the surplus property in the basement that she is holding for her next rummage sale?
Then she started thinking about the expenditure lines that she had to account for on her annual income report. Well, there was no line for more than 5 people in your household so she couldn't count the grandbabies. There wasn't a check box for pampers or for baby formula. Summer was over and the grandkids were going back to school that meant about $200 a kid x 5 totals: $1,000. The car broke down about 10 times, sometimes she had friends fix it, but most of the time out-of-pocket always was an assured cost in the expenditure line even if the daughter took the car and ran in-between pow-wows with it, it still was her expense. The income reporting form just does not justify what life is really like in her household and does not have an "other" category.
The caseworker came into the room. Smiling had a cup of coffee and sat down. The Angry Ojibwa Woman was ready to shoot out the old stink eye to get the conversation going if it began on the wrong foot! She needed the health care and other resources! She had to watch her balance sheet and it just did not work without those resources.
As she sat there, the caseworker asked for her Income Reporting Sheet. The Angry Ojibwa Woman reached down to grab her purse revealing her hands and feet covered with garden dirt. If anything pisses an Angry Ojibwa Woman off more, it is someone taking time away from her gardening! She found her documents and was steeling herself for the conversation as she saw it based upon her accounting practices. As she saw it, she was running a non-profit - kind of like a boys and girls club of sorts! At the end of her year, her profits were literally eaten up and her losses were all unaccounted for and her budget always came out as zero!
As she rose up to look at her caseworker, she looked under the caseworker's desk and saw her caseworker's feet. They were covered with dirt and outlined with the sandals she was wearing. Looking up, the caseworker smiled at her.
Moral of the Story: Women have a lot more in common than we think and sometimes it all revolves around a little dirt!
Your Friend, Betsy