The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 191: Louella Faces Reality

by A.C. Cherbonnier
      AN HOUR after her appointment for an admissions interview at the School of Social Work, Louella was ushered into the office. A short balding man in a rumpled-looking suit rose to greet her with a powerful handshake. She clasped back as firmly as she could, knowing that might be the determining factor in the interview’s outcome. At least, that’s what they say in the magazines, she reminded herself, perching on a stiff chair. She was surprised to find her hands were trembling. As when she was a little girl, she slipped them under her thighs and willed them to be still.
      “I see you have, let’s see now, a bachelor’s in communications from Towson State--whoops! Don’t tell on me! Towson University, right?” He winked at her, then returned to her file. “And a master’s in business administration, too, from UB! I’m impressed, Miss--” He fumbled.
      “It’s Pryzbylewski, Mr. Moore. But please, call me Louella.”
      He looked relieved. “Okay, Louella. Now, let’s see--since 1984 you’ve worked for the CIA, the National Rifle Association, a right-to-life group, the National Security Agency, and two private public relations agencies. And then there’s a two-year break, and then a part-time job with Giant Food. Have I got all that right?”
      “Yes, that’s right. Just like you see in my résumé.”
      He barked a laugh. “I’ve got to tell you, when I saw your application I said to the others, ‘I’ve just got to meet this person!’ I mean, you’ve got to be kidding, right?”
      “No, it’s all true. I’ve really done all that.”
      “Unbelievable!” he murmured under his breath.
      “Do you have some kind of problem with my work history?”
      “No, no--not at all! But it’s highly unusual, you have to admit!”
      “I wanted to gain a wide variety of work experience,” said Louella stiffly. “I always heard it was a good idea not to stay in any one place too long.”
      “Well, jumping around like this can also be a sign of instability of one kind or another,” he said, scribbling notes. Louella, who could usually read upside down, was disappointed that his handwriting was too erratic to be deciphered.
      “I assure you I’m not unstable,” she said stiffly.
      “So then, tell me why you’re interested in social work.”
      “I want to help people.”
      “Do you really think social workers help people?” he asked, eyes twinkling.
      “Well, yes. At least, that’s what I’ve always assumed.”
      “And what do you think social workers do?”
      “Oh, counsel people, kind of hold their hands, help them work the system--things like that.”
      “Are you aware of the changes in insurance reimbursement for counseling?”
      Louella looked blank.
      “And have you thought about the impact welfare reform is going to have on the profession?”
      “Well, no, I haven’t, to tell the truth. I guess things are going to be really different from now on.”
      “Better believe it! But your M.B.A. may be just what you need.”

- TO BE CONTINUED -

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This story was published on December 1, 1999.