Friday, January 05, 2007

A Week Into the New Year

The first week of the new year is now considered the past by me.

The end of 2006 was an eyeopener and eye sweller for me, but mostly a learning experience, which is good I suppose.

I keep wondering, if I make out a detailed plan of action for myself for the next 6 months, will that help? I have always set some kind of goal/goals for myself, but never actually sat down and made a plan/a to do list for the future. I am hoping that will give me some focus, because currently I feel lost, knowing the direction I need and want to go in, but somehow not being able to really get those thoughts balanced out.

So one thing I plan on spending my weekend doing, is creating just such a plan, I am even going to try to go for details, perhaps those nitty gritty details will allow me to see if I am really creating any forward momentum...worth a shot anyway.

* * * * * * *

Another work week when I spent a lot of time trying to help other people deal with their crises.
One very good thing about my job, is I hear from people who are in such hopeless sounding situations, that it does indeed put my own problems in perspective. The saddest thing to me is there are so many homeless people in our world. Homeless through bad luck bad choices, and illness, but many also homeless because they can't seem to pull themselves up out of the hole they have dug for themselves, or was dug for them.

Twice today I received calls from the homeless that I could not help, there are just not any resources available to them. One man is ill, has to arise several times during the night to give himself breathing treatments...thus the shelters are not allowing him back inside, he causes too much of a disturbance. So where does he go? What does he do? He told me he receives a small amount of disability from the government, but that his previous landlord took it all for his room and board, then kicked him out. Thus on the streets, no shelter will take him, and no money. I had no advice for him. I did wonder how a man of 51 would sign over every cent to his name to another person, but of course I did not get the whole story either.

Another call from a husband and wife, they have been homeless since September, have finally worn out their welcome at the last of their friends. When I asked if they had any family they could turn to, they said no. They were not willing to go to the shelters because none we have here are set up for couples. Women with children, or separate facilities for males and females are the only ones available. In fact one shelter said they could provide a bed for the wife but not the husband. The best I could tell him was be thankful the weather is holding to the low-50's "At least you won't freeze if you have to sleep in your car." He agreed with me, said they had spent the night before in their in their very small car. I tried to imagine it, sleeping in a car. Where does one park it? How can one feel safe? I have stopped at roadside parks or rest areas and taken short naps before, but I was in a minivan, totally different ballgame I think.

One of the things that surprised me...I asked how long they had both been unemployed, he said for over a year. I desperately try not to make judgments, after all, as I mentioned I never hear the entire story...but, I just can't imagine not being able to find some sort of employment in a years time. Our area McDonald's, several quick marts, discount department stores, and gas stations are always looking to hire people. So even though they are extremely low paying jobs, is it really that hard to get hired? Or, were they making a choice, deciding that it had to be one kind of job or none at all? I suppose that is something I will not know unless I live it myself.

I have often tried imagining myself in that situation...but, I can't completely...for one thing, I may be a part of a dysfunctional family, but we always try to 'be there' for each other, so I would have a place to stay...if I could get there...but phone call...and they would come to get me.

The not working part, I realize there are many impediments to getting out and applying for a job, or seeking help...but some clean clothes, a shower, and I would be out applying for jobs all over town...hopefully someone would hire me. Would I be too proud to tell them how desperately I needed the job? Is that part of it? I try to put myself in the place of an employer...I have done hiring before...and, if I had the complete authority to do so, and the trust in the person, I would hire them, if they met even my barest of qualifications. But in many organizations there are hiring rules...I had to turn someone away at my last place of employment...not because they couldn't do the job, and not because I didn't think they could do it or wouldn't make a good employee, but, because upper management wasn't willing to bend any of the rules to give the potential hire a chance. So maybe the problem with those that are, no one is willing to take that chance?

Another difficulty in getting help or finding a job is the time it takes, and the distant that oftentimes has to be traveled. I have heard so many stories from people who feel their very dignity as humans is taken away by the government employee. Those that work in the social security offices, the welfare offices, the employment offices deal with hundreds of desperate people a week, people who are in crises mode, people who are frightened, often angry at their circumstances, all of these negative emotions fall on the government employee. So, the employees in the agencies, the very ones who are there to help, are often the least helpful, they behave in very degrading ways in many instances. Thus the seekers become even more frustrated, and many finally do give up for a time. It can become a vicious circle of loss and pain.

It makes me thankful that I can be a pleasant voice on the other end of the phone, one that can sometimes offer ideas or solutions, or if nothing else a listening ear. I try to be very aware of my feelings when dealing with a caller, and if I find myself starting to sound weary, or frustrated I know it is time for a short break, time to get away from the phone, time to walk around, get some fresh air, time to refocus so that those that need help get only my best effort. There are always several voice mails waiting for me when I return, but I am once again able to be helpful, because I took those few minutes away.

But, eventually, my day ends, then I can put their burdens aside, and have to try to deal with my own. It is so much easier to deal with the problems of others than my own.

My husband called me at work today, to request that I make a quick stop at the market before coming home, I asked him what time it was....his reply to me..."Wow, you really aren't a clock watcher are you? You really must like this job, it is almost 5, you get to go home soon. "

My thought...home...home?...sigh.


LePhare said...

I was reading today about a man who has applied for over 1,000 jobs since 2002. He's desperate for work, a qualified mechanical engineer, a degree in maths and qualifications in computer aided engineering. All he has been able to get is part time and temporary work. He's 56, and that's the problem.

I've never been out of work, except when we took a year off, we'd worked for eleven years without a day off, so I guess we'd earned it.

You must see all types of people in your work, those who can, those who can't and those who won't. Sometime is must be difficult to tell who's who. I can't help feeling sorry for those who have slipped into poverty through no fault of their own.

Hope you get thanked by those you are able to help. It's surprising how far a 'thankyou' will go.

Sunny Delight said...

Ian, it does amaze me how many cannot seem to find work. And many, at least in the U.S. fall through the cracks of government subsidies... especially those between the ages of 45 and 65...there are many programs for those with children...and many for seniors....but if the children have left the nest, and one is not considered disabled...then there doesn't seem to be much help for them.

Luckily I get many thank you's even from those I feel as if I have not helped....sometimes it is just an empathetic ear they need.