Friday, March 27, 2009

Trying again

I guess I have to be unemployed to get back in to my blog on a regular basis. So here I am unemployed as of last Friday. Bad economic times but I would rather be able to hold my head up as my own person than get scolded every day for stupid, micromanaged things. Not to mention scolded in front of others every day. But my story about a bad fit at a job is only relevant because of the last two weeks when I was working at a drop in site, a needle exchange program.

But it was more than that, it was a place for people to come in off the streets, to have a refuge from the weather, to just be able to sit on a couch and not be hassled. I needed to interact with junkies in need of needles, homeless folks in need of food or or a friendly face and the police needed to keep order in the downtown and serve warrants while keeping the businesses and their customers happy.

When I first went down there, I did it to get away from the other offices. I really didn't like being watched all the time, being micromanaged. I also went down there with a judgement about the people who were coming in there. They were gonna be mostly stinky homeless men, in my mind anyway, who would be loud and bug me so I would hide out in my office and just do my work, Boy was I wrong.

One day when I was down there before I moved in, we had gotten food donations. One guy had cut a piece of cake and because the agency had not been spending any money on supplies down there at the drop in center, there were no plates, forks, napkins, nothing to be able to eat humanely with. So here was this guy cutting a piece of cake and having to eat it off his knife. We didn't give him a way to be able to eat like a person with manners and he was hungry. Our eyes met and I was so ashamed that this place where I worked didn't have enough respect for him to give him a plate and a napkin and a fork.

The next day I put all three items on the shopping list for Costco. When I got those packages I was questioned why I needed these items, were we having a party? No I wanted to treat our clientele with some dignity and respect. They deserved that. They were just hungry. I didn't think it was that complicated. Apparently it was complicated and I got scolded again because the director claimed to not know we were feeding people and she did not like that. Well too bad.
Maybe that's another reason why I don't have a job today.

There were regular programs at the drop in center. One afternoon a week there were women's hours. Not a whole lot of women came by but I was particularly affected by one woman. She was homeless, had a few mental issues could be really stubborn. She was also 73 years old. I kept thinking, why is she homeless at this age? She should be sitting down somewhere enjoying her last years, not wondering where she is going to sleep tonight?

I tried to give her my inhaler once because she was having asthma, nope she didn't want it. I tried other things, no, I don't want that. But finally, she started trusting me. She would come to the back door and ask to come in to sit on the couch. I always let her in and she would visit with me a little. Aske me goofy questions sometimes like why are there wires across the street? I would share my sandwich with her and I gave her $3 once so she could get some coffee. She went out and walked a couple of miles to McDonald's so she could sit down, have some coffee and a hamburger and still have a ham sandwich left over.

In remembering those couple of weeks, I am sad that I had judged thes people because of their conditions. I saw their suffering up close. I'm just so sorry I didn't get to stay longer with them. But at least I learned their names and got to treat them as humans who were suffering and ease that suffering for just a minute or two. I hope Barack helps them more. If he does help, all our boats will rise together.

Maybe Phyllis will get to spend her last years with her luggage unpacked and a place to call home. All our boats will be together, happy and calm, with names, food, plates and forks, jobs and no scolding.
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