Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Class warfare...

I'm not looking for trouble here.

I'm not passing judgment on anyone, no matter what job they hold, what wage they make, or whether or not they pursued education with any fervor... Some of the sharpest people I know BARELY made it out of high school. Some of the wealthiest people around are totally worthless human beings (see: Paris Hilton) and there are certainly people out there who live happy, full lives while working what some would consider "blue collar" jobs.

Once again, I note I am not looking for trouble, and I'm not passing judgment on ANYONE.


I will say that in spite of my troubles with finding a job in my former urban environment, I'm glad that I pursued a college education with a goal of pursuing fulfilling and financially gainful employment.

What brought this on?

I walked into a grocery store where I was minding my own business and ran into a guy with whom I attended high school. I greeted him warmly enough and asked him how he was doing. He informed me he was tired because he just finished working a fourteen hour day at the grocery. Now, this is a guy in his mid twenties, so there are plenty of people in a similar situation, humping a crappy job, just getting by, doing what they do.

Like I said before... NO JUDGMENT.

But when one considers that this is the same job he's had since he was a sophomore in high school, and that during high school he behaved in a generally snotty I'm-too-good-for-you- because -my-parents- are- well-to-do-type manner, and now it would seem that the parents have cut off the cash flow... Well... I suppose I wish him the best, hope that he's happy doing it, and silently think that I'm glad it's not me!

I know that there are a great many people out there, working at whatever job it is that they might do, and they look at what I do, and they say, "I'm glad it's not me," too... And I don't begrudge them that opinion of my work either. It's definitely not a job for everyone. If it were, the turnover rate at my office wouldn't be NEARLY as high as it is, and job satisfaction rates would be astronomical, but it's definitely not one of those jobs that most people would find enjoyable.

For those of you who maybe haven't been around long enough to get the gist of my job, or for those who might need a little clarification, I am a home-based social worker. I go out into the clients' homes and I provide them with services. I supervise visitation between parents who DCS has deemed unfit and their children. I provide parent aide services, which entails everything from teaching people how to clean their own home, or informing them about personal hygiene, or telling someone that it might be a good idea to pick up the poop on the floor left behind by the (LITERALLY) 12 cats and 5 dogs which they never allow to go outside, to helping people with felony records find work, or financial assistance when a job is not forthcoming. I do parent education, which entails reading and discussing materials with clients which basically tells them, "Um, hey, it might not be such a good idea to beat your kid with items you find conveniently lying around, like a belt or an electrical cord. Oh, and in addition to being a bad idea, its also illegal." I do juvenile mentoring with kids, which quite frequently consists of teaching kids how to deal with the stresses of life, and fostering self-esteem in those who have little if any dignity because they have been continually victimized by those who were supposed to protect them. I also get to go to case conferences and court dates for these people. And no, my office does not pay me for my gas or car-related expenses... I have the privilege of doing that on the meager salary that the state allots to sub-contracted social workers. My clients often yell at me, call me awful names, and avoid me when they know I'm trying to get in touch with them about something important. I step into houses which are infested in every way possible, and are littered with feces both animal and human, and which smell like the real life equivalent of the bog of eternal stench. And I maintain composure and control of my gag reflex like you would not believe... (Because nothing blows your rapport with a client like admitting that their house has disgusted you to the point where you vomit on their tumor-ridden cat.)

Like I said, it's not a job for everyone... But seeing that guy, and hearing him mention working a fourteen hour day at the grocery store, I admit I said to myself, "Damn, I'm glad it's not me."

...Though, I admit that after looking at that bluntly honest job summary, I have to admit, part of me can't think of why I'm glad its him at the grocery and not me...

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