I know it has been a while so we’ll give you the quick and dirty (emphasis on dirty) version of the previous PHC post, even though you’ve had ample time to review the existing posts in the absence of anything new.
Long story short, the last post examined the shitty, (both literally and figuratively,) working conditions that apparently applied to the terms of employment I somehow agreed to. It demonstrated exactly how little we were paid, exactly how much more work we were expected to do to get that pay when compared to the state social workers, and that VERY necessary mental health services that we all needed to maintain sanity, (if not sobriety,) were not covered by our health insurance plan, and were not provided for free, despite the fact that state social workers DO get free mental health services, their medical plans DO cover mental health services if they choose to see someone outside the office, and all this, despite the fact that the employer specializes in mental health services. In a word, GRAND… but just not for us.
The last post also recalled a phone conversation between the Poop House Family’s state social worker and me. It was not a productive conversation to be sure, unless your idea of “productive” includes further cementing the idea that the state social worker has got to have some kind of (pretty severe) impairment of all 5 natural senses as well as a significant overall comprehension and problem solving skill handicaps. The phone call refreshed our memory of the fact that the Poop House Plumbing was entirely, revoltingly clogged solely with the carcasses of roaches which died most likely of natural causes because the family did not appear to be taking any discernable extra steps to remedy the situation.
After the conversation with state worker Dave, I had other clients to see, and I decided to round out my day by going to the poop house last, as usual. [Sidebar: Some people have queried as to why I would wait and leave that dreadful experience for the tail end of the day. Their reasoning being that one could just power through it in the morning and then have the rest of the day to focus on all of the positives of already being done with the Poop House, and having the rest of the day to air out. My argument is this: if you have ever been to a Poop House, you know that your sole concentration from the instant you leave the premises until the instant you are bathed in purell or are otherwise sanitized and solidly getting started on getting blackout drunk, is getting to the closest possible shower and scrubbing your entire body until it is raw from the effort, and minimizing any unnecessary contamination (this is why having a pair of poop shoes is important for ventures into the poop house, and keeping those poop shoes in a sealed bag when they are not in use is equally important) … This type of showering, sanitizing, and heavy drinking is not something that most people can easily swing at the beginning of the work day, especially when you’re just going to go into other slightly-less-dirty people’s slightly-less-dirty homes and undo all the positive sanitizing efforts you’ve just undertaken for yourself.] So I went to see everyone else first. I got pissed off at several of my clients because they would fail to show up for visits, or they would fail to appear in court, or fail a drug test, or commit wholeheartedly to doing whatever they could to live up to being the ultimate failures that they always knew they could be. The clients’ total commitment to failure and my near constant pissed off mood went hand in hand, and as inseparable as they were, it should go without saying that I often let it show on my face that I was not to be trifled with on any given day. The really rare contact I had with clients who were not as committed to actively pissing me off was usually met with them saying to me something resembling, “You look mad… Who pissed in your cornflakes?” It was a just question, and was almost unfailingly answered, “Pretty much everybody but you.” This answer was not a stretch, given that I had the employer I had, the clients I had, and the fact that we were not compensated for using our own cars, even though gas prices hovered somewhere in the $3-$4 a gallon range during this time. (I know what you’re thinking, and yes, this job does find new and diverse ways of sucking, just when you think you’ve heard it all.)
At the end of my day when the Poop House was the only thing standing between me and a scalding shower followed promptly with a stiff drink, I headed over in that direction. As was my normal routine, I sat and audibly cursed for a couple minutes, put on the poop shoes, and headed in to see just exactly which circle of hell I’d be working in for the remains of my day.
As I knocked again on the once-white, now-tan-with-grime front door, I tried to control my breathing in an effort to keep my lunch down. The little pissant dogs started their incessant yapping which would not die down at any point during the duration of my stay, no matter how long it was to be. Mitch cracked the door to see who I was, (as if anyone without a professional obligation to enter this shit hole would ever set foot on the property,) and after putting the dogs in the bathroom, he let me in. As usual, I was nauseated at what I saw, and even more so by what I smelled.
“Mitch, this has got to stop.”
“What is that odor?”
“Well… We still haven’t gotten the sink all the way unclogged, so it’s probably the food from the dishes, and the standing water in the sink.”
“Mitch, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t really care what it is you have to do, but that can’t keep going on. I don’t care whether you take those dishes into the bathroom and wash them in the sink or even the tub in there, or if you take them outside and run a hose on them, the fact is that those nasty dishes can’t just sit around out in the open being dirty.”
“Well, I think we’ve almost got the sink unclogged, so that’s why they are still there.”
“I’m thinking that the sink has been clogged for the better part of a week now, right?”
“Well, if there’s still standing water in there, then I’m pretty sure that it’s not ‘almost unclogged’ as you say. I’m no plumber, but I think that’s a pretty safe bet. Furthermore, I’m not an exterminator, but with the standing water and the dirty dishes, I’m guessing that you’re only attracting more roaches and then giving them a pool in which to drown. And I’m pretty sure that that’s only going to make your problem worse.”
“Well maybe, but Martha gets paid at the end of the week, and she’ll be able to get some stuff to fix it when she gets her check.”
(My internal monologue was wondering whether or not whatever they would purchase to "fix" their problems included the words "cyanide" or "atom bomb" or since they were working on a budget, even "just enough rope" would have satisfied me... but obviously that's not what Mitch meant.)
“Mitch, that absolutely cannot wait until the end of the week. And I don’t care if you have to call your landlord, and have him fix it, the fact is that this is a MAJOR problem.”
“I know. I know.”
“Don’t blow me off, Mitch. I know you’re just trying to get me to drop this, but the fact is that if anyone from the state came out here to make sure that things are going ok, they would yank Millie out of here so fast that it’d make your head spin… And then you get to start this process ALL OVER again. And I know you don’t want that.”
“Well, between that little issue, and all the other little issues running around here and leaving their own little issues all over your carpet, you’re about 2 seconds from having that happen.”
Mitch then became visibly frustrated. He shifted his weight nervously because he could tell that I wasn’t bullshitting him.
“Well, what am I supposed to do? I can’t do everything here!”
“Mitch, I’m not asking you to do everything all at once.”
“Well I don’t know what you want me to do.”
“Mitch, I’ve told you what I want you to do. I’ve written it down as a chore list and had you tape it to the cabinet. What you have to do is work on those chores EVERY SINGLE DAY. And I know they seem big right now, but that’s because you haven’t been working them every day. You’ve been thinking that you can get by just doing the minimum while I’m here so that I don’t yell at you. But if you’re working on it EVERY DAY, and keeping up with it as you go through the day, it won’t seem like much at all. You just have to change your habits and get busy.”
“But I don’t have any help!”
“Well why not?”
“Because Millie is 5, and Martha goes to work all day.”
“Right, but neither of those is a reason not to help you. Your contribution to the house is maintaining it in general, and doing daily things like laundry and dishes, and cleaning up after the animals. I guarantee that you didn’t create this mess entirely alone… And there is absolutely no reason why Martha or Millie can’t help you out by cleaning up after themselves.”
"Yeah, like that'll happen."
"Well it definitely won't with that attitude! You've just gotta have a little discipline and make it all a prat of the family routine."
Roughly the time those last few words rolled off my tongue the Tasmanian Devil, or perhaps just THE DEVIL rolled in... Little Millie was home from school... And I was about to bite my tongue clean off from trying to withhold the urge to correct anything while Mitch was still in such an agitated state, and Millie was hell-bent on continuing her reign of terror.
But that is for another day.
But that is for another day.