Wednesday, November 19, 2008

humbled

So the past half-hour or so has been pretty busy, partly because there has been a client waiting to speak with me while i juggle a phone call & the computer guy who's here to fix my computer. the client, whom we'll call Mr. Smith sits patiently in our "lobby" area (which is really just a couple chairs by our printer & mini-fridge)...and I'm getting stressed thinking, "oh no, what's wrong with his house? why isn't his case manager visiting him regularly? uh oh uh oh uh oh."

Once I finished my phone call & spoke with computer man, I went & sat down with Mr. Smith. Our conversation went something like this:

me: hi, mr. smith. how can i help you today?
smith: well, i was just stopping by to say hello.
m: well good...it's nice to see you. how are you?
s (said over a 10/15 minute period, but summed up here for convenience): good..it's difficult adjusting to being in one place.
m: yeah, that's different than how you had been living for a while, huh?
s: yeah. i'm about to head to the social security office to apply for disability b/c i have NO income (which i knew), then i'm gonna head to wal-mart (def. a good 40 min. walk at least..he can't buy bus tokens b/c of no income) to see about a job. i've been making pralines (pulls out sandwich bags of indiv. pralines) & selling them outside of the grocery store for $1.50 each.
m: oh wow, that's great!
s: i am not supposed to be in this situation...before katrina, from june-august, i had a good job, got promoted & everything.
me (tearing up a little): oh, where were you working?
s: for crystal catering company...i got promoted from a regular worker making $8 an hour to assistant manager making $12 an hour (face lights up). i worked 82 hours during the junior olympics at the convention center, and i made more in overtime than in a regular 2-weeks' pay. i bought all my furniture just from working overtime. then when katrina came, i still had my coffee table & head-board in boxes.
m: oh wow.
s: yeah, i feel like satan just jumped on my head & was riding me around, but my case manager came & took him off. (pulls out a notebook & hands it to me) this is what i've been working on, (and i read his paper which says "Long-Term Goals," and he emphasizes that he has a 5-year plan; his goals include "establishing a better place in society" (i.e. job security) & surrounding himself with better "associates," being more social, visiting his 6 daughters more (he joked that that's why he's gray :)), etc.).
m: wow, this is great...did your case manager help you with this?
s: (totally clear-headed, with it, not "off his rocker" like some clients) no, i did it myself. she came & documented all of it on monday, but i came up with this plan myself.
m: oh wow, that's wonderful!
s: (digs in his bag & hands me a praline-filled sandwich bag)
m: oh gosh, i wish i could buy one, but i don't have any cash (honestly)
s: that's okay, you don't have to pay me
m: no, i'm not going to take this from you...let me see what i have (which turns out to be $.35, which i give him)
s: well, you really don't have to pay me, but if you insist. i was gonna give it to you anyway.

Wow, wow, wow. My job is really administrative & I don't have much client contact, so I really just cherish moments like these...they make what i do so much more human, more real. I am so thankful for Mr. Smith's stopping by, and for all i'm blessed with in my life, a good solid job, wonderful friendships & an awesome family, a good car, an amazingly cute (& snuggly!) dog, a roof over my head, a heater, my education, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Wow, wow, wow. Definite bottle moment.

2 comments:

Eric said...

wow meg, that's amazing. i'm so proud of you. you're doing wonderful things for people that need someone like you.

janetiafrate said...

You're my hero.

So is that guy.

Miss you, love you!