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.