Tuesday, November 27, 2007

lesson from work

It is amazing the stuff that people will lie about when you catch them red-handed. For instance:

Staff: What happened to your pills?
Joe: What pills?
Staff: The pills your doctor gave you. The ones you were supposed to hand over to us immediately upon arrival.
Joe: I don't know. The doctor never gave them to me.
Staff: That's funny. Because we just called your doctor. He says you left the office with one bottle of forty pills. Where are they?
Joe: ... I forgot.
Staff: right... you're diagnosed with Borderline Personality and drug addiction, but clearly the problem here is memory loss.
Joe: I don't like staff being all up in my business!
Staff: Medicine is our business. Where are your pills?
Joe: ... What pills?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the never-ending saga of my job

In the place where I work, each staff member is the primary counselor for two or three clients. Both my clients have relapsed in the past two days. One client keeps saying that the program is "just not a good fit." This person insists that they can handle their own recovery better than us. The other person, I found out this morning, cited me personally as a big reason for the relapse. To be fair, there were others as well.

So things aren't going especially hot for me at the moment. After I found out about this morning I was pretty well geared up to quit, actually, before I calmed down. I definitely wasn't up to handling client concerns like I should have been. By the time we have to write all of our summaries at the end of the day, all the details usually blur together in a stressed-out haze.

Part of me wants to rise to this challenge. It tells me that if I stick this out I will be a kick-ass counselor at an earlier age than most and really prepared for just about anything else I encounter.

The other part says that the lack of training and support in this job are not reasonable conditions, and that I have several disadvantages over (under?) other counselors: I lack experience in residential counseling, I'm not naturally extroverted or overtly charismatic, and I'm considerably younger than anyone else. Clients are naturally going to disrespect me, and I have to fight harder than anyone to earn their trust.

I'll say this for myself: I put up a good fight. I've had some pretty deep conversations with clients that weren't opening up, and I lead a damn good discussion group considering how intensely so many of the people don't want to be there. But the truth is, I have to also wonder how much of a liability I am. I don't know the services or agencies nearly as well as almost anyone else, I am constantly tripping up over rules or regulations I didn't know or forgot. This is on top of all the changes as a result of the new temporary program director, who incidentally is simultaneously my boss and my over-boss. The trouble I am having with the job is definitely leaking out into my client interactions, and I have to face the real possibility that I am doing people a disservice by learning the ropes in this program.

Maybe the real reason I am still in this job is because on some level I like the challenge. It's a combination of persistent and masochistic, really, which is odd because I am not either of those things usually. Ah, well, my conversation with my boss tomorrow should determine a lot.

In brighter news: mid-season double-feature of Avatar is on this Friday, and it will kick ass if the previous ones are any indication.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


You know how you here something which is supposed to be common knowledge and you think, "oh come on, that can't possibly be true?"

I get (got?) that feeling a lot in academics. Psychology especially is loaded with stuff which is supposed to be kind of self-evident that I never totally bought. Vagina-fear, for instance. This is basically a reversal on Freud where, rather than women envying the penis, men fear the vagina. A feminist take might be that this leads to building patriarchal systems that suppress the scary vagina and the woman possessing it.

OK, so it is a model. And not one I am explaining very well. And not one I ever especially bought. Apparently a vagina with teeth is a common mythological symbol, aka vagina dentata. Which leads me to this...

Apparently I was wrong: vaginas are scary. But really, give me a break.

P.S. Vagina dentata, what a wonderful phrase...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

social rehabilitation meets dungeons and dragons

Working on the morning shift is an eye opening experience. Which is to say that it is hard as hell. None of this skate by until morning, just trying to stay awake night shift crap, no. Something is always happening in the mornings, and we don't get no bloody break. It has made me realize that there are certain types that survive in this situation, and certain types that don't.

Reading Order of the Stick has been making me think in character types. On one hand there is lawful, neutral, or chaotic, while on the other there is good, neutral, or evil. My boss, for instance, is lawful evil. Oh, sure, he may work for the greater good by virtue of his job, but ultimately he is manipulative, passive aggressive, and out to see things are done his way regardless of if this is the right way. His actions, though, are perfectly ordered and predictable. His orderly habits just have a habit of bringing difficulty to other people. His character type does supremely well in this environment.

On the other hand, Eve was a classic example of chaotic evil. Rude and bitchy to everyone, seeming to hate absolutely everyone regardless of who they were. Despite making everyone else's lives miserable, she was really thriving there until things finally got to be too much. Just a little less chaotic, and I think she would have gone far. Another coworker is a milder chaotic evil, and she's doing just fine.

Most of my coworkers, on the other hand, are chaotic good. They are random fast-paced people who want the best for those around them but are willing to not take things too seriously and do what they think works rather than what they strictly ought to be doing. And usually they do a great job, although sometimes it gets them in trouble.

Then there's me. I think I am generally neutral good, although at work I am probably more lawful good. I believe in honoring a strict set of protocols and boundaries, that way clients know what to expect. Beyond this set of expectations I am a big fan of staff using their judgment and making decisions based on all the known facts.

Lawful(ish) good isn't cutting it where I work. Besides the fact that the rules are selectively applied to different people, and that I haven't been properly trained to know what the rules and guidelines are, and that attempts to do good are totally ignored if they aren't in compliance with what the boss expects, and that what the boss and the program expect are often different things; besides all that there is the fact that most of the clients are themselves chaotic, so they tend not to understand the good I try to do and not to appreciate the lawful aspect.

Which means that I have three choices: quit, become chaotic, or become evil. The problem with quitting is that I don't know if any other program I join will be the same. And I don't think I can become more chaotic; it just isn't in my nature. So...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

me vs. my boss

My 100th post. Yay!

phone: ring!

me: hello?

Ira (my boss): Hi Dylan! How are you doing? Generic greeting, blah blah.

me: Wonderful. Yourself? Volley, and return.

Ira: Great. So it looks like good news for you. But you already know what I'm about to say.

me: What's that? Sure do.

Ira: We have a shift opening up on the mornings on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Of course, that wasn't the problem.

me: Sounds good. Say it...say it!

Ira: Eve will no longer be on the morning shift, so it would be great to move you to the morning shift as soon as possible. Yeah yeah, I'm sure you had already heard the bitch is gone.

me: Alright! Hells yeah!

Ira: So as soon as we get the new girl trained for the nights shift, we will be moving you to mornings. Maybe if I say it real subtle, you won't notice.

me: OK... back the fuck up...

Ira: Does that sound good? Come on, please just say yes, please just say yes...

me: Just one thing.

Ira: Fuck!

me: According to the schedule, my last night shift is this Wednesday. And not one damn day later.

Ira: Well, it looks like we will need you on night shift a little longer until the new girl is trained. I'm giving you what you want, so shut the hell up bitch.

me: Actually, I was really counting on getting off that night shift. I really don't feel it's good for my health. Did you really just use the royal we? Roast in hell! You've kept me on night shift way past your original promise, and I even gave you two weeks notice. Request denied.

Ira: Well, we do need her to be trained... Taste my inevitability ray! Thwah!

me: Stan will be on tonight, Jimmy the next couple of nights, and the schedule is such that I already wouldn't have had any nights alone, so she should have plenty of time to train. Fuck. You.

Ira: Hm, let's see here. Alright, pretend to flip through the schedule for a couple seconds. Hey, it looks like that works out. Maybe we can get you off of night shift immediately. Dammit. Now I have to find more relief workers.

me: Great! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Unless it involves more night shift. In that case, you can bend right over and suck it.

Ira: Alright. Talk to you tomorrow at the meeting. You will pay. Sooner or later, they all pay.

me: Have a great day! Please don't hurt me :(.