taken for a ride

August 26, 2007

My job is getting to me . . . I think I’m falling in love with it ☺ Today I was laughing at myself, realizing that I was drawn to putting myself in a work-like role on my off day. Walking towards the downtown library, I heard a shouted, “Can’t nobody get no help around here?!?” As I came closer, I realized she was talking to me, though she peered in all directions around as she talked. I stopped and listened to her for a while, finally interrupting to figure out exactly what it was she was asking for. It turned out to be $4, “for gas,” as she had run out on her way to her grandmother’s house, from Ohio. She only had an account at a northern bank, so couldn’t get money here, and “nobody would help” her . . .
I offered her my phone, then continued to dial the number she had called after she hung up, saying her uncle wasn’t answering. After some inner debate, I decided to offer to take her somewhere if she needed a ride to her uncle’s house. I told her I was going into the library and if she still needed a ride when I came back out in 30 minutes, I’d take her where she needed to go.
Now I should clarify that I had, by this point, already called my grandfather and been assured that this was a typical con story. My decision turned out to be a decently wise one, as she disappeared without taking me up on the ride. But it had me thinking as I continued from there on to the museum.
You see, Monday I will continue a project I began Friday afternoon at work. This particular project involves coaching a woman through her parole requirements to help her fulfill her requirements. I am being very careful to only help in her the ways I am authorized, abiding by the rules of her parole officer. But I do find myself very drawn into the whole situation: externally I am professional in my dealings with her, while internally I am convinced that she is sincere in her desire to do right from now on. As a result, I am adamant about doing everything in my power to help her as much as I can.
Is it possible that I am wrong in my assessment of her intentions? Certainly. I can only pray that I have the strength to do my job—every day—with cases like this. The strength to do what I can without being heartbroken when, as will inevitably happen, I am disappointed by the outcome or mistaken in my judgment concerning another’s heart . . .

at the end of the day

August 23, 2007

I spent the entire hour of running errands and driving home this evening trying to force myself to “let go” of work. My heart was racing still from the stress of trying to deal with this particular situation and my mind was racing with possible scenarios that I worried he might encounter on his own for the rest of the evening.
This elderly gentleman came to me today asking for his caregiver. He needed help but could not remember anything that would help me find out what he needed. His repeated apology was, “I’m just so confused . . . today I’m very confused . . .” Not having names or numbers, it was truly a wild goose chase to try to figure out what his medical situation was, who could help care for him, and what medications he needed at that time.
At the end of the day, my quest was successful: his caregiver was located, immediate needs met, and I finally ushered him back to his room, promising to return tomorrow. He apologized once more for his confusion, and replied that he was fine as I asked again if he was going to be ok.
I thought I had successfully let go for the evening until I was telling my mother about it on the phone just now. As I explained the situation, my emotions flared up again and I found myself suddenly on the verge of tears . . . I suppose it is a good sign when I am anxious to get to work tomorrow ☺

what i’m reading

August 22, 2007

As is my tendency, I am in the middle of a string of books by my current author-of-choice: Sue Monk Kidd. Beginning with The Secret Life of Bees, I moved next to The Mermaid Chair, and am now nearing the end of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Another of her nonfiction works is next on my list, as I placed a hold on it and am awaiting its arrival for me at the public library. I find her writing style to be understatedly captivating, so zip effortlessly through each of her works. What is gripping me the most about her works, both the novels and the nonfiction, though, is her brutal honesty about the walk [and sometimes, more accurately, the grueling climb] of faith. She is unflinching in her portrayal of what it means to be a “normal” American woman who is in the midst of a not-so-normal inner battle over what it means to be true to your faith, to yourself, to your family, and to your God.

a matter of perspective

August 18, 2007

This snippet ought to illustrate rather well the nature of my beloved new workplace. It may also demonstrate my reasons for being so smitten with the people and stories I am getting to encounter 5 days a week . . .

One of our residents [a former resident, I should add, for reasons that will soon be self-evident] found a young man who was willing to, er . . . run some errands for her. She provided him with the funds to make the purchases, instructed him as to where to go, and waited for his return. Once she had waited longer than she deemed fit, she wandered the neighborhood to ask if anyone had seen this gentleman and had insight as to why he had not returned. Sure enough, she found someone who recognized her description and who informed her that he seemed to have been delinquent in the work he had been hired to do.
Indignant, she promptly returned to her apartment and called the police to report the transgression. Though there was nothing they were able to do about the man in question, the police dutifully came . . . to arrest the woman who had made the call. You see, she had called to report to them that this young thief had run off with her money, leaving her without the drugs she had sent for. As she was arrested, she reiterated her disgust at the state of youngsters these days: you just can’t count on youth to be reliable these days

smoking elders

August 16, 2007

The majority of my afternoon was spent with a chain-smoking elderly women who had me held happily hostage to her Medicare tales of woe. As a result, I am left chuckling at this quote, though I know nothing about its background. Please feel free to enlighten me if I have any readers out there who know more than I do about his reasoning for writing such an intriguing little smippet:

“Everybody welcome-especially elders who smoke.”
Jacob de Jager (1923 – )

so i’m told

August 13, 2007

“Anna: Your Photo, ‘Dropped One,’ Will Be Published. Congratulations for your publication”

hmmm . . . don’t know if I believe it, but I must say I’m flattered by the idea. Perhaps it does some good to post photos on a photography website after all.

the clan

August 10, 2007

A conversation with my little brother just now has made me photo-hungry for family. So just for fun I am posting this one: Mom and I were playing around with my Mac while out running errands. Returning home, I showed our photo booth shots to the boy, at which point Alex teased us for looking like a “girl band.” The boys and I then decided to play off on that theme and make our best “boy/girl band” faces. This is the end result of the combination of the the two . . . the J**jan Clan Band? :-)

the daily grind

August 8, 2007

It is a strange pleasure, an exquisite ordinary-ness, to have a “normal” day job. The simple routine of going into the office each day, of earning a small but consistent paycheck, of having an office . . . it is all so much more than just a simple joy. I am finding the greatest of pleasures in the most unexpected places, in activities I used to regard as utterly, undesirably humdrum: organizing my rolodex, filing paperwork in its proper alphabetical order, signing and dating paperwork.
But the greatest pleasure is that of listening to the residents. I get to have the “job” of letting them tell me their stories. “How did you get the first name “Lloyd?” I asked Miss Marguerite. Once I had shouted loudly enough into her ear for my voice to be audible [to her 92-year-old ears that don’t work quite so well anymore], her face lit up with a wide grin, Well, my Daddy named me. See his first sweetheart was named Marguerite Lloyd. So when my Mama had me, he decided to name me after her—I guess he figured if he switched the name around my Mama wouldn’t get a bee in her bonnet about it. So here I am now: Lloyd Marguerite!

sikisa hapa

August 4, 2007

I was struck today by the difficulties of working with the Burundi refugees . . . the newness is wearing off a bit—the “honeymoon” period, if you will. So now I am getting more concerned about the hugeness of the task of teaching them—and the hugeness of the problems they will face in general as they try to acclimate to life here. There is so much that needs to be done before they can live independently and I worry about the logistics of it all. How will the children get registered in school in a couple of weeks now? Who will help them with all the practical matters entailed in moving into their temporary government housing? How will the children get used to school life here when they don’t even understand English yet? . . .
My head starts to spin just trying to figure out what needs to be done, never mind figuring out how to do it! But of course it is not up to me. And Lord knows we would be in a sorry state if it were! Thankfully there are people much more suited to figuring out logistics and, well, just “taking care of business,” than I will ever be!
Anyhow, telling of the past few days of lessons are the phrases that have become my most useful Swahili words of late: Wacha hio, Sikisa hapa, and Hapana. Loosely translated, that would be “Don’t touch that,” [for when they get overly zealous about starting the tape player again that we use for ngoma, or “drum and dance”], “Listen to me!” [this one needs no explanation, I expect], and “No” [i.e. no, don’t climb in my car and lay on the horn today—that was a rather noisy ordeal yesterday!].
So we stumble along each day. We figure things out as we go, making plenty of mistakes, laughing at mistaken translations, getting frustrated when we can’t understand each other . . . and, by grace, perhaps we make some learning progress along the way.