Today at a temp job I spent the entire day not only dealing with but being bombarded by the homeless, by the mentally ill, by people who who were desperate and sometimes worried, anxious, scared or in desperate need of their medication. And when I say bombarded I mean I had 3 or 4 lines ringing at once with two or three people waiting in line for me to help them…often all by myself with no back up. I worked as a receptionist for a crisis clinic that manages disability, SSI and homeless cases.
When they asked me at the end of the day to come back tomorrow and I said “yes” they were surprised. “Are you sure?” they asked. “Because you don’t have to. Most temps don’t want to come back. In fact most temps leave after the first hour.” I lasted the entire day and was calm every step of the way.
There was one point in the day when a woman in the lobby kept bugging me over and over and the case manager who saw this said, “wow, she was really rude to you.” That’s when it struck me that I never thought for a moment she was rude. From my point of view she was in a crisis and I was able to reassure her that I was on her side and wanted her to be able to get her meds before she had to leave. What other people see as “rude” or “disrespectful” I often see as a puzzle. I immediately want to solve it, wondering what is this person feeling that is making them act this way? And what can I do that would make them feel safer/calmer/okay so they won’t have to feel that way anymore? To other people rude and angry customers are an annoyance, to me they are an opportunity. They are a potential goldmine for some one who longs to understand the workings of the human mind and emotions.
Don’t get me wrong, I don't know that I could do this for a living. This job requires so much energy and has so many emergencies so often that every hour feels like four. But this kind of thing leaves me feeling accomplished at the end of the day. I didn’t waste my time filing or entering stupid data. I spent my day making life easier for homeless folks, needy folks, anxious and worried folks, and for overworked and overloaded case managers. And I did it calmly and easily no matter how much I was slammed with. If feels good to be reminded that not only can I do things that others just don’t want to do, but I do them well. Most people run screaming from this kind of job. I kicked ass…and will be doing so again on Wednesday.
Web Site Counter