About this time last year, I got a job with our city’s crisis care service for children. It was a group of emergency care shelters that took in kids who where at risk for abuse or neglect due to family circumstances. Sometimes their families were homeless, other times the electricity or water had been shut off at their homes. We also had many parents who brought their kids in because they were so stressed out they were afraid they may harm their children, or they had a medical condition and needed to go to the hospital themselves or have some type of procedure done. The kids ranged from ages birth to twelve and usually stayed from a few hours up to 72 hours. They got good meals and snacks while at the center, a medical check up, a developmental assessment, therapeutic activities, and some art/play therapy if there was time.
When I was hired – by the CEO herself, mind you – the picture of the organization painted was that it was an incredibly supportive place for its employees due to the amount of stressful situations we would handle frequently. The first few weeks were incredibly stressful as I immediately suffered from food poisoning. After going to the ER, I took one day off work. The ER doctor had written me a letter to be off for three days but I chose to go back after one day, still suffering bad stomach cramps and dehydration. I felt like I was needed too much and couldn’t let the kids or my coworkers down.
Speaking of coworkers – most of them were quite nice, except I felt uncomfortable around two from the first time I met them. I will call the first one K, she was the head counselor at the site I mainly worked at. My first impression upon meeting her was that she was a ‘popular girl’. One of those girls who are part of the in crowd in high school, a sorority girl in college, and just tended to look down on others a bit. She was never outright mean to me – but I was never comfortable around her. The second one I will call C, and wow did we get off to a rough start. C worked evenings with me once a week, after she came from her full time job as a preschool assistant. She immediately read me the riot act so to speak. I got a lecture about how she worked with kids all day and by the time she got to the center all she wanted to do was paperwork. I understood how she felt that way, but she worked as an assistant. According to job descriptions – her priority was to oversee the kids then assist with paperwork if need. My first focuses as a counselor was doing intakes and discharges with the families, answering phones and scheduling families, and doing the massive amount of paperwork required each shift.
I ticked her off by saying I really needed to do the paperwork for awhile mainly because I had to get practice with the computer system. Whenever we worked together the next few weeks, she was bossy and couldn’t even manage to let me take a phone call without talking to me as the caller was talking – trying to tell me what to do or say when it was apparent that I knew what I was doing. I tried to set some clear boundaries with her, it was pretty clear she didn’t like me in the slightest. I also ran quickly into a night of hell when a different assistant began vomiting just an hour into the shift. I ended up with no choice but to close her in the bathroom and call the on call person to come in. She claimed to be over an hour away and it ended up taking over two hours for her to show up. In the mean time – I had a sick baby to care for, other kids, and a homeless family I was trying to find shelter for. The director of therapy services was there and I ended up asking for her help, I just needed someone to hold the baby so I could deal with the family. When 6pm came, she left and I spent about 45 minutes trying to get all e kids ready for bed alone as well as doing an intake on a new family. One mom who came to pick up her kids felt so bad for me – she ended up grabbing a book and stayed for awhile to read stories to the kids to help me out!
And all of my kindness - mistaken for weakness.StL Girl. Fighting PTSD, Bipolar, and Anxiety. Engaged to the best man a woman could ask for. IT tech in the making, wannabe coder.As simple as a spider's web, as calm as a hurricane.