I wondered when IT would kick in.
(Here I have repeatedly tried to insert a photo of Stephen King’s It – the 1980s movies version of course but my phone refused… so… I guess it’s a fan of the more recent movies. Let’s see…
In any case, I’ve been going through all this social work training and sort of soaking in the panic and stress-at-max-setting of all those wonderful social workers and nurses around me as they operate at Full-Blown Social Worker/Nurse mode…
And now I’m feeling it myself.
It’s horrifying and also very satisfying all at once.
And I’ve again discovered that I’m very jealous of my time – once it’s being actively used per its assignment and I feel this assignment to be NECESSARY and NOBLE – so my rather insane reaction makes me think I’m going to be great at this stressed-out-to-the-max social work thing.
On Thursday, during a precious training sessions with my amazing trainer, my phone/computer/land-line phone all rang at the same time (we use a system which causes all electronic means to ring when someone calls your number… it’s… comical) at least 8 times in a single hour.
This was very new to me.
And most of these calls and texts corresponded to emails which were sent from different entities.
It was exhilarating. And I was super annoyed so I was really effective.
No waffling around when I’m super annoyed.
I’m the Eye of Mordor when I’m super annoyed.
RING RING RIIIIIING!!
RING RING RIIIIIING!!
Ring Ring RIIIIIIIIING!!!!
I’m not mean when super annoyed. I’m just deadly calm and very intolerant of any unnecessary deviation.
Unless you’re a sympathetic figure… then I turn to pudding and purr like a Dr. Seuss creature.
But… it was great all this happened right in front of my trainer. Both because
- she could help me immediately if needed and
- also to show that I was now able to answer the phone in front of other people.
Formerly, when using the phone (back when I had to call people… this was before they knew they could call me), I had to walk away to the front of the building to do my calls.
However, I’ve come across a
I’ve found that it’s not the caregiving or problem-solving which is difficult… it’s the INSANE quantity of procedures and forms. The wrong box checked, a form that is not uploaded…
But, as a former ICU nurse boldly stated in my first week, no one is going to die if we make a mistake.
That’s what keeps me at this job and also from throwing myself into traffic.
I don’t know if I had any kind of point for this month’s blog beyond “I’M ACTIVATING” but… since I’m amazingly posting a blog, it may show I’ve finally found the stress I’ve been looking for as I can balance it well enough to keep this shit show running.
Oh ho ho ho and in order to get to the office of this job I pass the dodgiest places so when friends exclaim at how they can’t find just the NORMAL version of Maker’s Mark bourbon I say you don’t go where I and half the city go. We go where most people can’t afford the mid-quality liquor and so it’s placed at the top of shelves close to the ceiling and also behind bullet proof glass and a walk-way wide enough for a ladder.
In fact, what’s most dangerous is my drive to and from work as I essentially just take one street which drives through at least six different Milwaukee neighborhoods.
It’s the Wild West but it’s the Midwest and it’s anarchy because the city doesn’t seem to care. The stop lights are usually out so it’s generally a free-for-fall.
So you can drive as fast as you want. You can drive on the sidewalk. You can certainly drive along in the bus lane or the “right area beside the single lane” if you want.
And usually there are car accidents and most of the times there aren’t any police, emergency workers or a tow truck or anything. I saw a car which looked as if it had recently exploded into a light pole right out in front of a high school and the students were just sort of walking by the smoking wreckage on the sidewalk without even looking at it.
And, honestly, I drove by and didn’t slow down because you don’t slow down on Center Street and… because it was so normal.
Car accidents are such a normal sight.
Last night on my drive home, I saw a car which must have very recently crashed into a traffic sign as it was still smoking and the driver’s door was opened. And a few people were walking around it and saying, “Oh my God!” in a more shocked/WTF way than an “OH NO ” way.
A lot of these crashes are kids who steal cars and take them on joy-rides to crash.
And then, after they crash, they crawl out of the car and run.
If they can.
I hear all about this past-time on my visits with members who live in the neighborhoods of disparity and feel very strongly about the deadly activities of the young people of today in Milwaukee.
One member who is recovering from a serious brain injury which caused him to lose his ability to walk is now actively regaining his ability to walk through rehab just so he can “go back out there and TEACH THESE KIDS WHAT’S UP.”
I’m inspired and annoyed and in danger of dying daily on the road every single day.
I’ve finally found my dream job.
Unfortunately, I learned a couple days ago that there are only 3 people who have stayed in this job longer than 2 years.
I heard one person left on the first day.
I’ll see how long I last.
In the meantime, there is a man who approaches my car at the intersection of Fond Du Lac and Center Street when I’m driving home (he must sleep in because I never see him on the way to work) but, when he approaches my car, I tend to always have a bag of tortilla chips because he approaches my car only on the days when my colleague orders Bel Air (white person Mexican) for lunch and they always accidentally (or on purpose?) give her an extra bag of chips.
And then she gives them to me. And then I take them and…. they’re all I have to give the man.
The last time I saw the despairing panhandler, he declined the chips I offered.
This is because I don’t feel the panhandler believes I only have chips as he lingers and makes the sign of the cross and cries outside my window (and also inside my window when I roll down my window and he leans in as I give him chips when he does accept them because I GENUINELY DO NOT HAVE CASH OR CHANGE ON ME I ONLY EVER HAVE TORTILLA CHIPS)
So I’m going to get a fifty dollar bill and hide it under the seat of my car so, when I see this man again at that intersection, while waiting for a red light to turn green – if the light is working that day, I will give THAT to him.
I’ll also share with him the number for the local ADRC because that’s how he could enroll in Family Care and I etal. could really maybe help him.
And then maybe the panhandler will soon be calling me all the time like my other homeless members too.
I can only hope.
It’s nice to dream about occasionally transforming lives when you can because so much of state social work life is bureaucratic bullshit and forms and codes and there are always too many crises and… well, as with most life activities and even life in general, you simply go until you can’t go anymore.
Like my new used car’s electric screen which died in my second week of owning the car.
The screen was like, “I can’t go anymore.”
And life has continued.
But I do miss having time and music in my car. I joked to a member who I was driving around yesterday that I was going to get a battery-operated radio and duct tape it to my dashboard. I didn’t need a back-up camera.
My member laughed.
Life is short and life is fragile and life is hard and life goes on with or without us.
So grab it with both hands and press it to your chest while you’re still able.
Presently, I’m sick because of how hard I’ve been working (COMP TIME!!!) but… my overactive brain is adequately occupied and I’m killing myself for a good cause.
Because when I watch the horrifying news and when the pastors at my church start to take lines from Revelation so much more than they used to… now I can close my eyes and think, “I can’t do anything more to help other people right now. I have found my purpose.”
Maybe I’ll find more energy to see my family and friends again.
I’ve started drinking Muscle Milk for lunch to help myself sustain.
And, as most people say as we part ways or end phone conversations, “Stay safe out there.”
So… stay safe out there, everyone.
PS Probably my last blog which discusses my work because my doing so borders on potentially violating HIPPA rules so… my next blog will focus on the dog who now regularly scares the shit out of me.
June Carter Cash is spookyAF.
I couldn’t love her more.
13 thoughts on “Full-Blown Social Worker”
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A couple months after my husband retired, he went to lunch with his old unit. He said later, “Listening to everyone talk shop, I was surprised to feel my shoulders creep up.” He’d always claimed to not feel stressed by work. Until he felt it reenter his body, he hadn’t realized the tension had been constant.
Thirty plus years in Children’s Protective Services. It’s not a job. It’s a calling.
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Oh a calling for sure, dear Lisa! Purpose or calling or however it’s phrased… it definitely feels that way. Bless your husband. Thirty years… wow. 🙌🙏 Haha my group are VERY aware of the stress, sadly… but everyone stays for the work and the people we serve. Hugs to you. Thanks for sharing! 🙏🖤
Almost everyone in his unit was a long-timer. I don’t think that’s unusual–there’s joy and satisfaction in this field. Even so, self care is crucial. Advocate for yourself.
By the way, you mentioned comp time (this is not a non sequitur, but falls under the heading of self advocation–government agencies tend to abuse comp time and you may find it necessary to insist).
The Fair Labor Standard Act states, “Under certain prescribed conditions, employees of State or local government agencies may receive compensatory time off, at a rate of not less than one and one-half hours for each overtime hour worked, instead of cash overtime pay…state and local government employees may accrue up to 240 hours. An employee must be permitted to use compensatory time on the date requested unless doing so would “unduly disrupt” the operations of the agency.”
Click to access whdfs7.pdf
They have to compensate you at one and a half times for overtime whether it’s in comp time or pay, they can’t force you to take more than 240 hours of comp time per year, and they have to let you use it up. There was a big blow up over comp time in Wake County, North Carolina, and it resulted in improved quality of life for many. I’ll climb back down from my soap box now.
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Sometimes I bid on things in online auctions. In order to get the one thing you want, often you’ll end up with three that you don’t because they’re bundled. I started handing those things to the guys at the corners. An art book that I already own (I asked if he would like it, and he said that he would) was one. Another, I put in the guy’s hand just as the light changed. I watched in the rearview mirror as he looked at the fat little cherub in his hand and threw his head back in delighted guffaws.
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Thanks for sharing, Lisa! I technically work directly for a non-profit which our MCO contracts. So we don’t have the same rules but our boss is the state and we do the state’s work.
It’s wonderful to hear everyone in your husband’s unit lasted a long time. I think COVID has changed a lot and young people are are not as likely to stick around these days. And having 40 people to be responsible for can be pretty overwhelming. I’m only at 20 and my schedule is crazy booked. Turnover is very high in the field of social workers these days. I’m constantly asked “how long you gonna stay?”
But… we each do what we can. 🙂
There’s a whole section on non-profits in that FSLA link. Same same. Read it.
Working for the county was handy in that when he needed a change, there were always openings in other positions (intake, nights and weekends, he even was a supervisor for a while until he couldn’t stand being stuck in the office anymore and went back out in the field). When they opened regional centers, he moved to one of those–there was always something else to try that might keep burnout at bay and still remain a county employee.
There are a lot of perks that come with longevity. Now that you’ve got your foot in the door, you shouldn’t have too much trouble sliding into a county position. You don’t necessarily have to LEAVE leave.
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You are truly amazing! I love the way you embrace the chaos of daily life with so much gusto. Hell, if you can’t do that job, nobody can. However, if working so hard makes you sick then you need to find a happy medium with your boss, like maybe working four days a week instead of five. I’m not sure, but try to keep a healthy balance for yourself and your electric brain. Also, why does the Eye of Mordor look like an angry vagina?
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😂😂😂 Bahahaha the Eye of Mordor?!!!! Hahahaha you’re right and I don’t know. Probably because Tolkien was sexist. 😂
Or Peter Jackson… 🤷🏻♀️?
Yeah. 40 is overwhelming and most of the care managers have had 50+ because we’ve been understaffed. My organization is great though… I don’t think I’d be able to even THINK I’d be willing to TRY to do it if not for the flexibility in schedule and ample vacation days and support. And… with my brain… I kind of need a consuming job. I have to be careful though. 🖤
We will see! Thank you so much, Naomi. It’s always so great to hear from you! I hope you and yours are doing as okay as possible! 😘🙏
Thanks, Lisa. 🙂 That’s more what others did: they didn’t “leave-leave”… just went on to other positions with the MCO or elsewhere. Or RNs went to be RNs elsewhere but… like I said in the post, one RN was in ICU during COVID so this job isn’t more stressful than that.
This guy from our MCO does a monthly check-in and I got him to say that he too was a Care Manager (but they do things differently as in they just went to visit people, wrote down what they wanted/what was wrong/what was right) and then handed that off to someone else who then put in the authorizations and edited the 4 things which need to be consistent and made the calls.
Yeah. WE do all that. But, in any case, he didn’t last long just doing that and now is a trainer? with the MCO, checking in on new case managers. 😂
Doors are definitely opening for sure… foot in one of those doors. 🙂 But I’ll try to hang in with my organization. It does its best to balance the insanity of the job (and talk about mental health often) and I hear other places aren’t as accommodating around here. So… we will see!
I am a Care Manager with epilepsy in NY, and I think our jobs are pretty similar! It’s stressful as hell, and it’s true…no one will collapse if you tick the wrong box! A lot of people just need a sympathetic ear and support… you’ll do great! Jen
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Aw! Thanks so much, Jen! Wishing you the best as you continue to navigate the same electric path forward to helping others! 💙