Today, I left for work early. I had some errands. One of them was to pick up my diploma. I looked at it, but didn't really feel any excitement about it. I'm glad to have it, of course. I really don't think it would have entered my mind to actually go back to school if Tim had simply not said, "This is the right time. You need to do it." So I did.
I haven't talked a lot about the new job, but it's been kind of rough. I am working in a group home. It is not Occupational Therapy, but I am certainly using my OT skills. I know that the facility is where I want to work. I know that they are currently short an OT, but there is a hiring freeze on professionals right now. I am prepared to wait for the opportunity to step into that vacant job.
The bulk of my coworkers are young. 18 - 20 mostly. They are a tightknit group. Unfortunately, their socialization takes precedence over their clients in some cases. I am a stickler. Rules are rules. We've been told how things are to be done. To my thinking, you don't quibble with that. You do it. The younger people, well, some of them tend to BS their way through it, not doing the care that they say they are doing, or raising their voices, or whatever. It is not right. It gets discouraging, because being a stickler makes you a pain in their behinds. They argue. They make fun of you behind your back. Stuff like that.
I try to remember who I am there for. I am a mandated reporter. We all are. What makes me different is that I could lose my OTA certification before I even get it, so when things are done improperly, I have to point it out. In the end, it will be better for the clients, once we get everyone on the same sheet of music, but it's a hard job, and it is discouraging sometimes.
I know that the trainers love me. One of them has told me over and over that I am everything that she hopes to see in a caregiver. I am soft spoken and kind. Respectful. Follow the rules. Work hard. Team player. It has been noted that although we all have our assigned household tasks, I am always busy, and if I have a free moment, I just do what needs done, regardless of whose task it actually is.
One day, I went into work, quieter than usual due to yet another conflict with a coworker the previous day. I was right, she was wrong, but still it makes things awkward. One client is easily overstimulated by noise and activity, and so I volunteered to take him for a walk in his wheelchair. As always, as soon as we got outside, he settled down, and we walked for a half mile, slowly. I pointed out birds to him, and flowers. He doesn't know. He's not aware, but I do it anyway. Habit. I do it with all of them. He sat quietly, but occasionally, he would grab my hand for a moment. I like when he does that. It's the only sign that you ever get that he's aware that you're there.
I head my name, and was surprised to see a trainer running after me. It scared me. I thought that I'd done something wrong. I'd left campus with my client, but I was under the impression that we were able to do that as long as we had a cell. I had my phone in my back pocket, with the building phone number on speed dial should I need assistance, but when I saw her running, I immediately stopped, and began to turn around.
"Oh, no, you do not need to turn around. I just wanted to talk. You seemed quiet." So we walked and we talked. I spoke honestly about my discouragement, and she spoke very encouragingly. "You are making a difference," she told me again and again. She told me that she could see it. She gave me evidence.
We turned around, and headed back up the hill, me pushing the wheelchair. (Really, I am going to be thin again by the time this is done...) She chattered on, telling me what an asset I was. She couldn't have realized it, but her choice of words was a little astounding. Since going back to college, my prayer has been to make a difference. I just wanted to make a difference, and there was management telling me that I was doing just that.
It's not easy, but you know what? You can't really pitch much of a fit when you realize that your prayers are being answered.
Tonight I worked hard, like always. Tonight, I had three clients, all of whom are early-to-bed folks, so after I got the last one down, I had the time to wash the dishes. It wasn't my job, but it needed done, and it was a busy night. I finished my own chores, and my paperwork, and in the cool of the evening took another client out for a walk.
We walked along amiably, with him swearing a blue streak. It's what he does. I don't think he understands that it is bad. He is probably repeating the words of his childhood, poor old man. At one point, I reached out to make sure that he managed a curb without stumbling, and he took my hand, and held it the rest of the way home.
When we walked in the door, a coworker said, "Debby!" in a stern voice. "What?" I asked, startled. And she thanked me for doing her dishes. When I left tonight, two girls told me to have a good night. It felt good.
Here's something else that made me feel good. Thanks, Novel Woman.