Saturday, October 13, 2007

...And Another Thing About My Job!...

It's promising to be a lovely October day -- a day perfect for yardwork or sightseeing or apple cidering with my two- and four-legged loved ones.

I will be doing none of those things. I will instead be sitting in a conference room, in a public building set literally in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, at a "community fair" geared for economically disadvantaged families. My agency, which serves the elder population, is a member of the community committee that has set up the fair, so even though our services have relevancy to only a small number of the target market, it's politically expedient that I "represent" at this affair.

I will have my agency's visual dog-and-pony show set up on a table -- a table that I have to tote there myself. And if this fair is like past fairs at which I've presented, I will have meaningful conversations with perhaps two or three attendees. Most people who show up are there for the free stuff -- the pens and keychains and other promotional bling -- and couldn't care less about the information being offered.

I remember, one year, exhibiting at a senior health fair at a local casino. Now, if you're an older adult, and have the option of going into one room filled with oxygen companies and wheelchair salespeople and hospice workers and other providers whose presence sends an unspoken message of, "You're old and sick and going to die really soon," or going next door and playing nickel slots until you get hungry and then heading for the all-you-can-eat buffet down the hallway...where are you going to go? I thought so.

The silver lining to this is the fact that I can comp my time on Monday. And today I'll bring my work laptop and work on a project, and also bring my new Feeling Good handbook and work on the exercises; it's kind of appropriate, I think, doing a little cognitive self-therapy in the context of today's assignment.

But -- oy -- I am so tired of this stuff. I think I do quite well putting on my public-service game face during events like this, and every so often I make a meaningful referral and can go home happy about actually having helped someone; but it becomes wearying. I go home exhausted and cranky. I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing this for a living. I think the fact that the other areas of my life -- my personal life, my life in my faith community -- are so rich and full underscores my unhappiness in this sector. And then I feel guilty for thinking that; I mean, my God, I live in one of the most underemployed counties of my state, and should be on my knees thanking God for my job every morning.

I used to work with an ex-Marine whose favorite slogan was "Persevere!" I guess that's good advice. So that's what I'll do today.


Verdugo said...

Have you read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird? A great book on the process and lifestyle of writing (which is perhaps your true calling), and one of the best things about it is she shows how writers take everything that happens in life-- particularly the grinding annoying things like this (as opposed to genuine tragedies)-- and turns them into fodder for a short story. Might be a good way to wile away a few hours sitting at the community fair.

When my daughter was little and I was a single mom we used to love reading Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. That was the thing that was so great about that book-- it turned all the annoying things of life into fodder for a hilarious book. I can remember a morning when everything seemed to go wrong, late to school, no clean clothes, car won't start, toaster is busted-- where we were reduced to hysterical laughter over the many signs that it was indeed A Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.

P.S. an after-thought said...

I would in no way discount your feelings about this "fair," but I would like to remind you that you make your agency known to people who might be friends of or relatives of someone who might need the services at some point later.

We found with my mom's situation that some of what we needed to know, we only found out accidentally or through word of mouth, and some of that was the most important info.

Is Feeling Good by Burns? I have a paper back copy of the book, not workbook. I liked it because it was balanced, not just "take a pill." Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong topic???

more cows than people said...

hope the perservering goes quickly today and that the comp time on monday is glorious.

sounds tedious for sure.

good for you for bringing the notebook, etc.

zorra said...

I'm not sure those fairs ("provider fairs", our agency calls them) accomplish much. To make you go to one on a gorgeous October Saturday is beyond the pale.
I hope the weather will be just as nice on Monday.

Counselor in Process said...

I know those fairs can be tedious. I used to have to do them, now we host them, gather the bling, then leave.
But having a Monday off...priceless!