Location: Oregon, United States

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The First Day on the Job

Tuesday was my first real day at work. I was instructed to wear my outdoor clothes and asked if I had a walking stick. When I said, "Yes, I have a walking stick!" my coworker, Lisa, said, "Good, bring it. I have one I always bring and I have Mace as well." Oh. I guess the walking stick isn't exactly for the rough terrain.

I met my coworker at a local park where we hung out, talked shop (Fun!) and scoped the area for possible homeless people. No one there today, which happens, so on to our next stop. Lisa had arranged for us to visit one of her clients that had recently gotten into housing. He is originally from Venus and wears a full beard and a skirt. Nicest guy. We checked in on him, made sure he has what he needs, touched base with his temporary roommate and moved on.

Next stop, a drop in center for homeless where they can get a hot meal, do their laundry, take a shower, etc. The staff was in a meeting, so we introduced ourselves to the clients that were there. As soon as they knew who we were, a few of them expressed interest in talking further. Evidently this drop in center is so overwhelmed they have very little time to sit and listen to the needs of their clientele. Not impressed. So Lisa talked to a couple of people and I spoke to a gentleman that is most likely suffering from delusions. We call this therapeutic hanging out. When the staff meeting was over, we met with the director of the agency, who is the creepiest person I've ever met. She was judgemental, rude, self-righteous, and unprofessional at best. Lovely. On the other hand, she is the only person providing any services at all and she has done a lot of good for the community. Still, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Last stop was a hike in the woods behind a cemetery. This area used to be a big campsite for several homeless, but it was flooded out last winter. The debris is still all over the place - sleeping bags, clothing, garbage. We scoped out the area for new residents, found a new campsite where no one was home and another with a couple of migrant workers. Must work on my Spanish. It was very interesting to watch Lisa on this walk. Much more cautious, very wary, instructing me on the proper etiquette for approaching someone in their campsite. Most informative. I have the feeling she's got some stories to tell.

Overall, it was a very good day. The clients we met were really interesting people, my coworker is a gifted professional, and she tells me the agency is kid and dog friendly and encouraged me to bring the dog on our next day of hiking outreach. Dude! How cool is that? She also said that they are totally low key about how you fulfill your hours, as long as you fulfill them. Can it really be? Only time will tell...


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3:45 PM  

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