Breaking up is hard to do, and in a good month I get to break up with 30 people.
What does it say about me that this is what makes me happy?
It says I am doing my job for the right reasons. There are plenty of agencies and programs and social workers who thrive on the statistics of the “people served”. But I am not McDonald’s. I care about the number of people who will never need to be served by my kind again. That is success.
Sometimes the break-up goes well: There is a flash of paper and I see numbers on a paycheck far greater than the numbers I find on my own (making me seriously question my vocational calling). It is always a joy to find a mom or dad who has earnings that put him out of the Welfare rolls.
Sometimes the break-up is terrible and there is screaming and crying, and even though we are sitting in a public space – hysteria ensues. “How could you do this to me? I need you! Don’t leave me, what will I do without you!?!” Gah – insert eye-roll and think happy thoughts while considering the Panic Button option available to me. It does not good to point out that this bad break-up is their own creation. “You didn’t return my phone calls., You broke several dates with me. I sent people to your home to talk to you on my behalf and you wouldn’t open the door to them. There were letters, I wrote so very many letters.” The emotional noise of all of this sometimes drowns out the truth of who is being hurt by the break-up. I am dumping a mommy or daddy (and sometimes both at once) , meaning there is a child left hungry and poor that I can’t help any more. In order to help the kids I have to help the parents and if all the moms and dad want to do is take the money and not put in face time at my desk or in a work place : well… there is not too much I can do.
Just before I took my break to write this, I received a phone call from a former client who is now working for a marketing company earning $24 an hour. that was a GREAT break up.