Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Today I woke thinking that this was going to be a good day and that I should pay attention.

That has never happened to me.  Ever.  I usually just get up, groove a bit with CoolCat, shake the dream webs off with coffee (I make a damn fine cup) and a quick game of mahjong.  Then breakfast, washing dishes and different rooms...trowel on the makeup and get on with whatever has to be done.

I am just not one of those people who plan much.  I have a decent schedule, and I turn up where I am supposed to be, with what I need to have, and on time.  Sure, I always have in my head that I will do a kick-ass job, but daily plans or affirmations or something of that ilk, never.  Not once in my memory.  I always give my best and, really, that is enough.  What I do not do is any kind of daily plan or focus or anything anywhere within that realm.  It seems like overkill planning to me, and my thoughts are that if I start my day, or week, or whenever, with some predetermined focal point, that I will surely miss whatever delights and surprises and challenges the day might offer. 

It is part of trying to stay in my conscious as much as possible.  Living in the moment means that I am not invested in a plan and that I am open to whatever happens.  It is my preference and it works for me.

So, when that complete concept was in my mind, even before coffee, it actually gave me pause.  I thought, what the hell.  However, I also thought that I would pay careful attention, because what else would I do with such an unusual notion banging around in my noggin.

My first client was a no-show, and when I was at the Reference Desk to let them know that I was available for anyone who needed help, a man came up and I took him back to the bat cave.  He was extraordinarily challenging, and we did what we could, and he is coming back next week.  I saw his name on the schedule.

And, I thought that maybe he was the thing for which I was to watch.  I was wrong. 

First client of the afternoon nearly was asked to leave.  This was a day of firsts, because I have never been so close to refusing to work with someone.  This is a tricky circumstance for me.  The only criticism I have ever received at this job is that I am not firm enough with my clients, that I continue to work with people who should be escorted to the door.  I cannot do that.  People have to really, really prove to me that they are unable to do the work, and I will go to great lengths to make our work productive, even when my client is difficult.  That difficulty can be for any of a million reasons, but I figure that many of them end up with me because they have exhausted or ruined their other resources.  It seems wrong to just give up on difficult people.  However, there are exceptions.

If you fail to show up for your appointments, three times, you can no longer schedule appointments, but you can show up and I will take you if there is an empty appointment slot.

If you use racist or cultural comments and/or slurs, I will let you know that it is not allowed and if you continue, you get to go home.  Frankly, if you use any kind of dismissive or abusive terminology against anyone or any group, same consequences. The problem is that our working environment is very safe and supportive and sometimes people forget that they are not talking to someone who holds the same biases.  We come to an agreement and move on.  I have never had to end a session with anyone over this.

If you fail to take the necessary workshops or classes you need to find work, such as computer keyboarding, or anger management (yeah, happens), or whatever specific thing you need to take care of, then you can come back when you do what you are supposed to do.  This includes the clients that are sent to me via the legal or correctional systems.  Okey-dokey, hope to see you soon.

If you are rude to the Reference Librarians, even though you are stressed and vulnerable...and we totally get can sincerely apologize to them if you want to work with me.  Only one person has ever refused to apologize.  And, you know, maybe it is not my business to be the apology police, but civility and common courtesy have gotten lost somewhere, and someone has to do it.  Our Librarians take a stunning amount of crap from some of our patrons, and whilst they cannot say anything, when it involves people who want to work with me, I am perfectly happy to share with them that everyone deserves respect.  Everyone.

Afternoon client should have been asked to leave, but I just could not do it.  She is the most scattered person with whom I have ever worked.  Her issues are greater than simply needing a job, although there is nothing simple about employment issues.  She managed to collect her thoughts after a bit, and so I am willing to have her return.  We were not able to complete any of the documents she needs, and job searching on her own is somewhere in the future, but she took home the work I gave her and she made an appointment for next week.  I can only hope for the ability and patience to help her as much as possible.

I take seriously my responsibility to this work.  It means more to me than lots of other things that are supposed to hold more meaning.  I need to do this work as much as people need to have me help them.  That feels like bragging or, even worse, hubris, and maybe it is.  I suspect that I am too close to this to have much perspective.  The work that we do together is important to both of us.  I think, sometimes, that having me to simply listen whilst they get divest themselves

But, she was that thing for which I was supposed to pay attention.   I am glad that I was.

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