Thursday, September 30, 2010

Good Advice

(my coworker, Ms. Calmtone on the phone with a client)
No, it’s pretty nice outside, I don’t think you’ll need a jacket.  Just a shirt…yes just a shirt…(long pause)…yes, please wear pants too!

At which point the whole office cracked up, because we had all tuned in.  Remarkably, Ms. Calmtone kept her cool until she hung up the phone.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Buckle Up

So here’s the story.Sometime last week I got a call to do a telephone job interview (yay!) at it was arranged for Monday at 12:30.  Since I had a client appointment right before that, I figured I would book my ‘lunch’ on my calendar at the office, and take the call in my car.

So the day came, and I motored on over to one of my favourite parking spots (somewhere I’ve pulled over for actual lunch many times before) only to find the lot COMPLETELY full of cars and trailers for some movie shoot that was happening in town.  Crap.  I scrambled to figure out another quiet place I could go, that I could get to quickly enough to avoid missing the call while driving.

I pulled in to a local park where my only company seemed to be a couple dog walkers and a woman reapplying the chalk lines to the baseball diamond.  With minutes to spare.  Perfect.

So I start arranging myself, getting out a notepad and pen, a copy of my resume for reference, a bottle of water, put the seat into a good position, everything.  I review the job posting that I originally replied to, and make notes of a couple questions I might ask them.  I am soooooo organized.  And then I wait. 

The clock switches to 12:30 and I definitely have little butterflies in my stomach.  I know that I interview well face to face, but this is my first time interviewing on the phone, and I’m nervous.  This would be a good time to disclose that I actually have a LOT of anxiety around the phone.  Making calls and sometimes even answering calls takes a lot of energy for me sometimes.  My ultimate dream in life is to get a job where I have a receptionist, and I never have to answer the phone again. 

To push this all out of mind, I put on some music.  Pantera (not my CD) comes blaring out at me, and I quickly switch to something more soothing (John Lennon, New York City).  Unfortunately, I’m noticing that the butterflies in my stomach have transformed into an increasing need to go pee.  Oh well, the interview I was told would only take about 20 minutes, I can hold it.

But now it’s 12:51.  Still the phone has not rung.  I open the car windows slightly in order to get some air, and hum along to ‘Real Love’ to calm down and distract myself from the discomfort of my bladder (sorry, tmi?)

Just then, I hear the wheels of a car rolling up behind me, and turn around to see – what else – an approaching police cruiser.  Great.  My first thought is “did I miss a ‘private parking’ sign somewhere?” followed closely by “oh shit, what if my interview calls and I have to tell them I have to finish some business with the cops before I can speak to them?!?”  Not a good first impression.The officer came up, and I rolled the window further down.  He asked what I was doing there, and I told him I was waiting for a phone call.  This had to have been plausible, as I was sitting with a blank notebook open on my lap, and a cell phone ready in hand.  He asked to see my license anyway and I obliged since I really just wanted to get this over with, and also was pretty sure I had nothing to hide.  He took my card back to the car, while my eyes darted back and forth from the clock on the dash to my phone, clock, phone, clock, phone.  The officer returned my license and told me to have a nice day.  As an aside, I will keep this “waiting for a phone call” explanation in mind in case I’m ever approached by police again.  I figure since the ban on cell phones while driving has been instituted, they’ll consider this a smart choice on my part.By this point, it’s almost 1:00 and still no call. 

I get out my blackberry, and check the emails that had been sent back and forth confirming the date and time.  Yup, I had all my information correct.  This provides little reassurance, and in any case, I can’t really think about it because now I REALLY need to pee.

Fortunately, my parents live nearby so I decide to take a chance and drive over to their place to use the facilities.  I connect my phone to my Bluetooth just in case.

At mum and dads I’m feeling better after a quick trip to the loo, but the discomfort of needing to go has quickly been replaced by sheer panic about this interview. I log on to my parents computer and check the emails again.  I also look up the number of the woman who was supposed to call me, and decide it’s time I give them a ring. I dial the number, punch in the extension and…the voice mail is full.

Hmm.  Maybe she’s not in the office – should this make me feel better?  I there anyone else I can speak to?  There is no operator, and I don’t want to call through the crisis line.  I settle for sending an email along the lines of “I waited for your call but it didn’t come and I’m hoping we can reschedule because I’m still really interested in this opportunity I hope everything is okay and please let me know if there is anything I can do to resolve this situation have a nice day I’m just going to remain calm and remember that you don’t owe me anything and the ball is really in your court so I’ll bite my tongue about what I’m really thinking and I hope you notice the very professional tone of this email and feel impressed enough to call and offer me a job right away”.  Or something like that.

By Tuesday, I’d had no response.  I was sure of this after checking my email about a billion times.

I tried calling again, and this time I was able to leave a message.  What did THAT mean?  Presumably this woman was in the office enough to check her messages, so didn’t she read her email?  I did my best to sound professional in the voice message.

It’s now day three, and nothing.  WTF?  Maybe I don’t even want to work for these people – they clearly don’t have their shit together.  Except I haven’t totally given up hope yet.  But WHY oh WHY did the first response I’ve had to a job application in over A YEAR have to go down like this?

*sigh* If anything else does come of this, I’ll keep you posted.  If not, well… 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Is that sort of like a “sundial?”

Today's referral:

Mental Health Diagnosis
Primary: Sciphennia
Secondary: B. Polar

Safety Concerns

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hopefully NOT a sign of things to come.

Walked face first into the bathroom door at 6:30 this morning. Way to start the day, champ!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Breaking News

Yesterday on my lunch break, I decided to go to my old credit union to close an account. It was an old savings account with a couple hundred bucks sitting in it, that had been inactive for a couple years. The credit union is a little out of the way (part of the reason I stopped going there) so I had been putting this task off for some time.

They’d had some major renovations since I was there last, and had sleek new counters and fancy leather couches. They had also installed some of those clear markers of 21st century affluence, flat screen TVs. These days of course, we can watch TV everywhere from the queue in the coffee shop, to the self-serve gas pump. Much like all those other places, these screens (the one in particular that I could see while waiting for the teller to process my information) displayed a combination of ads for the credit union and their products, and “news headlines” from an online source.

My eyes invariably fell for this trap, and wandered over to the screen as I waited at the counter. I read “Martin Streek, the Toronto DJ respected for his knowledge of the alternative rock scene, has been found dead in his Toronto home.” Hmm. I thought that guy died a while ago. Maybe I’m thinking of the wrong person.
“Prime Minister Steven Harper should not have accepted communion at Romeo Leblanc’s state funeral.” Now I know that didn’t just happen. Several other “news items” popped up, confirming my suspicion – these headlines are over a year old! I looked them up when I got back to the office – yup, we’re talking July 8, 2009! Was I the only one seeing this?

Ah, technology: the way of the future. Needless to say, I was happy to walk out the door with my cash in hand, enjoying having the last laugh on this financial institution.

Friday, September 10, 2010


It’s Friday (in case you hadn’t noticed) and I’m feeling a little burnt out. Being the excellent mental health worker that I am, I know this means I should try to do some “self-care”. So I figured in order to lighten things up, I’d find something funny to post to the ol’blog.

Unfortunately, my .02187345 second internet search revealed that good humour about mental health is hard to find. I decided anyway to go with this classic, borrowed from

Hello, and welcome to the mental health hotline:

If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.

If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.

If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.

If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.

If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.

If you are manic-depressive, it doesn’t matter which number you press – no one will answer.

If you are dyslexic, press 96969696969696.

If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the hash key until a representative come on line.

If you have amnesia press 8 and state your name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number and your mother’s maiden name.

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, slowly and carefully press 000.

If you have bi-polar disorder, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep. Or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have low self-esteem, please hang up. All our operators are too busy to talk to you.

Hopefully in the near future, I’ll be able to check out the new Toronto Stand Up for Mental Health and hear some better material!

15) Staying at a job for two years is a ‘long time’*

It’s hard to believe I’ve been at this job for almost two years now. I’ve worked that long (and longer) elsewhere before, but this is the first job I ever had providing long-term support to clients. Most of my caseload now has been with me for the entire time I’ve been here.

In the last two months especially, I’ve started to notice things in my working relationship with my clients which I think are the result of being able to have this on-going support. Clients sharing personal information because they finally feel comfortable. New insights being gained through reflecting together on the past two years of their life. For me, know what times of year are hard for a particular person, and anticipating triggering events. It’s kind of cool, and weird.

Not having done this before, I’m always learning as I go how to balance the intensity of my professional relationship with clients and my personal boundaries. “Relationship” doesn’t even seem like the right word. I’m more keenly aware as I work with individuals longer that the whole thing is so one sided. I’m uncomfortable with the unbalanced power dynamic, and yet it’s so necessary. I admit, I resent my clients sometimes for how much energy it takes to support them. But I know it takes a lot of their energy too to do the hard emotional work I put them up to.

In a few months the intake part of my job will end, and I’ll be back to full-time housing worker. I’m curious/anxious to start fresh with several new clients all at once. In that case, it’s a bit of a comfort knowing I’ll still have my old stand-bys to give me some (unconventional) predictability and a feeling of (sometimes) stable progress. Assuming I’m still here for them.

*See here

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I take it back.

I’ve changed my mind.

Quote of the day for August 31 goes to the pharmacist I called yesterday:
Me: Um, hi, I’m calling to see if some medications could be made ready for me to pick up.Pharmacist: What’s your name?Me: They’re not for me, they’re for my client Mr. Lotsofmeds.Pharmacist (presumably looking up Mr. Lotsofmeds refills): He’s got some good ones here, are you sure you don’t want them?
Maybe I was in poor humour, but it seems to me that pharmacist making jokes about giving away serious meds to random people should kinda be like making a joke about a bomb when you’re in an airport.  Don’t even go there!
And all this as it’s all over the news that Ontario has the highest rates of Oxycontin addiction in Canada, one of the highest rates of abuse in the world! 
A place to live, a place to grow, Ontari-ari-ari-o!(sorry, anyone who wasn’t in an Ontario public school in the latter half of the 20th century might not get that song reference.  Consider yourselves lucky!)