Sunday, July 01, 2012

slice o' Sunday

I don't think the job matters, so long as it's something you're known for doing. Mike the Ford guy(from the TV ads) probably gets stopped on the street by yahoos wanting to know about a great deal on a new truck. The lady who does the Phillips Bro-biotic commercials, likewise, likely has folks coming up and wanting to talk about their colons. Or their diarrhea. 

I myself work for a social service agency, and with clients on the programs we administer. It's often stressful, but the stress is more from dealing with the clients than the work itself. Their needs are usually money-related, so there's usually much urgency on their part as far as the resolution of the problem on our part. It can be gratifying, as far as fixing a problem and thus improving someone's situation, but it's a job you definitely want to leave at the office.  

Naturally, just like with the Ford guy and the Phillips gal, people get it in their minds that you're the 24-hour spokesperson for whatever it is you do 7.5 hours a day on your job.  I've had folks call me, and show up at my door, try to ask me questions when I'm someplace having lunch, and even a message or two on Facebook. With very few exceptions, I kindly but firmly give the individual my work number, and that's that.

This past Friday it happened again. I got a message on my cel phone from someone I know. A friend, but not one I hear from all the time, so I knew it was something. And I presumed it was a problem pertaining to where I work. "Okay fine, I'll call you back first thing Monday- when I'm back to work", I thought. So there was another message on the phone last night. Dayum..

Like I said, I do not like getting work-related calls after 5 o'clock, and particularly on weekends. And I'm sometimes reallll sloww to return 'em. But by the same token, you don't want to just turn your back on someone either. It still may be something I can't fix until Monday morning, but he seems to be sweating something, leaving me two calls in a row.

So I called him this morning, a little after 9. Early but not brutally early. He picked up, as I figured he would. If it's that important, you're listening for your phone to ring anyway. Gave him my work number for future reference. As I'd figured, it was a problem I can't really address until Monday(when I'm at my computer and bringing up all his information)but something he needed to talk out before then. So in that sense, we got something done today.

With these problems, sometimes half the battle is just getting it off your chest. He felt better, relieved to have talked a few things out. And I felt better, having been there listening. It was actually a nice way to start a Sunday. He said he was heading to Church from there, and I headed to McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin meal. 

When I get these after-hours calls I generally feel 1)irritated, getting asked about the very stuff I'm trying to recuperate from, being pulled back into the mire I finally got to step out of; and 2)guilty that I'm so reluctant to respond. But then it's only human, and I try to cut myself some slack, and not castigate my own ass for not being a Saint as far as providing selfless service. For thinking about myself, my own exhaustion.

I think psychologist Albert Ellis had something when he said, "put your own interests first, and those of others a close second". When I do this, I must say that I feel a lot more in line, a lot less conflicted as far as what I should(or shouldn't)  be doing. If I'd "dutifully" called my friend back on Friday evening, I'd have been grumpy and a little bit resentful discussing problems 2 1/2 hours after the end of the workweek, drinking beer and trying to shake it off. Had to take care of me right then, but as I said, planned to take care of my friend as soon as possible.  Sunday morning was(again, as Ellis would've said)the elegant solution

Well, happy Sunday. Actually Mike the Ford guy probably doesn't have it so bad. Along with all the Jethro's asking about trucks, he probably meets a few babes..