I suppose I could be a poster boy for what I’m writing about today.
I set out to write about people who are doing work they aren’t qualified for, are unprepared for, or who are working at a job they don’t even want to do. Instead it's become an ‘I’ story, about me. That was probably a wise decision, I’m not in a place to judge.
Many years ago I was hired to work in a factory. I had just re-united with my family and it was a time when I really needed to work to support them. We moved to Guelph to start over and I found the job the day after we arrived. The job lasted 27 years and the only thing forcing me to leave was that the owners had sold it and the jobs were moved to the U.S.
I hated that job for most of those years but the pay cheque was something that was hard to part with. Often I would daydream about finding something else, but the thought of starting over was something I feared. What if it was temporary? Or if I didn’t make it through the probationary period? The job market qualifications had expanded to include those requirements.
My dislike for the job was a detriment to the company. I had gained experience and seniority that allowed me to be of value to them. They needed me there. Sometimes, if I was having a bad day and the foreman came down on me, my first reaction would be to take the next day off. I waited each time with a smile on my face as the foreman came to me and asked, “I’m making up the schedule for tomorrow. You won’t be in, right?”
"I worked almost 20 years on an afternoon shift. Days on this job started at 5:30 a. m. and I wasn’t sure I could get up every day and do the job but I knew I wanted to try."
Then I moved on. I had to go back to school and learn a new job skill. I went into health care as a PSW (Personal Support Worker). Going back to school at 52 years of age was a real challenge. The hours I attended school were the hours I hadn’t seen in years. I worked almost 20 years on an afternoon shift. Days on this job started at 5:30 a. m. and I wasn’t sure I could get up every day and do the job but I knew I wanted to try.
During the course the teacher told us that when we went out to do the practical part of the course, we would see things that we would not agree with. She went on to say that we should just go into the job and make a difference. She was talking about the abuse that goes on in long term care. I witnessed it, it does happen.
One day I was trying to get a gentleman from the side of his bed into his wheelchair. I needed a mechanical lift that he had to be strapped into and then raised up. I had trouble getting the strap around him and into the lock position because he kept leaning backwards. A staff PSW came along and I asked for some help. She grabbed him by the arm, leaned back and planted her feet and then yanked him up into the lift, almost hitting his head on it. She locks him in and then walks away. I couldn’t believe what I'd just seen.
For the first time in my life I had learned what it took to love my job. If I was going to work with people I needed to be a people person, treat people the way I wanted to be treated.
Over my 62 years I have worked with or watched others struggle in jobs they are not happy doing. As my kids made their way into to the work force I stressed that they should not do what I did. All of them finished high school so they wouldn’t have to start where I did. I’m proud of where they are today. They listened.
Today while on social media, a contact of mine wrote about waiting to pick up her granddaughter from school and noticing some ‘child minders’ (she’s in the U.K.) who were mostly out of sync with the young children they had with them. One was practically dragging a four year old, in a harness, down the street. Do people still use those things? I had to comment this:
I think about this subject a lot lately. I call it, 'this job might not be for you'. While working in health care, my teacher had told us that we would see things we wouldn't agree with as we went into seniors' facilities, but just to go in and try to make a difference. And I did witness something I would term as abuse, or close to it, on a daily basis.
Look at the police around the U.S. right now, saying that they ‘feared for their life’ and it allows them to shoot a man 9, 10, 15 times. What happened to the warning shot? Many school teachers shouldn't teach, many coaches shouldn't coach and many of the people serving you food shouldn't be doing that either. I believe there are these people everywhere and in every job classification. We are in most cases helpless to say or do anything about it... except to try, wherever we can, to make a difference.
Now I would never want to paint everyone in each job classification with one brush. One bad apple will never spoil a whole basket, but we have to agree there might be one in there.
It’s never too late to learn a new skill or dream a new dream. I may be doing volunteer work now but I’m working with people, I’ve become a people person and I love my work. It worked for me.
I didn’t know how to end this story but this just happened in real time so it works. I’ll leave it there.