Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More Pics of Ground Zero

Our CEO at work just emailed some nifty and uplifting pics of the damage to the building where I work. See the bricks smashing the hole in the roof? Now, stick your head in the hole and you'll be looking in the office where I kept all my client files.

All the clients have been placed in various local YMCA's until the building can be repaired and occupied. I know that must be a terrible hardship for them since they literally left with only the clothes on their backs. Many of them are missing their medication, i.d's, cell phones etc. I realize that none of this was their fault and that it's a colassal inconvenience.

The thing is, we've worked our butts off night and day ensuring that they had roofs over their heads, food, clothing and transportation.

Still, so many of them are feeling so much entitlement and making ridiculous demands. I met with a whole group of them at a YMCA today and, basically, I was a punching bag; a scratching post. I listened and felt like I gave some really good, professional, compassionate responses. I won't say it was easy, but I left there having listened to their complaints for over two hours and felt good about how I'd handled it. Years ago, I came across a slogan that has served me very well in this line of work:

"Listen without defending; Speak without offending."

Today, I really think I did that but, oh, it was difficult. As you might know, My People are very good at hurling quick, caustic remarks. If I'm so inclined, I can pretty much verbally filet someone. So, here are some of the remarks I've heard from some clients, what I wanted to say, and what I actually said.

Client: "I'm not able to work as much because the Y has an 11:00 curfew. I lose an hour of work each night and I want a reimbursement for the lost wages!

What I wanted to say: "Rub a lamp."

What I said: "Have your tried asking your employer to change your hours? I'll be glad to talk to him if you'd like for me to."

Client: "I heard everyone got fifty dollars the night of the fire. I wasn't around and I want my fifty dollars!"

What I wanted to say: "People in Hell want ice water."

What I said: "The fifty dollars was handed out by the Department of Human Services and not by our agency. It was just to get people through the first couple of nights but you're welcome to call DHS if you'd like. "

Client: "I'm not gonna pay my rent when we get back!"

What I wanted to say: "I'll alert the media."

What I said: "I understand you're upset, but I'd really hate to see anyone jeopardize their housing over this."

This went on for over two hours.

I'm tired.


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