Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hard, At Work

I'm sure there are probably some exceptions, but I imagine that every job under the sun has its share of ups and downs; even the most rewarding of positions comes with its share of bad news to be broken, even the best of fits has a portion of lamentable administration.

I'm in a new role in my workplace, as an educator, and although I find elements of it highly rewarding, it has been a harder adjustment than I would like to admit. A big reason for this is probably ego; having come from a position where I implemented a program of my own design and a fair amount of latitude, I now find myself learning massive amounts of new information and struggling to keep up at times, and having to ask for assistance with unfamiliar new tasks.

Obviously, a period of adjustment is only natural, and my new colleagues and superiors are only too happy to give me any support I need, but I'm still uncomfortable needing it, as ridiculous as that may seem. On the plus side, those I am instructing have responded very favourably, and with as much patience as anyone could ask for.

At the end of the day, working with good people is about as much as any of us can ask for, and on the days when things have gone imperfectly, I think to myself, hey, at least I am not a doctor, and had a patient die on table, or maybe a police officer who had to go home after defending himself with his sidearm.

Or my wife, working for far less pay as an educational assistant in a school that continues to challenge her despite having been there for six years.

The new school year is not yet two months old, and yet Audrey has now held marijuana for the first time in her life, after taking a suspicious substance away from a student. (It was a pair of sixth graders who confirmed what it was for her.). She has discovered that 4 of the students she knows are victims of sexual abuse, and that in some cases, the attacker was a relative.

One of her students stopped eating for the weekend, and was, unsurprisingly, feeling ill today. Audrey discovered some of the boys, led by a particularly vicious youngster, have been taunting her and calling her fat, despite the fact that she has a build close to that of my youngest daughter (who I can't even describe as 'pleasantly plump' with a straight face). When Audrey sat down with the girl to explain why she can't simply stop eating for days at a time, she discovered that the girl's father, a 45 year old diabetic, recently had both his legs amputated, and has essentially given up on living and wishes to die.

"It's even more important then, that you stay strong: for you, and for your father," Audrey told her.

Hearing about the situations these children face every day, and knowing that Audrey is confronted with them on a regular basis, makes it churlish for me to dwell at all on whatever shortcomings I might face in the workplace. But even for her, it isn't all bad; today, her sixth graders used subtraction to figure out her age, and quite a few of them were surprised at the result.

Apparently, there is balm in Gilead; sometimes a little recognition and compassion can go a long way in salving a bruised world.

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