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“Laura, did you hear? I got a job!”

July 19, 2011

5. 5. This summer marks the most excited I’ve ever been for someone who has found employment.
This story starts out in the homeless shelter, where I work on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. While I’m there, I sit at the front desk, answering phone calls and helping clients with things while Sharon, the director, is busy doing other things. One of the duties that go along with “helping clients” is helping them make phone calls that are related to their case management because the phone they use is in the office. This usually means dialing perspective employers, landlords, etc and waiting while they talk to the person on the other line.
When a person is in the midst of job employment, they often call multiple employers to check up on their application, schedule an interview, see how their interview went—really anything to show interest in the job. For two weeks, one woman came into the office all four days that I had been working to make phone calls to various hotels, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants. I could see the desperation and frustration written on her face as various people promised to call back, connected her to managers, and gave non-committal answers to the questions she asked. After leaving messages or talking to managers, she’d turn to me and say “did that sound okay? I don’t want them to think I’m stupid.”
I became frustrated for her. I just wanted someone to hire her because she was trying so hard. She was in the midst of a crisis and needed a way out but was having so much trouble finding one, and I empathized with her. Of course, I had heard about how frustrating it was to search for a job. I have looked for a job and had been frustrated by the process of filling out numerous applications and not receiving and calls back. However, this was different. My summer job applications were not nearly as pertinent to maintaining, or bettering, my lifestyle as they were for this woman. This is especially true since most people only stay in the homeless shelter for a month. Imagine having a clock ticking on the amount of time you have left with a roof over your head, while jobs are continuously turning you down.
Then, finally, last Thursday she came into the office—looking for me. She came in and asked me, “Laura did you hear? I got a job!” I was ecstatic for her. I can honestly say that I have never been so happy to hear that someone had found work. More importantly, though, I was touched by her effort to make sure that I knew. The fact that she came looking specifically for me gave me some assurance that she knew how important her job search was to me, without me ever having to tell her. It also affirmed my belief that I was starting to build a relationship with this woman. Since last Thursday, she’s updated me to let me know that she has been enjoying her job, even though her shift often doesn’t end until 2AM.

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