- Me: This is Joan. [not my real name.] Can I help you?
- Judy [actually, she never said her name]: Yes, hello, can you tell me--I'm trying to help someone with ______.
- Me: Well, unfortunately we're unable to meet that need.
- Judy: Well, what is this address on ____ road?
- Me: We have nothing on that road, I'm sorry.
- Judy: Your organization is everywhere! Why don't you have _____ here? What does your organization do, exactly, for people in this situation?
- Me: We do what we can, when we can, but we don't exist primarily as an organization for that need. I'm sorry, ma'am.
- Judy: Well, don't you have a phone number of other organizations?
- Me: Yes, have you called ------?
- Judy: Oh, I've never heard of them.
- Me: Well, give them a call. You could also dial -------. An operator will ask you a few questions and then can scan an entire directory of local assistance, and with availability information that I wouldn't have.
- Judy: No, I don't want to call that number. This is a small town and I'm a teacher and I'm only trying to help someone and I don't want to talk to them.
- Me: Well, here's the number of the only place in town, but if you really want to help your friend, I don't understand your unwillingness to call the other central number...
- Judy: You.are.making.an.assumption! I am NOT unwilling. I just do not want to call that number! Do NOT assume anything about me.
Right about here, I'm laughing softly because her tone has been mildly abusive from the get-go. I understand it but she is crossing a really funny line, getting all indignantly righteous on my ass! How can I help her if she's not gonna call the numbers I've given her? I don't know, and now I can't assume!
- Me: Well, they won't ask who you are, in fact, I don't even know who you are...
- Judy: Yes, but they won't be nice or helpful and you have been. You've been very helpful and I thank you.
- Me: Yes, well, I'm sorry I couldn't do more than that. Good luck with helping your friend.
The above is an amalgam of many typical calls I field in my new job. It's not my primary duty, but it falls to everyone to answer such a call from time to time.
I've had years of experience in this, but far too many years away from it. Surprisingly, or maybe not, it's easier than it used to be.
That could be because it's so easy to tell the pro's from the poor ones who've been genuinely surprised and dismayed to find themselves in difficult circumstances.
What's hard is to realize is that even in a demographic area that is thin on resources, and thus does not attract huge numbers of supplicants, one out of five may be truly pitiable and in dire straits. The rest are system-gamers, and needy in a different way because by this time, gaming the system is the only lifestyle they can sustain. It's all they know how to do, and so are ever on the skids, but fairly happy, plump, driving a car, talking on their cell phone, fussing at their kids, and being seen by a doctor, either M.D. or Psych. And so private organizations step in when the government game runs a bit dry, or the safety net just doesn't hold.
I'm not saying it's easy for these folks, having to gather papers, information, and stand in long lines and put up with unmotivated government employees, but really, it's no more aggravating and humiliating that a cubicle job in a large corporation. I know whereof I speak.
Yeah, most should get a job, but the government handouts have ruined their ability to do for themselves, understand the world, understand business, or survive without help. I see it every day. There's a whole culture built around it, that expects help as a matter of course, and gets indignant when private organizations don't jump when they squeal-- because that's what government institutions have taught them to expect.
It angers me that Obama, Clinton, and the Left want to see many more people like these; hopelessly dependent on someone else to run every facet of their life. It's sad enough to see people who've messed up their lives with bad choices or bad luck, and it's very rewarding to help them back on their feet. I love that!
But it's downright maddening to see perfectly good human potential enervated by the government's provision of soft landings for continuously foolish choices.