scenes from a welfare office

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so. last week at work they announced that they were gonna put me on the front desk when the program i work for opened to the general public. i was kinda pissed, because it’s WAY more work & stress for no more money. i was all, “these fuckers are trying to bully me out of here! they hate me! blah, blah, blah….” but then i decided that i need to shut the fuck up, because lately everything in my life has been nudging me away from the safe&boring and into the uncomfy-but-more-exciting. the growth. the change, the change, the change. so i decided to embrace it, because i don’t have any choice anyway. might as well go for it.

so, yesterday was the first day we were open to the public, my first day up front, and it was so fucking stressful and hard and i LOVED it. it was seriously the best day i’ve ever had at that job, by leaps and bounds. the other 3 people who were up front with me were all like, “this is the WORST day ever! look at all those people! oh my goddddd” and i was just literally running around the office with a huge smile on my face, so much so that my face actually hurt at the end of the day. (i was running to the copy machine & such, not just running for exercise)

i had this moment, in the afternoon, when i was sitting with a client, trying to figure out how we were gonna get her electric bill turned on. i could tell she was gonna be awesome because she had lots of hot pink & orange fake hair braided into her cornrows & hella good energy coming off her. at one point, she said, “oh, when i lived in north carolina, i had these friends who didn’t even HAVE electricity. they lived in the country, they made their own soap, they used an outhouse. their kids didn’t know who kim khardashian is–and they were SO HAPPY!” this statement cracked me the fuck up. “not knowing who kim khardashian is? that’s a good way to see how happy you are!” and then she laughed, and it was so strange, this odd unexpected gift, to be laughing so genuinely with a beautiful stranger, in the fucking welfare office in fucking pittsburgh on the busiest day of the year. i never thought i’d get there. never thought this would be my life. i was expecting to sit in a gray cubicle for the rest of the year, processing applications in silence, listening to shitty books on tape to distract myself from my racing thoughts. i looked at it as an ordeal to be grimly endured until i get out of debt and have the money to quit.

and i know soon it won’t be so fun. soon i’ll hit a wall, soon i’ll crack under the weight of all those terrible stories. 2 days only and 3 people have cried at my desk, i had to reject someone who really needs it (he didn’t cry though, and was actually really sweet about it), a woman casually referenced her daughter’s murder. only 2 days, the first two. but, oh, give me this any time over the slow death that my life was before. how did i live half-asleep for so long? why did i think that was ok? acceptable? any way to live one’s life? i don’t know. but i’m glad i got thrown off that trajectory, cuz i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it once more: the most dangerous life an aries can live is a safe one. here’s to unsafe lives.

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