bigger and better?

i quit my job today. while i’d like to say it played out like a scene in the movies with me saying something super clever, grabbing my plant and coffee mug, and stomping out the door with my head held high, it wasn’t. sure there were enough reasons to justify me doing so, but there were also plenty of things that made leaving bittersweet. i worked with a great group of people. my new supervisor was fantastic, and the population i worked with was challenging in the best possible way. and i can’t say i hated the core role of my job. so instead, i gave my two weeks, said my good-byes, put my headphones on at 4:30, and closed that chapter in my life.

looking back, i have to say i’m pretty surprised i hung in there for nearly four years. up until i took this job, i don’t think i ever worked at the same place for more than a year or two. i’m certainly not lazy or without a good work ethic; i just have so many interests. and the job this past four years hasn’t been easy – working with criminals, drug addicts, and poverty certainly takes it’s toll on one’s physical and mental well-being. i long ago lost count of the days i went home upset, saddened, utterly disheartened with the state of our society and how people treat one another. and the lying. UGH. how many scenarios played out like this:

me: so no change in residence?
offender: nope.
m: how about work? any progress in finding a job?
o: well my roommate might be able to get me a job at his job.
m: roommate? i thought you live with your mom. you call your mom a roommate? and she’s a he?
o: um…well…yeah. you know. sounds better with the ladies.
m: how about we start again. and this time, be honest. any change in residence?
o: yeah. i’m living with my pal at his place.

or my personal all-time favorite.

me: so why’d you do it?
offender: do what?
m: steal the items from that business?
o: i have no idea what you’re talking about. certainly wasn’t me that stole no items.
m: really? you fit the suspect’s description perfectly. your height, race, build, clothing. the staff person at the business watched you get into a car with license plates registered to you. heck, you still have on the same shirt as the one pictured in the surveillance photos. see?
**i hand him the pictures**
o: huh. well then i guess my question is how they got my picture inserted into their camera. sounds like a conspiracy to me.

and while i could focus on all the negatives of the job, the blood boiling bullshit that left me utterly pissed off, i’m instead going to share with you some of the things i’m going to miss. i know this may not make for the world’s funniest post, but then again life doesn’t always need to be funny. sometimes it’s ok to look back on things and just appreciate them for what they were.

so here goes:

a. helping others. i’ve said it a million times, and i’ll say it again: i know i’m on this earth to help others. offenders, orphans in nepal, five year old t-ballers – it doesn’t matter. this job, working with people who are at their lowest point, facing jail, prison, poverty, drug additions so bad they’d do anything for their next fix – i can honestly say i’ll miss it. i’m leaving a thankless job where i rarely found reason to smile. i was told i was the problem with the state’s economic woes and was called names as a result. yet like all my co-workers who are still working in the field, we do it because we realize we are all in this together. that everyone needs help at some point in their lives. the times i was able to put all aside and just listen to an offender open up about their past, their addictions, their struggles, and know i was in the position to get them the help they so desperately needed…there’s no better feeling in the world.

2. my coworkers. no one could work this type of job without the support of co-workers or the extended network of jail staff, courthouse staff, etc. we see crazy shit. we hear terrible things. and without an ear to vent to or a hand of support, there’s just no way to make it. not a snowball’s chance in hell.

d. baked goods. enough said.

4. variety. one day i’d be walking into an offender’s house only to find a loaded shotgun sitting on the table next to me, the next i’d be walking into a house filled with birds, dogs, cats, fish, goats, and pigs (both true stories). at 9:00am i’d be testifying in court about a murder case, and by 10:00 i’d be transporting an offender from prison. and while it was overwhelming more times than not, it sure wasn’t boring.

z. storytelling. i thoroughly enjoy listening to stories, and with ~100 offenders on my caseload, they were always in good supply. some people shared very little about their lives, others would talk to you all day long. some lived so-called basic lives. others had seen and done it all. and in a relatively short period of time, i’ve come to this conclusion: there are no bad people, only bad behaviors. you might sell drugs. you might steal a car. worse, you might injure another person. and while i agree that people should be held accountable for their actions, i can honestly say there has not been a single person i’ve dealt with in the past four years that was 100% bad. evil. no good. disagree? take the time to listen to their stories. try to walk a mile in the shoes of a person who’s lost it all. imagine living without food or companionship, or trying to bounce back from years of abuse at the hand of a drunken father. do that, and then tell me you still disagree.

i have no concrete plans for my future. while leaving a decent paying job with good healthcare, vacation, and retirement in today’s climate may sound irrational, i couldn’t disagree more. spending the next five, ten, twenty years at a job where the cons have begun to outweigh the pros? continuing to wander through a career that’s comfortable but not rewarding? for me, for my life, for my situation – that would be irrational. in what i’m sure will seem like ten minutes from now, i’ll be 80, and the only fear i live with is looking back on a life i settled for. today i made the choice to not let that happen.

Published by septastic

i'm sep, a 35 year old photographer / volunteer / storyteller / traveler / nice guy living in rural Wisconsin.

One thought on “bigger and better?

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