in which he becomes completely nonplussed

I went to a job interview yesterday.

I waited half an hour in the lobby to find out that the job is a “community outreach” job. Which means that if they hired me, I would have the privilege of driving around the city to various apartments and housing projects where the clients live. It would be important for me, the man said, to withhold certain information, because many times if the clients find out that they don’t have to talk to you, they won’t. I was told that we would give them free furniture as a way to start the “relationship,” and to be careful not to tell the client that they don’t have to talk to me after they get the free furniture.

Those clients who do want to talk to you, my job would be to help them with “conflict resolution,” substance abuse issues, family and life issues, as well as teaching them “life skills” like how to keep their apartments clean, and when to change their clothes, like that.

And if necessary, taking them to the drugstore, the grocery store, or other places like that. In my car.

The population would range from people with mental illness to people with addiction problems, all the way to people who are “developmentally delayed.” Then there would be the people who are mentally ill, developmentally delayed, and have drug problems. And then the occasional developmentally delayed senior citizen who may be mentally ill, or drug/alcohol addicted. My primary focus? Making sure they stay in their apartments and don’t get evicted.

When I asked about insurance, they blithely said, “Oh, we don’t offer that right now. But we’re working on it.”

I see. I’d be on call 24/7, to drive to god knows where at any time of the day or night, to offer “assistance” in every kind of situation, and if I should happen to get beaten up, shot or stabbed, I guess I should just put that down as “life experience” and it can go on my resume, I suppose. If I live.

I consider it a great accomplishment that I did not laugh in these people’s faces or tell them that they were as crazy or crazier than their clients. I was polite and professional and made my excuses and left.

This is what they offer you if you have a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling and you want to work in the mental health care field in New Orleans.

I would add that this has, so far, been the ONLY job offer in my field that I have received after a week of sending out resumes. To be honest, it’s the only one I’ve received at all.

I will be going to Barnes and Noble and Borders this weekend. Not to buy books.

Next week, I will be applying for jobs that have nothing to do with counseling or working in the mental health fields at all. I cannot believe that I earned a Master’s Degree to be offered a job as a liar, an ass wiper and a walking target.


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