23 January 2010

Good enough for government work ....

There is a reason why that phrase exists.

It's no secret that I work for the government. I'm a state employee and, for the most part, I enjoy my job, especially since I just transferred into nursing home Medicaid (or TennCare, for those of you who live in Tennessee) which involves one of my favorite demographics of people. I nearly fall in love with ever single old man I've ever come across - there was one 70-something man who proposed because he got a disability check and could take care of me.

Anyway, I can't go into many details because, well, most of the info is protected, but I have not been more frustrated at my job like I was yesterday. I'm updating files for several clients and I run across one that's been mishandled. And instead of admitting that something was done incorrectly, people have basically said, oh, well, just close the case and let them reapply. Um. No. We effed up on our end, so there is no reason to penalize the patient. Ugh.

I understand why most people have negative attitudes about going into a government building. Many times, before I started working for the Man, I'd gone in and the apathetic attitudes exuded by the people behind the desks makes me wish that I could just inject them with some sort of personality so I could at least somewhat enjoy my time there. I even tried to be nice and I was just met with ambivalence. And confusion.

Granted, I can understand the aloof attitudes, to some degree. I see a lot of needy people and if I was to feel remorse for every single person that walked through those doors, I would be depressed all of the time. But you can't completely cut yourself off emotionally. It's a balancing act.

Take a girl I had to call yesterday and explain to her that she wasn't eligible for Medicaid and that her food stamps case had to be closed because she made too much money. She got angry and I had to transition into my detached mode. I know that she's not angry at me but I've learned that, if I don't realize that and take myself out of the situation, I will get mad right back at her. So I shut my emotions down until she gets calm. Then I turn my empathy back on and let her know that I'm very sorry, I offer her different options and wish her the best of luck. At the end of the call, she's still frustrated but she knows (or at least I think she does) that I had done everything I could to help her.

But there's also the fact that people in my profession become jaded. We see truly needy people and then we see people who wish to scam the system. And many times, it's very hard to tell the difference between the two; you think someone is hurting and then you find out they're lying to you. Happens more often than I'd like.

But I made a decision yesterday that I would not sink into the "government worker" mentality. It's going to be very difficult because of the massive caseload that I have, but it's a goal, one that I think it is worth it. I want to be like Little Miss MFA at my office, who, after 32 years working as an eligibility counselor still has tremendous rapport with her clients and has yet to be in a bad mood in the entire 8 months I have known her.

Sigh. I hope I can make it 5 years, let alone over 30. Can I retire now???

1 comment:

  1. I had a bad day at work; and this post was quite relevant. I'm in retail, and often (daily?) have people verbally attacking me over things I don't control, or trying to cheat our systems. I need these reminders that the "venters" aren't attacking me personally. (The cheaters and stealers do affect me personally, though, so I'll continue to be mad about that) I suppose it's hard for everyone to avoid their "-----worker's mentality," but trying not to sounds like a fine goal.