Girl Gotta Use What She Got To Keep What She Needs
A Girl’s Gotta Use What She Got!

Getting a job is one hoop to jump through.  Keeping it is the other hoop.  The official prescription for job security is 1) Being on time, 2) Doing your work, 3) Producing the desired results, 4) Exceeding the tasks listed on the job description, and 5) Getting along with your supervisor and co-workers.  A smart employee mixes getting on the good side of his supervisor with “focusing on the work”.  Others cut to the chase to figure out what will put them on the good side of his boss and the frequency at which to “dose” the boss with it.

For Flo Davis, shake dancing and sharing her lunch keeps her on the good side of Big Cheez and Juliette.  Now, Juliette isn’t inclined to shake dancing performances–because she’s afraid she may join in–but the lunch time extras brighten the hour.  Mr. Perez uses humor.  He has jokes and stories to amuse Big Cheez and Juliette.  His jokes has him up close and personal at Juliette’s desk.  In fact, Juliette taught him the ropes of property management.  Like Flo’s dancing for Big Cheez,  Mr. Perez’s jokes serve as distractions for Juliette.  These distractions soften the truth that the move-out quota isn’t being met.

Big Cheez moved Perez from property management to Resource Coordinator because he doesn’t want anyone to lose a job unnecessarily and his soft heart gets tickled by Perez’s jokes:

Maybe the Resource Coordinator role will show his strengths.  He’s been in the same place as the clients.  He knows the clients’ needs and knows his path to independence and ought to tell it.  Only time will tell.

Perez didn’t let time get away before he showed his “aptitudes”.  Juliette calls Perez to her desk to give  him an important task:

Perez, as Resource Coordinator you don’t have to do all the instruction.  Use how-to videos that are on YouTube.  Search out service providers to come in to do talks, workshops, or demonstrations.  Our  nonprofit employer has a good reputation and is well-connected.  Collect names and numbers to schedule people to come in.  

I can do that.  Sure.

Juliette, Director of Social Services

Good.  You will set up a monthly calendar that you post near the doors of each dormitory.  Like Ms. Owens, you’ll have groups that want to make us a regular site to visit.

Yeah, that’ll be sweet.  Like a regular program.  I can do that. Sure.

Good, you have two weeks from today to submit your first two calendars.  You know that things need to be done in advance.

Sure.  I’ll start working on that now, Boss Lady.  Uh, Juliette, what topics do you think I should begin with?

Oh, health, education, employment, household management, and personal finance… You got it?

I’m on it.

Juliette gives Joy the same task.  Joy explains that she has 16 topics that she rotates throughout the year:

Juliette, I run the same workshop for a week.  I adjust or design a new workshop based on the comments the men make.  I also like these two particular speakers that upload their material on YouTube.  One is this woman who promotes the disruptive job search.  The other is a salesman who is a great motivator.  I remember what you told me when I first started here:” no movies and no videos beyond 15 minutes”.

This is great, Joy.  I have watched you do your workshops and see that you’re active.  Joy, will you help Perez get his program together?

Joy hides her annoyance at this order.  Perez, on occasion, can be found sleeping at his desk, in Joy’s office sleeping, or taking extended cigarette breaks.  

Sure Ms. J, I’ll help him out.

She comes up with starting her work day at home to select business cards from her boxes of cards.  She pulls 74 to copy for Perez’s use.  Joy writes a memo that categorizes the contacts and encourages Perez to drop her name when he calls.  She makes copies of this package for Perez, Juliette, and Big Cheez.  No one can say I didn’t help him.

Rather than invite community educators, Perez is confident that his life story counts much more.  The first time he presents, he has ten clients seated.  However, he keeps telling the same story.  By the third day, he’s talking to himself.

Mr. Perez

If a Case Manager shows the same productivity as Perez, Juliette gets into her “exchange mode”.  This is firing a Case Manager and bringing in another one in a few days.  If move-outs are what count to DHS and the shelter, what is the reason for keeping people who aren’t meeting quota, yet “exchanging” Case Managers for not keeping client binders stocked with the latest ILPs? These changes are a hardship on the other Case Managers who must take on the extra cases while the new Case Manager gets up to speed.

Juliette is someone who worked up the ranks to be seated presently behind a big wooden desk with shiny metal drawer handles. Juliette knows the in’s and out’s of the job.  The weekly meetings are like case management workshops.  The truth be told, Juliette never completed college. She did freshman year at a community college but, life kept interrupting her education.  She got married to great, hard working man.  He was out of work for several months due to an injury lawsuit against his employer.  She birthed two children.  Then, her family moved to Central New Jersey which made her commute to work 2 1/2 hours.  Juliette arrived to work close to 10 am most days but could be found there at 7 AM.  This meant she either stayed at Flo’s home or a family member’s.

How would she ever think to fire Flo when she puts her up rather than have her travel home?  When Flo offers salmon cakes, stuffed bluefish, and pork roast? Both of them are long time employees and friends.  Both aren’t college grads but, holding down the men’s shelter.  No, don’t fire Flo.

The same question is pointed at Perez: 

How can I fire Perez?  He has children who now look up to him.  Perez is funny, too and he has common sense.  Common sense counts a lot in this shelter–and in life.  No…don’t fire Perez.

Now the Case Managers, on the other hand, have college degrees.  Some are CASAC, CSW, MSW.  They can afford the temporary setback of losing a job.  They have college and work experience. They will land on their feet. Didn’t someone tell me the one with the Ph.D. is now a supervisor at a mental health services program in Sheepshead Bay?

So you see, figuring out what will put you on the good side of a supervisor is very important.

Getting Your Own Keys chronicles the professional odyssey of Joy Duggins, a resourceful and encouraging service provider in a Central Brooklyn men’s homeless shelter.  It gives a peek into NYC homeless services procedures and much workplace drama.
What’s the goal of providing temporary emergency shelter?  Getting Your Own Keys
$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Make a Donation

BK Reader is brought to you for free daily. Please consider supporting independent local news by making a donation here. Whether it is $1 or $100, no donation is too big or too small!

Akosua Albritton

Akosua is a communicator who loves to inform, engage, and enable her fellow New Yorkers. You may find her in a classroom, in an auditorium, or on a city street teaching the social sciences. Her favorite...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *