I Did My Best

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Working at a homeless shelter is fairly taxing. When you constantly strive to believe in the good inside of everyone, it becomes disheartening when you learn they are lying. Old habits die hard, as the saying goes.

To have someone look you in the eye and tell a complete fabrication is quite maddening. It feels like the soul is being ripped straight from your heart and getting crushed on the pavement before you. You start to distrust your own instincts and the words of your compatriots.

It makes me feel as if my intentions are wrong. I really just want to help people find a better place in their lives; to have others game the system is enough to bring my blood to a boil. When I see such reckless disregard for the wellbeing of others, I want to haul off and punch someone in their face.

I personally feel like a monster. I shifted the blame towards my co-workers for failing to inform; what really happened was that residents exploited my naivety. A moment like this is something that builds character, but not in a way I like. To become colder to the concerns of my fellow man feels detrimental to me.

I’ve always had a problem like this. At a previous job, I had trouble telling my co-workers no. If they needed a shift covered, I was there. I wanted to help as much as I could, despite what it was doing to my mood. I longed for some freedom, but was constantly shackled to the cash register. It lit a fire in my mind that was itching to lash out at anyone.

I ended up fighting myself. I would go home and call myself a spineless coward. I would lament how I’d wasted my free time at a job that wasn’t accomplishing anything. I became spiteful of the people who were taking advantage of my kindness; I was their whipping boy.

Now, it seems the cycle is repeating. I thought I had found the perfect job for me. This was something where I could truly make an impact on society. People would come in off the streets and get a second chance to change their fate. They would no longer need to live in squalor.

Just when I thought I had found the perfect job, I now feel like I made a mistake. I know I’ve screwed up, but I’m not still so sure I can handle the situations presented to me. I’ve been witness to a drunken woman calling me an asshole and claiming the shelter is worthless. I’ve had a person construct an elaborate story just to get out of losing their bed.

To then see those people on their discharge date claiming as if they were wronged is tortuous. How can someone be in such denial? In what reality is nothing ever your fault? How can you throw away the safety your children now have simply because you’re a fuck up?

It’s strenuous to bear witness to habitual liars, compulsive addicts and slothful youths who waste their opportunity for betterment. It’s reassuring when you do have residents who are strongly motivated and eager to leave. They are the exception.

When I started working this job, I felt bad for passing over all the homeless people I’d see on streets. I used to believe they were simply lazy. Now I know that my initial thought was correct. If you’re willing to waste your day on a street corner holding a sign, you clearly don’t give a shit about actually helping yourself.

I took a lot of strides to make sure I wasn’t sitting in self-pity for the rest of my life. I may not have everything that my heart desires, but I at least know that I’m trying. No one can take that away from me. To have to deal with people who want to casually throw their lives away makes me angry.

I don’t want to put everyone’s words into doubt, but I suppose that is the best way to deal with these people. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Luckily, I won’t be fooled again. I’m not going to lie down and let my chance at personal gain be ruined by someone who wants a handout.

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Unobtainable Love

Feelings of love are a very curious thing. They strike without warning and fester without asking. Love drives people to the brink of insanity or brings them to the cusp of ecstasy. Love can mend your life, but love can also break your heart.

I happen to find myself smitten with someone, yet I am utterly confused as to why. This lovely girl is someone I met over the past summer. I worked with her only for a few short months and I did not see a strong bond between us. The best quality about her, for me, was the ease I had in approaching her and speaking my mind.

Regardless, I have not seen this girl since she left work. That was approximately one month ago, give or take a few days. I wanted to say so much to her on her last day, but I held my tongue and wished her luck. There is no need to ruin her perception of me, especially since I could tell it was positive.

Still, this past month has seen me leave one job and become isolated. Wishing I could still have strong friendships at work, I keep thinking about the good times at my previous job. I had worked there for two years and all I can think about is her. Even though I have never spent time with her outside of my job and I actually have contact with a few other co-workers, she is the one I see in my dreams.

I remember the first day I actually worked with her, too. She had come back from another state and was transferring to a school locally. Being away from her family did not bode well with her. She was ringing a customer out and could not remember a few of the PLUs. I butted in, like I tended to, and felt some kind of superiority. She was pleased, but I was just aggravated that some petulant child was given her job back, regardless of qualification.

For the next week or so, I did not introduce myself or even really speak to her. I was not an angry or irate person towards her, but I wanted nothing to do with this girl. I had been working my ass off for nearly two years and had gotten barely any recognition, but this bitch could come back after a year and be greeted with open arms! That was infuriating beyond belief for me.

One afternoon, though, an older co-worker of mine had told me that this girl always loved working with me. She was happy when I provided help and was delighted that at least one of the baggers was able to competently perform their job. My presence, in all likelihood, just made her feel at ease. I guess caring about your job makes others perk up. Who knew?

Well, once I was told that, I swallowed my idiotic and misplaced pride and spoke to her. Turns out we had a few things in common, but not a vast majority of similarities. We both loved the Beatles and that alone gave me plenty of conversational pieces. I actually puzzled her with a few of the songs I recommended and her father interviewed Paul McCartney himself!

Still, I was astonished at how easy talking to her was. I could mention anything and this girl would respond to me. I have never had that happen to me, even with the girl I swear I was in love with. This co-worker shot straight up my list of favorite people to be around, let alone co-workers.

Over the weeks, we spoke more about anything that came to our minds. She mentioned “Portal” and how the game was seemingly difficult to her, which I chuckled a bit. I at least gave her credit for trying and explained that her perceived difficulty was probably just due to a lack of experience. I never belittled her or ridiculed her for not being able to complete the game.

When I mentioned I would be heading to DC for a System of a Down concert, she told me about how she was in love with them in her middle school/high school years. We chatted about some of our favorite tunes and even got another co-worker to add his two cents. The atmosphere shifted from work related tension to jovial fun.

Then one weekend, she had to get coverage for a shift of hers. She had randomly won tickets to a Dave Matthews concert and was not missing the show. That is literally her favorite band in the world. I happily took the shift for her and explained how if Dave Matthews was her thing, I understood perfectly.

Now I personally am addicted to Dave Matthews. Maybe subconsciously I am trying to impress this girl, but seeing as how I probably will never encounter her again, why am I bothering? Is my need to find love so pathetic and nagging that I will fling it onto a person no longer in my presence?

What makes matters worse is that this girl has been dating someone for five years. She obviously is in a committed and happy relationship, yet I keep seeing myself with her. Before I even found out, I told myself that I could see myself being with this girl forever.

That last thought is entirely silly and brainless. How would I even know that I love her? What exactly have I done with this girl to cause such a stir to my heart? What if I am entirely mistaken and just filled with lust?

Speaking of that, this girl really is not a drop-dead diva. While she certainly is a pretty girl and I had a strange infatuation with the way her teeth looked, I could not claim she was a perfect ten. What bolsters her beauty for me is how wonderful she is to be around.

I am not unattracted to her, but I was more intrigued and enamored with her personality than anything. Alas, she is not to be mine and I will more than likely never get these thoughts to her. Even if I could, though, would I want to?

As I have been trekking through the Dave Matthews catalog, one song comes to mind. The love song “Sleep to Dream Her” rings truer for me each day. A tale of a man who cannot be with a woman except for in his dreams; that is exactly my current situation.

I would never force her to be with me, though. Even if I will never be able to say I actually did love this girl, I care too much about her to enforce my own stupid wants and needs upon her.

Hopefully I will be able to tell her how I felt one day, looking back. Maybe when we are old and happy with families and responsibilities, I can laugh to her and recount how I fell head over heels for her. Maybe if I improve my voice, I can sing her the Beatles “Julia,” to which she claims her name comes from.

Whatever the case, I just am unable to remove her from my thoughts. She permeates in my mind and I have not made physical contact with her in weeks. If I ever hear that she has left her boyfriend, though, you better believe that I will make every attempt to cease my lack of “contact.,” even if my means coming back home.