crossroads

In the last two months, I think, I have been so affected by my job. Every Sunday like clockwork, I get so anxious–I get the deepest blues, knowing that Monday I have to go back and repeat the whole process. I do not know how to see the “bright side” when I have come to hate the environment so much already.

For a whole month, I had to take charge of 2 positions essentially: 1) as the program coordinator, I am paid to be and 2) as the front desk person that handles all the phone calls, intake procedures, customer service duties, and the comments of frustrated, insistent, sexist Hispanic men. That probably sounds really narrow minded of me, but let me attempt to explain.

I work in a “workers center” where the workers I see coming in are mostly unskilled Hispanic day laborers. There are a few that possess greater experience and skill for sophisticated jobs, like carpentry and plumbing, but due to their immigration status, they are unable to get licensed. This is only an example of one  of many challenges that stand in the way of these men (and women) getting permanent job opportunities.  So everyday, it is the same thing: I open at 7AM, make coffee for all, check messages to see if anyone has made a reservation for work, but 8/10 times, the things are slow–meaning that there are no jobs. Of course, that makes all of the guys anxious, which makes me anxious, because the “work space” is really just one small room, with the front desk shoved in a corner and the rest of the room filled with chairs for the men to sit and wait at. The room already starts feeling too small when there are 4-6 of them in there…they are all talking loudly, the phone is ringing and they suck so the person cannot hear me while I cannot hear them, the television’s volume might be too high, the front office staff are asking me to come and translate something because they do not understand something in English, an employer comes in rather impatiently sometimes, the copier’s ink still has not come in, we do not have money for program expenses (as far as I have been told), so I have to buy shit and get reimbursed months later, the men surround my desk telling me what they think I should do–call more employers, make more flyers for them to go spread in the community, they compare me to what my predecessors did and how I should adapt to do the same.

There is so much more than frustrates me, but these are the environmental dynamics. What truly makes my blood boil is that these have been the continuous factors that have caused my predecessors to leave. I get that nonprofit organizations have limited resources, but what this “workers center” has become, is a complete embarrassment. The leadership that was supposedly in place, has not been actively involved for a while. Just as an example, I should have known this was a *red flag* kind of job whenever I got a callback a day after I sent in my application. When I interviewed with the HR person and the President, they played up the whole “workers center” as a well established program overseen by the organization. I have always been told nonprofits are too idealist, but I was also naive in thinking that this one might be any different. Not only that, but the amount of “training” I received was the bare minimum. My poor predecessor, a young woman of 23 who stuck around for 10 months, was only able to sit in with me for 2 days, 3 hours each day. My boss and supervisor is the President/CEO of the organization and she was with me for around 3.5 hours. She is usually unreliable, sometimes not getting back to my emails until a week later. She overcommits, thus is usually running late to meetings. So to say the least, my perception has her and the organization has been deeply scrutinized.

They (the President and the HR Director) hold the highest amount of power in the organization and they demonstrate resistance with ideas that are different to the ones they have set in place towards how processes are done. I mostly get the resistance from the HR Director since he seems to be extremely ‘machista’ and likes to believe that he knows how to run and direct everyone. Essentially of course, they do not because they are not the ones with “boots on the ground.” Even if things were done a certain way in the past, circumstances CHANGE and one must adapt accordingly–not l reactively at the last minute.

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