Monday, November 4, 2013

Hard headed: my first assault on the job

My job with the public in human (social) services has been one filled with adventure and amusement. Most people hear about my work and wonder what kind of person I am to love it as much as I have. Crisis work has lead me to a personal body count, a knowledge of breaking into buildings, and more than one assaults on my person.

None of them are serious, so don't panic.

One of my favourite stories (apart from the time I watched the SWAT team clear a house) is from my first year in the field when I was assaulted.  By an old man.
146 Havana -old friends - B
Two old friends. Not my assailants.
I was green as the grass when I first started working at an advocacy agency that has long since been closed. My job was to go house to house and assess the living conditions. Our clients were poorest of the poor in terrible living conditions which they sometimes left worse.  On the off chance they didn't and were accused of it any way, I was there to make sure there was a record.

One day, I was visiting the home of a middle aged woman. Because of limited resources and a perceived lack of danger, I was on my own that day. I was not a threat, so thus was not considered likely to be threatened. I had already done many assessments without trouble.

I entered the house and was met by the woman at the door. On an old dilapidated couch, sat two old men whom she introduced as her uncles. I introduced myself, explained why I was present, and went about wandering the home looking for things.

Innocuous, right?

One of the old men didn't think so. He did not like a young, naive, bubbly white girl wandering around "judging" things. He mumbled about spoiled brats like me and told me I should get out. The woman told him to be quiet and encouraged me to get my assessment done. I wasn't worried and continued about my way.

I was dumb like that.

Looking back, I'm sure the old man was drunk as a rat. At the time, it didn't dawn on me. I was still learning about the ins and outs of poverty and how people coped with that life.  Now, I would have backed out of the house and made arrangements to come back. No big deal.

I continued my assessment - making notes on my clipboard (oh, Social Workers and their infernal clipboards) - and turned to go into another room.  I heard some motion and a slight whistling noise.

It didn't register what was happening until something thunked against my skull. It didn't hurt, but I whipped around nonetheless.  On the floor beside me was an empty, plastic lotion bottle. The kind with the blue twist on pump.

The old man had hurled it across the room and hit me in the head.  However, being that he was old and likely inebriated - and the bottle was empty and plastic - it barely made to to me and lightly bounced off my skull.

I did what any normal person would do. I burst out laughing.

It must have been the right thing to do because everyone laughed. I finished up my assessment and, when I left, I got a handshake and an offer of a hug.

I love my line of work.


  1. Amazing! I love that you instinctively did the best possible thing in that situation.

    1. Me too. Either that or I was going to get a beat down!!

  2. Hilarious!! I love that you laughed it off. Sounds like you chose the right line of work!

  3. Oh my goodness that is hilarious. When are you going to write a book!

  4. That is a great story! Your job sounds interesting. I would have freaked out though but I'm a chicken. Haha.


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