Saturday, February 09, 2008

Don't call ME "cute"!!!!

We're interviewing social workers at my internship to replace the fella that's leaving. Sally, the program director, likes to invite candidates to staff meeting and let all of us grill them. You'd think it would be lots of fun to watch people squirm on the hot seat, but it's not. Maybe because social workers are too nice to impose real hard-core stress interviews. (This doesn't include social workers employed by The Other Bad Place.)

Anyway, our first interview was a very young, very skinny girl fresh out of social work school. I hated her for being so thin and delicate and dewy, but she seemed to have a real passion for the work, if not actual experience doing everything we do. I asked her several questions about what she'd be able to handle and gave examples from my own experiences, trying to illustrate what the job is like. (Remember, while Melanie was out I was a de facto social worker at the office.) Hardly anyone else asked her any questions or spoke about themselves, so after a while I felt self-conscious.

On Monday we have another interview, and Sally asked everyone to make sure to ask the candidate lots of questions. "Yeah," I put in. "Because last time I had to step up, and I felt like I talked too much."

"It wasn't too much," said Julie, the second-in-command. "It was kind of like we were interviewing you. It was... cute."

CUTE???? That's how we talk about the CLIENTS, because they do and say very endearing things. One client asked me if I would take her to IHOP in Melanie's absence, since Melanie had promised to take her there on New Year's Day. As I was eating a $5 plate of lettuce (even the salads there are bedecked with bacon -- when I ordered I sounded like something out of When Harry Met Sally), the client looked up from her 10 pounds of pork (bacon, ham, and sausage), smiled shyly, and said, "You think Melanie's going to be jealous that you took me here?"

"If she is," I said judiciously, "then I'll take her here, too." I reported this anecdote at team meeting, and everyone thought the client was adorable and I was hilarious.

So I want my co-workers to think I'm funny, not cute! It worries me enough that they might suspect I'm as similar to the clients as I am to the staff. I brought in some candy I love -- Twerps, made of licorice filled with taffy. Completely artificial and delightful; I love the contrasting textures, and it's fun to squish the taffy out of the licorice tubes. I wanted Melanie to try them; during our long NYC odyssey, among other topics, we'd talked about our favorite candies in detail, and I started craving Twerps as soon I described them to her.

So I brought in a bag of Twerps, and had a few. Next thing, one of the other workers said, "Ayelet, you're so happy today! You're smiling, you're giggling..."

"Crap," I thought. "I'm hypomanic!" Because when you're hypomanic, everything you like, every idea you have, becomes the most incredible, magical, transcendent thing that you absolutely MUST share with everyone.

It's really difficult to calibrate how long I should use the light box each day, and it's possible I used it a little too much and over-elevated my mood. I've laid off it for the past few days, but I'm afraid my mood will crash again. I need to start watching it again -- and watching my mood.

But Sally called me into her office and told me that bigwigs from the main office would be calling soon to recruit me. (I guess I didn't make a complete ass of myself at the group interview -- and if I had, I do believe Melanie would tell me.)

The agency likes holding on to its talent, since it invests a lot of money and time in training them, and developing workers to move up the ladder. They hire many of their interns and tend to promote from within. So even if I can't stay with the ACT team, I might still get a job at the agency. If none of my other networking efforts yield fruit.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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