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Hellbent

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  1. Oy vey. So I have been living a very easy going life the last few months cooking meals three nights a week for myself and a woman with mild intellectual disabilities and helping her get to work on time (we'll call her Dee). In exchange, I get reduced rent ($125 shy of free), a weak WiFi signal and the woman I'm sharing the meals with does most of the clean up after meals (to the best of her abilities). In addition to this, been mostly enjoying a very part time respite job that is very straightforward and good pay (only 7 hours a week) in the beautiful rocky neck district of Gloucester.

    A lot of time and energy has been going into ensuring Dee is getting the best possible supports to help her be as independent as possible; with the main issue focusing around her getting ready in the morning without needing more than, say, one prompt. The key person in developing strategies and skills (tools) in facilitating Dee in being self-reliant in the morning routine has been a woman who has been something of a mentor to me the last couple years. It has been going well and we just had a two hour meeting to discuss the relevant issues surrounding chores, divvying up meal costs, setting up meal plans and ensuring that progress is being made in following new routines put in place to ensure Dee is succeeding in being ready in a timely manner in the mornings she needs to let the dog out to go for a walk (which is every morning) and more importantly to be ready to go to work when The Ride comes to pick her up at varying times in the morning.

    At the last meeting Dee's mother made a comment "I sure hope you both are going to be sticking around for awhile" (referring to the other live-in Companion to Dee who has no experience supporting someone with any kind of intellectual disability). This made me uncomfortable as I had rescheduled an interview I had erroneously made for a job at the same time as the meeting. The interview was for a full time live in position at a high school dorm 40 minutes away. It would mean I'd have to abruptly quit my lead role as companion to Dee and move out as the Dorm job would be starting in less than three weeks time.

    Three days later I had the interview and it went surprisingly well and I was offered the job on the spot: $35K salary, benefits, 401K, all meals, rent, utilities and high speed WiFi included free. This is an intensive 9 month job running errands for 18 wealthy boarding students and keeping them inline. Most weekends are "on call" with rotating weekends (with two other "dorm parents") totally off.

    The reason the interview went so well is that my friend who is highly regarded in the sales department of the company referred me as a good candidate for the dorm position and gave me a glowing review. So all of a sudden I'm being offered a pretty sweet compensation package; far exceeding anything I've ever been offered or eligible for. I was a bit on the fence, tho, as I wasn't sure I was up for dealing with a bunch of bratty, entitled foreign high school students. But more than that, I was torn about letting down Dee, her mother and my mentor.

    My friends reassured me they would understand; that these sorts of decisions are business; people change jobs and careers all the time. That's life.

    I told my dad thinking he'd be supportive of me getting a real job, but he cautioned me about the whole thing; told me to be sure I was going in with my eyes open. We had a couple decent-length discussions about the pros and cons of the job. When I texted him I had accepted the position he did not reply. Several hours later I texted again "Hello?" and he replied "okay good going", so I replied, irritated: "Thanks!"

    I told my brother thinking he'd be very pleased as he's always been on my case about not having a real job; concerned about my future etc. etc. I tell him about the job and he asks me when am I going to get a job that involves my English degree; like being a teacher.

    I told a couple of my close friends and one was supportive, but not overly so, as though he could also see some possible pitfalls to the position, but overall he gave it a thumbs up. His wife, whom I like and respect was more enthusiastic about me getting a real job. When she heard I got the job and that summers were off she was very happy and said we need to celebrate! After two days of mulling it over, I finally confirmed with the lady who interviewed me, once I heard that summers were off, that I would take the position.

    Now to the present: Dee's mother had a couple weeks ago invited me and Dee over for a pre-xmas-eve after dinner atmosphere get together. "Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts". Mmmmm... a perfect opportunity to tell her the terrible news. :(

    The first thing she asked me about was the job interview I had to reschedule on the day of our recent 2 hour meeting. So I tried not to hem and haw too much and cut right to the dirt of the matter. She was not happy, though she remained cordial. She asked how thorough of a search I had done for a job that would coincide with my current housing arrangement setup (she knew I hadn't been very active in looking for a job). She intimated that it felt like a breach of contract, though she acknowledged there was no actual contract. It wasn't clear if Dee fully understood that I had made the decision rather than just something I was considering. I had tried to explain to my friend Jim who made this new job opportunity possible: Dee's mother is going to be more upset about me leaving after less than 3 months than she would be if I had left after a year. A year at least would have given Dee a year of stability. This is tearing up a sapling just as its roots begin to take hold in new soil.

    So I felt horrible sitting there trying not to dumb down where my decision level was for this job I had been offered. By the end of our nibbling on roasted chestnuts and some kind of nut jamboliya, I had told Dee's mother that I had made my decision, even though inwardly I was having nagging doubts. Am I terrible person? Is this unethical of me to lead everyone on that I am happy with this setup with long term goals to enrich Dee's life? I never really explicitly said that, but I haven't been holding back at the meetings etc and everything has been going really well at the house between Dee and me. She enjoys the meals I make; she laughs at my cooking foibles and we have fun impersonating what her adorable dog must be saying in her head when she looks at us with those too-cute expressions of hopeful expectation, one paw lifted in the air, a half-snaggle-toothed grin forming on her little mouth. Should I take the job or remain a simple, humble hobbit with ne'er a care in the world nor much edifying or challenging about my day to day routine? (I do love Hearthstone, tho!) or should I take on a new challenge that might open up some new opportunities for me, might provide new avenues of growth? Does the risk of not liking the job and uprooting something that was doing good for Dee outweigh the potential good the job might bring to me?

    Ugh, I guess I need to email my mentor now that the cat's out of the bag. She just left for the UK a few days ago for a few months, but she will be staying in touch with Dee's mom regarding how things are going at the house. Don't think it's very good for me to leave her to learn about it through Dee's mom rather than me. :(

    When I told Jim how badly Dee's mother's reception to the news went he replied: "Yikes." and then "Are you giving me your first paycheck or you want to do it 50% of your first two paychecks?"

    1. Show previous comments  14 more
    2. Chezza

      Chezza

      Hellbent, it sounds like you and your family has strong ethics, which is great. I'm getting the feeling you believe you have made the wise decision but surprisingly received pretty poor responses from your family and friends. This could be a primary reason why you have written this in a Doom World blog, to get further clarification on whether you did the right thing or not, to get that support you were looking for. but I'm no psychologist.

      If I was in such a situation and asked my family for advise, as good people as they are the general consensus would be "Drop her for the job, you need to think of yourself and your future and it's not like you really owe them anything". Whether you actually owe them for the nice arrangement or not is subjective of course.

      Well some of my family influence has rubbed off onto me because I believe you have made the right decision. Granted looking back maybe taking it a different approach may break less hearts in a way but based on your story you already invested lots of thought into this and have taken a pragmatic approach. If you were to mention the interview you would of been guilt tripped into letting the opportunity go, which you must of thought about and made a calculated decision to avoid. Personally I respect someone who can break through emotional barriers to make hard decisions thing but still kind enough to care about it.

    3. Hellbent

      Hellbent

      Thanks Chezza,

      The job has been... a bit of a rollercoaster. Had a sad fallout with one of my staff (who was the manager before I came). She was awesome, and it's been really sad that she is no longer at the dorm. That fiasco aside, which I don't really feel like going into details about out of respect for the parties involved, the job has been challenging. A pretty steep learning curve. But, after about a month of turbulent waters and a shaky ship, yesterday afternoon it felt like the month long storm suddenly ended and the sun came out. So I'm hoping the worst is behind me now and I'll start plowing forward with a sure course and can keep on top of all the things that need to be managed, which are quite a lot. But I was up for a challenge and knew I'd get one; I guess I didn't think I'd get such a curve ball so early on in the job. Nor did I anticipate so many things needing to be managed and tended to

      It's easy to be hard on myself for every little mistake I make or mishandling of a situation, but I realize it's part of the learning and that the ship doesn't sink so easily; the waves may crash about, and sometimes knock people down, and at such times it feels like things are falling apart, but you keep moving, you keep doing what you need to do to fix each problem as it presents itself, in the moment; you just worry about solving one thing at a time, and then you see that the ship rights itself, you get a lull in the storm, and the ship continues on its course.

      I haven't talked to my mentor since I got the disapproving email from her; but I have mended things with Dee and her mother. I have kept in touch with them both; visited often, and enjoyed each time I visit. I have also been texting Dee regularly; though slightly less as time goes on. She is doing fine.

    4. Tango

      Tango

      this all sounds like quite the roller coaster, sorry you had to go through that man. in particular the email from your mentor sounds like a really uncomfortable situation; that definitely would have stressed me out bigtime. but I can certainly agree with doing what's best for you, and what Creaphis said is pretty wise. good luck with the new position :)

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