Regardless of my efforts, it was never enough. To be honest, I wasn’t sure why I was chosen to work at “Ben’s Place” as there was obviously someone more qualified and experienced than me that can get the job done assisting the mental and physically challenged. Maybe it was too expensive to do so?
I recently moved from a small area and wanted to make sure my disabled sister has some activities to do. However, she was still on the waiting list to get the services she deserved so she ended up going to a non-profit adult day care (paying $125 a month) where disabled friends can meet up and hang out; doing numerous semi-repetitive activities to make the joyful and chaotic days pass by quickly. She loved it. I loved it because I wanted my sister to be happy.
A week after my sister joined Ben’s Place a boss asked me if I was doing anything. I recently graduated from college (B.A degree), I moved away from an abusive household, etc. I wasn’t busy really and I was discovering my new surroundings. Because I was new to the city, and got along well with the students whenever I picked my sister up or dropped her off I was offered a job. I solely wanted experience. I wanted to understand myself and others through this job. I didn’t need the income as my job was already taking care of my sister (In-Home Patient Care Assistant).
In the beginning, the boss was kind to me. Everyone was kind to me (there were 3 co-workers at the job). It was fun and creative. Upbeat music was playing every morning to bring in a happy mood. There was cooperation from everyone. Cool lessons were taught. I never got bored there. Everyone seemed very happy. But let me tell the truth about the work environment and myself.
I wasn’t ready to work. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind too. I didn’t value myself enough to quit before I was let go. I wanted others approval for the service I provided and it back-fired. I was being micromanaged.
It was not easy working in an environment with those with different mental and physical disabilities. It was a burden to assist 10+ students to complete their life skill chores every morning. I did this alone most mornings.
It was degrading being evaluated by a boss who expected me to know what to do. How can I know what to do from the top of my head if something new is being added by her almost everyday?
How did it went from not having to supervise those washing the windows for example (a program manager told me this in the beginning of my job) to having to because the windows were not clean enough and I have to supervise. It seems like such a simple task to many, but everyday I had to look at those stained cracked windows, “praying” that a student would complete his job to the best of his ability so I would not get in trouble.
- “MariaMars, there was no toilet paper in the  bathrooms when you left.” Little did she knew that I took pictures of the bathrooms that DID have toilet paper before I left, I just never showed them because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going insane and actually did my job. I worked there Monday, Wednesday and Friday (3 hours a day for $9 an hour). On Monday there was toilet paper (one bathroom had 2 rolls!) on Wednesday she complained to me. On Tuesday who was in charge? Was it that person job to check to make sure before Wednesday morning?
“The floor isn’t vacuumed MariaMars.” (How can someone who’ve been at Ben’s Place for over 6+ years STILL couldn’t vacuum properly? WHO was in charge before I was hired?..also..new vacuums are needed even if the old ones are “fixed”).
- “MariaMars, there needs to be a certain product used for the student to clean the stains from the table, the directions are in the back of the Art Room.” (I didn’t know this Boss why tell me after 2-3 weeks?! and I couldn’t find the directions to make the product because the Art Room is disorganized). Oh! but thanks for organizing it to make it easier for others AFTER letting me go.
- “Alright, let’s see, the windows are not clean MariaMars.” (This student is 60+ years old, attended Ben’s Place for 10+ years and couldn’t clean the windows properly? Again who “trained”him before I came in the picture? Also, maybe it isn’t good to clean the outside windows when the sun is blazing out?..just a suggestion..)
Issues With Co-Workers
One co-worker would shout at the students to do their chores if they didn’t start immediately. This confused me because…it was my job to assist others to start and finish their chores. He was a project manager. He had bigger roles to fulfill….why dictate others to do their chores right in front of me?! What’s devastating after making a complaint to the boss, the next day there was no more “Hello, Maria!” He wouldn’t even give eye-contact. It was very uncomfortable.
Another co-worker in my opinion didn’t want me there. She and I knew it. Female co-workers are very vindictive and passive aggressive. They smile at you but deep down there is a form of unwarranted jealousy that exists within them. She probably thought I wanted the +40-year-old divorced project manager she flirts and talks to most of the time. No, I am just charming and it threatened her. I am 28 years old with no children and that threatened her. I am fairly pretty (many say I should model) and that threatened her. I wasn’t like the stereotypical black woman and that threatened her.
I read people very well and knew every bit of body language she showed towards me. It was really hard to work there because of her. She also micromanaged me too but I couldn’t mention it because she is the boss’s daughter. She also rarely eye-contacted me some days. I took it as: we’re not friends, I don’t like you, back off…and I did. I think she prevented me to work in the evenings after requesting too (because I wanted to help ease her workload/hours..) But she didn’t want me near him because he worked in the evening too.
The 3rd co-worker was the only one that didn’t give me a hard time. I could tell that the other 2 didn’t really like him but they needed him because he assists the more severely disabled. He actually had credentials and past experience to do his job. He was more expressive and passionate with his job; creative and sensitive. He was annoying but respectful.
The workplace was very disorganized and dirty. I saw roaches and ants most days. There was expired food that was sometimes served. Communication was sometimes an issue. I didn’t feel apart of the team. There was exaggerated emphasis on “assertiveness” towards the disabled I had to adopt. Favoritism was obvious. There was not enough workers who specialize working with certain disabilities and rehired those who left the job for perhaps the same issues I have. And I wasn’t trained immediately after I was hired. I WASN’T GIVEN THE SPACE TO GROW AS AN EMPLOYEE.
So why did the job almost killed me?
Situational depression from job loss.
P.S: I DON’T care about people’s ignorant opinions on depression and suicidal thoughts. The boss and co-workers never knew that I tried attempted suicide 3 times in my early 20’s, went to mental facilities over 4 times, received intensive therapy and took medication. Depression runs in my mother’s side who suffers from psychosis but that’s another blog day. THIS ISONE TRUTH ABOUT MARIAMARS:
She wanted to kill herself from job loss.
The day I was let go, I burst into tears in front of the boss from absolute confusion and stress. I couldn’t find the ingredient list needed to make a plant-based product for a student to clean the table because the back room was very disorganized. I told her this and she states “Maria, come sit down, we need to talk, Maria, now it’s time to do your job right…” I was in great fear after hearing those words. “But, I couldn’t find the list…” She gave me the look and decided to bring up the difficulties caring for my sister as if it was the reason I didn’t do a good job. The conversation went manipulative in my opinion. Suddenly, I was spewing reasons why I couldn’t work (i.e. hip dysplasia) and how hard everything was. But instead of working for a solution I was asked if I wanted to be let go and I said yes.
I didn’t want to leave the job. But I felt pushed too.
Being compared to her daughter’s past self was one red flag. She mentioned how she use “to be like me”, not assertive enough when managing others. She was quiet like me. Her daughter even use to disapprove how she treated the disabled vocally. Somehow, my qualities (i.e. silence, patience, et.) were invaluable when she told me this. She expected me to change my personality (how I interacted with others at Ben’s Place) to her fitting. I noticed that some co-workers mimicked her communication style. It’s unconscious conditioned behavior that leads to nowhere.
I cried a lot privately at work and was spied on once before and I was gossiped on. Gosspi is very contagious and negative. Actually and admit I’ve done it also. However, I learned to never complain to a co-worker about the stress I go through at work because they’ll pass it on to others with ill intentions towards me. My weaknesses are their weapons and disappointments to pick on.
After job loss I felt so much anger. I didn’t want to leave the house for days. I felt very useless, ugly and confused. I self-harmed on my legs. I held a knife towards my neck. I thought about killing myself and wishing the courage to. I had a purpose and it died. To this day, I still don’t want to purse a career as a ESE teacher because I am that terrified to work under someone who may try to get me fired. I have small panic attacks when I think of Ben’s Place & the co-workers becase they terrify me. I want to stay away from that place for good and have been for weeks. I wondered if all that kindness in the beginning was sincere? I didn’t want to believe that the people who work with the underdogs of society could be passively cruel.
I realized the job itself didn’t almost kill me, but my attachment towards it almost killed me. I measured my value and self-worth based on how others treated me there. I’ll explain more later.
(to be continued…)