I heard from three people on Monday, April 26, that I hadn’t heard from in a while. The coinkidink (coincidence) was that all three were former clients of mine from the same educational program.
None of the three knew each other or interacted at the program.
- One is a 19 year old girl who is working off and on and her G.E.D.
- The other is father and engineer from Guinea who took advanced ESOL classes.
- The other is a single-mom from Ethiopia.
Each wanted something of me:
- assistance with writing a letter to teachers about a daughter, recently arrived in this country, who has never spoken more than two words;
- help writing a cover letter for a job;
- something to do.
They wanted connection:
- the teenager attends classes sporadically and desperately needs a job but has never worked.
- the single mom is frustrated in finding a job that will use her skills and return her to the salary she made as the manager of the Boston branch of a retail store that closed;
- the father wants help for his daughter.
I provided the assistance by setting up appointments to have food and conversation with the teen and the single mom. I tried to get the single mom to use the cover letter format I’d taught her, substituting the new job requirements for the old. I wrote the letter for the father that he will copy by hand (he doesn’t have a printer and no time to come pick-it up).
Most of all, I listened. People need a listening ear, a friend who can write an effective letter, someone to send them job postings and info about opportunities for them and their children…a shoulder to lean on.
I veer between willing service and pushing people toward independence. I don’t want to become the default answer person and to create dependence yet how can I refuse to help with requests that are simple (for me).and easy to accomplish? I try not to delve deeper into the situations than the requests to avoid getting emeshed in another’s person’s life. I have learned to give the teenager distance – she won’t follow my advice but she will, eventually, come back to the realization that the G.E.D. is linked to getting work and, eventually, achieving her dreams.
This is why I often put a wall up between myself and the new people I meet, because my heart, brain, and life have only so much capacity. I feel guilty about it, especially when it makes me appear insensitive and unfriendly. Despite the wall, people do get in.
Do you struggle with this at all?
Why did these three people find me on the same day?
Is the coinkidink sending me a message?