Thursday, March 27, 2003

I am Big Brother II

One of the first lessons I learned when I started working the shelter almost 9 years ago was how to laugh at myself. I was in my mid twenties, looking a lot younger and working in a shelter with mostly adult men. I thought I'd have to be tough to earn people's respect. The first few times I got indignant or angry about something, after blustering on about it a bit, I was met with, at worst, outright laughter and teasing, and at best, puzzlement. I could see people looking at me thinking, "What the hell is she going on about?" My old Executive Director taught me how to take a step back and say, "I was wrong," and the people in the shelter taught me how to get past it. Really the only thing you can do when you're caught taking yourself way too seriously is join in the laughter. It was never unkind laughter because I think everyone knew my heart was in the right place even though I was a little misguided. You really don't want to hear about all the times I've had to do this in the years since then. Sometimes, indignation and anger were justified and many times, they were just me being crabby or misunderstanding or over-reacting. Humor serves many purposes in the shelter, and there is definitely a deep stream of gallows humor on streets, but I am proud to have been the source of a lot of your basic slapstick comedy.

I spent part of yesterday setting up the Internet on a few more computers in the shelter computer lab and checking the Internet browsing logs from the past week. I was irritated to find that someone had been browsing for porn and had been able to load some sites despite the filtering software. I was grumbling to myself about the abuse of privileges (see the indignation keeps rearing it's ugly head) when another staff member came by and pointed out that the surfing had been done in the late afternoon a few hours before the shelter opened. Suspicion quickly moved from shelter guests to the neighborhood kids in for afternoon basketball. I double-checked to make sure all the bad sites were blocked and went home for the night. My drive home was punctuated by many grumblings and shakings of the head. This morning, after a little checking, I realized that the culprit was a little closer to home. I had in fact been that culprit. The logs were from the afternoon I spent testing and trying to evade the filter.

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