I hear one phrase more than anything else when I talk about my work. It’s meant to be a sort of comfort. To utter it means that the person has tried to picture the worst moments of what I do; and in that moment is overwhelmed.
I could never do your job.
I know that I don’t have a glamorous calling. I’m not paid to visit the glossy homes of the rich and famous and pat their skins with the finest products to lengthen their already luxurious existence. Often the homes I enter are severely lacking in what we would consider necessities. The people I love to care for are those who have the least in this world. Not only in possessions and monetary gains but those who are isolated and in need of something I find is lacking everywhere – love.
I once had the genuine honour of caring for a homeless man in Kingston, Ontario. I received a call to go out to assist with a man whose condition was too rough to be given a bath by his group home.
They simply wouldn’t handle him.
When I arrived, the two male workers who escorted us and then guarded the area remarked on how small I was, in relation to the man. When we arrived at his room they wouldn’t even look at him. They covered their noses and acted as though they were in the room with a wild animal. This man, beneath the layers of grime and matted hair, was clearly broken.
His eyes were devoid of any light, and he seemed shocked to meet my eye. Just saying a simple warm greeting was enough to soften his posture. He never for a moment was aggressive, or even rude. He apologized for his appearance. He had no family, no home, and had been sleeping down by a dumpster until he was arrested for loitering by the nearby businesses.
You would think this man would be bitter at the arrest but it lead him to shelter and regular meals. He was full to the brim with gratitude that he would be safe for the winter.
Could you imagine being overwhelmed about a 4×6 foot cement room with no windows or mirrors, that locked from the outside?
The staff at this home viewed him as little more than a criminal.
After a bath, several bars of soap and cutting off his matted hair – not to mention several razors for his matted beard… This man looked completely new again. I raided the lost and found and gave him what he said were his first new pieces of clothing in a year. Even though they were a little big for him, and the socks were mismatched- he cried real tears of joy when I showed him his reflection. He hadn’t had shoes when we met, and he proudly laced his scuffed running shoes I found tucked way in the back of the bin.
That’s why I do what I do. I can’t bear the thought that there are people out there with no one to show them love or compassion. I can’t watch another human treated as less than the person they are. I need to help everyone that I see and I just can’t think of doing a job that wouldn’t give me the satisfaction I get when I manage to bring a little light into someone else’s darkness. I think to myself, you may never be able to do my job, but I couldn’t imagine not doing it.