Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A social worker's life

Last week, Diruhi Mattian, a social worker was killed by a client while making a house call in North Andover. This happened in tony North Andover. Not Boston or Brockton or even Hyannis, the heroin capital of Cape Cod, where Sue currently works.

I guess it's a lot like loving a cop, and when they walk out the door in the morning you don't know if they'll be coming back through that door later that night. If that's the last time you'll see them.

Sue has had her life threatened more than once by some really scary, nasty people. She's needed police escorts. She's been hustled out side doors of court houses after testifying against some really despicable people who shouldn't be allowed to own a dog much less take care of kids, something she does almost on a weekly basis. But these people don't get it. We're talking low lifes. We're talking people who have so horribly abused themselves that they just perpetuate the horror. For them, it's just the way life is supposed to be, and don't get why their kids are in jeopardy. It was life like that for them. What was good enough for them should be good enough for their own kids. Sexual abuse. Drugs. Alcoholism. Hey, just because my family values are different from yours doesn't mean you should take my kids away. Right. Some people think there is no such thing as right and wrong. Good and bad.

The Department of Social Services, who Sue works for, won't let its social workers carry a gun, or even pepper spray. I've said to Sue to tell the department to pound sand. Let them discipline her after she saves her own life. After she stuns some crazy person with a spray to the eyes and a kick to the crotch to keep him or her immobile. What's the department going to do?--call the police after Sue calls for help on her own cell phone, which the department demands her to carry but won't pay for?

The state puts these social workers--mostly women--into some extremely dangerous situations, and God love these people, they continue to do their jobs because if you can believe it, the majority of them actually do care about the people they work with. That's one of the things that attracted to me to Sue right off: Her heart, like mine, goes for the kids every time. Because they are so defenseless. I have no patience with adults (or people in general) who ruin other people's lives because they don't have their own lives together. Enough. You have to stop the pattern. One person's life is screwed up, and it's men and women. They don't think, they don't plan. They get drunk or stoned and whoops...a child comes into the world. A child doesn't come into the world out of an act of love. It arrives through an act of selfishness. Just someone scratching an itch between their legs. The parents don't want the kid. Never did. Some do the best they can, but their hearts aren't in it. And the way things work, they have more kids. So two screwed up people begat three and four more kids who don't have a lot of chances in their world. And guess what? There's a good chance those four kids will grow up and each kid will have four of their own. So what started out as two screwed up people, ends up as twenty.

This is Sue's world. And I don't know how she does it. Like I said, she walks out that door and I'm well-aware that might be the last time I see her. So I make her a nice lunch. Make sure she knows she's getting the last anisette cookie, so she knows she's special. And make sure she gets a kiss before she's out the door. And I tell her she's pretty. And I can't wait to see her that night. And I try to have dinner for her when she comes home, and listen to her talk about her day, just so she can get it off her chest and maybe get a good night's sleep. Just so she can do it all again the next day.

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