It was a relief to see her. We had heard, long after the fact, that she had been in a serious car accident and had only recently returned to work. A few details filtered down the phone line, about loss of conciousness, rehab and the like. We only saw her a couple times a year when we consulted with her and her agency, and it had become like spending time with a friend.
So there we sat at dinner listening to her tell us the story of the accident. It was truly miraculous that she was here with us. She described her continuing struggle to find words - when words once came so freely to her. Her difficulty in remembering when she needed to. Her general progress back. Then she said that one of the things that truly bothered her is that she was occasionally 'treated like a client' by those who she worked with. I sure got that having had that experience in the past.
Today driving home I thought about the comment. When it was made something rankled me. Now it became clear. I understood what she meant - that being treated like a client WASN'T A GOOD THING. This is something we all really understand. Here we are service providers hoping that we are never in the position to be treated like one we serve.
Ain't that a bit scary? Shouldn't we all do our jobs so well and with such respect and care for dignity that being treated like a client would be something that we'd all anticipate rather than fear.
I made a pledge in the car on the way down - treating someone like a client, for me, will mean treating someone well - with the honour they deserve, with the tolerance and compassion I will no longer reserve for only some, with the belief that God personally lights their eyes.
It is no secret that I've always seen human services as sacred work. As a mission. That until we see the wholly-ness of a person that we will always mis-serve them.
So, this is my missionary position -- humane service for human services.