From time to time I ask myself this question. It’s an important one for somebody in my line of work. My response will often give little clues as to where I’m at as a person, how well rested I am, and my general cheeriness.
On the way to work tonight I found myself acknowledging that yes, I do care about the people with whom I deal. I still want to make their bad days better, to give them a voice when they have been violated. And I still want to be the kind of colleague that those around me respect, or at least acknowledge as genuine and concerned about the wellbeing of others.
Why do I care? Well that’s another question, and I have to search a bit deeper. I suppose much of it is to do with the recognition that I could be one of those people on the end of the phone, a victim, a recipient of one of life’s many dud hands. This recognition should chasten anybody, and if it doesn’t then perhaps you’re due a fall. When I hear people in emotional or physical pain, or hear some awful story about child abuse I feel something deep in my bones. We’re all related, aren’t we? All share a common ancestor. These people, these unseen others come from all walks and each have a story. More than that, they have minds that think and perceive, and bodies that can hurt and recoil under duress. I regret to say there are days when I care more than others, again usually influenced by the amount of sleep I’ve pilfered or where I’m at on a personal level. Yet why should my bad day have a bearing on the way I treat another person? It really shouldn’t, and I try to remind myself always that I owe people at least a basic compassion.
The thing with my job though is that it also brings you into contact with people that drive you, for want of a better term, crazy. People with ridiculous ideas, unrealistic expectations, anger issues and deep rooted emotional immaturity. I try to allow for there foibles but some days it’s harder than others. Strangely, the people whom get under my skin the most are low level officials, councillors and the like who appear to have let what little power they have go to their head. I say head and not brain, because some of them appear not to possess the latter. I’ve enjoyed the rants of some jumped up egotistical fools during my time, and I continue to marvel at their ability to name drop and demand preferential treatment.
Aside from all that, the bottom line is yes, even on the bad days I retain a core compassion that gets me over the line. Not always easy, and I’m not always consistent, but when all is said and done I can look in the mirror and say, with absolute honesty, that I haven't lost what made me want to do this in the first place.