It’s strange, being unemployed. I know it won’t last for long because I have been applying to a lot of places (in fact, I have an interview with an agency in a couple hours that I just finished prepping for), but it is still a strange feeling to complete a job and then suddenly have no driving project that makes you get moving on a weekday morning.

I was until recently a job coach, a form of direct support professional, for a vulnerable adult. For those of you not in the know, a vulnerable adult is a person of age who doesn’t always have the wherewithal to perceive dangerous situations or people when out in public. Frequently these individuals have developmental disabilities or other similar characterizations. In the case of my client, she is a high-functioning autistic individual (that much I can say without breaking HIPPA or FERPA regulations).

I happened to have known my client and her family since I was born, as her parents and mine have been family friends for forever. It was simply a happy coincidence that I was looking for work after moving back to Minnesota at the same time that she needed a job coach for her first paid job outside of the family.

My client had found, applied for, and got a job with Reading Corps Minnesota without the direct support she needed from her job support company at the time. She had earned the job, breezing through interviews and making it through the paperwork and registration for training, but her company had not found her a job coach that would make it possible for her to actually do the job.

Enter me, stage right.

I went through training with her, helped her through her first days in a new environment, stuck by her as she learned how to interact and teach elementary students how to read better, and aided her in reaching as much independence as possible in her work environment. I went through the entire school year with her. Last Friday was the last day of school, and the last day of my employment. Now, my client has a different, better company that have already procured a job coach to replace me (the two of them have been meeting all week, to be honest).

It was fun, I enjoyed it, but I’m also glad it’s over.

I love education, and working with (and through) my client, allowed me to experience a different side of the field that I had never experienced. I also received experience in the support field, helping her get through day-to-day minutiae and social situations that would otherwise go over her head. And, for the most part, I really enjoyed it. But I’m soooo glad it’s over.

I was getting bored and stifled in that job, always doing the same thing day after day with little chance of a change. I was in a position where I was trying to help someone comprehend a job, and complete a job, as independently as possible, knowing that I could be doing twenty times better in the job than she was. My client and I had gotten familiar enough that she wasn’t filtering her frustration around me anymore, and I was not about to let her just walk all over me when that happened.

This job gave me more stress and tension that built over time that I didn’t know about until it no longer was there. Now, for a little while at least, I’m relaxing. I’m unemployed, and enjoying the “free time.”

I’m glad I had this stage in my life. I learned a lot of things, and I made friends that I would have never met otherwise. Nevertheless, it’s over. One job done. Now, on to the next.

-Wilber

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