Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tough call...

I work in an organization in a federal government agency that focuses on a couple of different things, including a section of the Rehabilitation Act that deals with IT accessibility.

So even though most of the questions I deal with come from other federal colleagues, because it is in the broad area of disability, sometimes I get questions from the general public, and I do my best to try and point them in the right direction.

This morning a call was transferred to me from our front office, and it was a gentleman who had been disabled by a stroke but was recovering. He was clearly looking for help. As I started to listen to his story, I could tell right away that this man was in deep despair. I knew that I could offer him no assistance in terms of our program, but that was beside the point as he continued.

He’d lost his job and was going to lose his home to foreclosure in two weeks. He felt like he’d been tricked by a shady lawyer and so ashamed that he'd let his whole family down. He began to cry as he told me that he didn’t think he could go on anymore.

We talked (I mostly listened) for about 15 minutes and during that time I looked up the number for the toll free suicide prevention hotline, and also an organization in the city where he lived that offered free counseling for people nearing foreclosure.

I found that I was all choked up as I spoke with him. I like to think that he felt that I was empathizing with his pain and I was.

I told him that I was going to give him two numbers to call and asked him if he had something to write them down with. I remember from my years as a first aid instructor reminding students that when people are very distressed they need very concrete direction.

I asked him if he would do me a favor and promise me that the second we got off the phone he would dial the 800 number to talk to a counselor about how he was feeling like he couldn’t go on. I asked him to promise me, because a promise is a very concrete and powerful thing.

He promised me he would. After he’d talked to them , I said, then call the local number for the foreclosure counseling. I also told him that the first place he was going to call was probably going to have some even better ideas that I didn’t know about.

As we were about to hang I up I told him “God Bless”. And I meant it more than anything I’ve ever said before.

I’m so grateful that there are toll free numbers for suicide hotlines, poison control centers and rape crisis centers. I don’t think I could ever do that kind of work, but I’m grateful to all you folks out there who do.

This whole experience also just makes me livid at those who have caused the economic mess that we are in today. I'd like to see all these AIG and other Wall Street bigshots have to listen to the calls that the suicide prevention line gets all day. Maybe then they'd see what they have done. -Monica


Jenni said...

Oh, Monica, that is tough. I'm weeping for you, for this man. It is unfair.

Casey said...

I'm so glad that poor man got through to you and not somebody else. Great job handling it and finding him help, I'm sure he appreciates having someone listen.

Jenn said...

Just as you are grateful for those folks who deal with these issues day in and day out; I am grateful for you for taking the time to help in the small way that you could, Monica. Bless you!

Stimey said...

That is really rough. I hope he got some help.