I was a bad employee.

A lifetime ago, I was in Scott County meeting with the city council and touring a local school. The council employees were also the town power players. They were the business leaders, the old money and the families whose name alone commanded respect among locals. Several East TN foundations were teaming up to help the county known for its’ severe poverty, drug, racism and crime problems. Actually, they were completely ignoring the racism, but I assumed that was just something they would approach later. My employer, a non-profit, was in turn courting those foundations to get their own funding and create a position for a new employee. We had already toured the medical clinic and seen all the details of the soon-to-be-built center for child sexual abuse victims.

bigwig #1: “We won’t treat anyone who acts as a sexual predator. They are going to be shipped out of here and stay out of here.”
me: “Child sexual predators are themselves victims.” Even as I said those words, I watched them go in one of bigwig’s ears and out the other.
bigwig #1: “We don’t want them here.”

The school tour included a running commentary of current and future plans.

bigwig #2: “We are going to start out drug testing all athletes, but our goal is to drug test ALL students.”
me: “You mean, if their behavior indicates drug use?”
bigwig #2: “No. I mean we are going to test all students and drug users are not welcome in our schools.”
me: “You can’t do that.”

At this point, bigwig #2 gave me the evil glare of death that made want to melt into a puddle and drain into the nearest vent. I anchored my feet, consciously breathed through the uncontrollable urge to tremble and stared back in my best alpha dog imitation. After what felt like forever, bigwig spun on their heels and stomped away to complain about me. I know I made bigwig mad, but I was mad too. These people didn’t care about all of the children in their community. They cared conditionally about the children they felt deserved their love. It is the children who kick and spit at you who need your love and help the most. The children born into homes without hope were not going to get help from these people. I wasn’t the least bit surprised when my supervisor told me the next day that the town council had asked that I never return to their town. They went so far as to say that I was not ALLOWED in their county. I like to imagine my picture hanging on the county limits sign. “Everyone welcome EXCEPT Cathy.” When my employer eventually got zero funding from their dealings there, I felt sad for the children born into the despair of poverty and drug abuse, raised on hate for anyone who is different. I was also relieved not to have to deal with that devil.

That’s not the only time I was a bad employee. I was once written up for going to the bathroom which is both an absurd and tragic story that I will save for another weekend.

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