One of my guys called in sick today so I took the opportunity to spend the middle of the day doing his job on outreach. I was partially dreading it – I have a lot of things that I need/want to get done before I head off to Toronto next week – but I was also looking forward to hanging out at this particular outreach location.
In the end, it was lovely. There were enough clients – and other people – around to keep things interesting but I didn’t end up overwhelmed. I had enough time to loiter around and chat with people in between working with clients.
Direct client work is something that falls away from me at times. A large part of that is because of the people I manage – they do a really good job, connect well with the clients, and have some experiences that I don’t. And they are, generally speaking, pretty dedicated to the cause. I like watching them grow, and change, and develop. I like watching them encourage other people in the community, both directly and indirectly. When they are doing a good job, it’s amazing. But sometimes I need to get my own hands dirty – in part to remind me how the work feels and how the clients are doing, but also just for my own soul.
Yesterday a client introduced me to someone and said, “This is Violet. She does.. everything? She runs [agency], basically.” which made me laugh. Depending on how you’re involved with our team, you might see me doing all sorts of things (I’m super important!) – or never see me at all (Violet who?). But when I think of this client, well, she has seen me in so many different areas – doing straight-up outreach, managing a project, sitting in my fancy office (well, not that fancy, but definitely nice), bossing people around at times, running a group, moving boxes.. I’m pretty much always in her peripheral vision whenever I’m not in her direct line of sight. It would totally look like I’m all over the place. And yet, like I said, there are so many people who have no idea that I exist at my agency and that’s cool.
I was thinking about that this morning as I was hauling some boxes around. It’s no wonder no one (outside of my agency) seems to know what the hell I do. One day I’m in heels and a dress and the next I’m crawling around on the floor looking for a crack pipe someone dropped. I go to a Big Important Meeting and then I gently poke at an abscess on someone’s arm to see if it hurts and then I update Facebook.
Sometimes I feel so privileged to do the work that I do – the work that I basically just fell into. This wasn’t where I planned to be. It might not be where I am forever. But for the moment, it is good to do this.