The world is crazier than most people know. But I know. I was a clinical social worker for forty years. I am a witness. I retired from social work to write about the sad, the mad, and the savage; with whom I have spent most of my life. I have decided to translate these stories into fiction, because, as a co-worker once said, "You couldn't make this sh*t up. No one would believe you."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

But I'm Also a Social Worker....

In my quest to return to writing for a living, I neglect the fact that I have spent most of my adult life in the belly of the monster.

I wrote for a Boston newspaper to put myself through grad school; then when I got my degree, I actually left writing and went into social work. I will not try to ascertain why. There are some things God keeps secret from us, and it's probably for the best.

What do social workers do? They climb into a front row seat at the Theater of Doom, and reach out to help in any way they can. They talk to kids in schools, trying to get them to give a sh*t about graduating so they can be free of their crazy drug dealing families, then understand they don't want to be free of them. Family is family. It is powerful.

Sometimes I saw some of those kids later, in jail. I ran
the counseling part of the psychiatric service at the county jail in Albuquerque, and it was sad the day a new inmate remembered me and asked me to say hi to my daughter. They had been classmates at parochial school.

Social workers listen to stories most people wouldn't believe. The mother who would pull down her eleven-year old son's pants "to teach him about himself, you know?" The prostitute's kids hiding out in a motel room, waiting for mommy to get home. The schoolteacher picked up in a prostitution sweep who denied her drug habit and just said, "My husband won't work. I have a 12 year old daughter to support. What am I supposed to do?"

All my professional life, I have bitched about being a social worker. The pay, the crazies, the depressing nature of the work. But, as I get older, I think God knew what he was doing. I am a witness, to the underside of life that no one wants to talk about. And from now on, I will talk about it. Someone has to. And when you think about it, a writer is a pretty good candidate.