I had written a whole post and the internet disconnected. This aircard does that a few weeks after you get it. It starts functioning differently and then it acts up in this manner. I should make sure I copy my posts before pressing any buttons.
This may be my chance to really begin homeless activism in earnest. This is the first shelter where the staff are very overt about harassing people and dont bother with mind games to seal the harassment so the person is trapped, like they would have to in other cities. I told you the homeless here are passive unless they are serverely mentally ill and I now see that is becuz everyone is afraid of the system claiming them mentally ill or the cops coming for them if they freak out in the way any normal human being would under such pressures. Here yelling in the street is not common or normal like it is back east due to some disagreement. The cops actually show up for this kind of thing and its part of keeping the large severely mentally ill in line.
However due to this any harassment from staff or authority is very lazy in nature due to them feeling there is already intimated intimidation from the system daily. Also the people here may not fight for themselves or seek revenge, they will speak up against overt rudeness or people calling other people names. Its a backwards world to me but thats the west coast.
I have posted about the noise or the card games from two staff members. However, these staff members are not totally unfair as they do tone it down alot when complaints are made and in dealing with them I have had only one incident where its the WAY the person dealt with me was off not what their actions were. And it was only once. They are smart enough to not do anything very overt as they have probably worked there for many years and know better.
The problem is with a woman named K. who works the late night to early morning for half the week.
She seemed the nicest staff at first but now thinking back I didnt like a few times when she touched me as she spoke to me...I mean it felt very gentle and soothing but she used it to gain control of a conversation we were having, to interject something. It felt like it was more a move of gaining control than true soothing of another human being. With my backround I am very vulnerable to people touching me and as now I am pretty isolated compared to my old life I am starved for touch. In other words it was manipulative and an unfair move.
I also liked her becuz she woke us up in the morning not by yelling time to get up but by coming over to me and gently pulling my blankets off my face. I thought she was really good for all the women as this city is so hard on us and we are most likely hard on ourselves anyway. Add to that the pressures of being around the severely mentally ill during the day. She was someone I admired for being very gentle and nice in the mornings to a population of tired oppressed people.
When I saw the women taking advantage of her I spoke up. When long time staff is working mornings the women will get their chores and cot stacking done ON TIME. Katelin had to chase after people and they were disrepecting her.
This is what happens when staff disrespects the population of women under their care and instead uses intimidation and mind games. It reinforces a jail mentality of corruption. They only respect the other staff's authority becuz they see them abuse their power. That is not respect that is fear. Homeless women all across the country have to play these games and fear corrupt authority constantly due to the system having no checks and balances, its also too easy to consider the person mentally ill due to a number of factors. Its an angle that corrupt authority will use to get away with thier actions and its always hanging over the homeless person's head.
After I told her that the women do what they are supposed to on other shifts and she shouldnt have to go through this she seemed to get the women under control a bit.
A few days ago however I started having problems with her. There was a switch on the wall where the fan plugs in in the bathroom. I cant breathe as well sometimes thanks to the damage to my lungs/chemical sensitivity and all the humidity from the showers and sprays/perfumes gets to me so I pay close attention to the fan as its left on or not turned on sometimes. I simply said to her that she didnt have to pull the plug out of the socket becuz behind the staff stall door (they have thier own stall- smart, huh?) there is a switch to flip off or on. Being from Boston and all those old buildings in the northeast I could tell by looking at it that one pull was going to destroy this plug. The post office is 100 years old here and to them that is foreign. There was this woman from NYC and she jsut stood there watching and we were thinking the same thing- this wiring is old school even for an old building. So K. pulls the plug out of the socket as she says that someone told her to pull it not use the switch, as she does the plug pulls out of the wall (its up above near the ceiling and you have to get up on the heater to pull it safely). She then says all frustrated "Thats not your concern anyway, Rachael". She leaves and the woman from NYC just looks at me and of course being from NY she has no problem blurting out "Thats a fire hazard!" in that accent I havent heard for years and miss terribly. (yes I have a witness if youd like to see into it a bit more).
As I walk out K. still insists that its not my concern.
I go off to get my bedding off my cot as they are almost to my cot to stack it.
Later that night staff tells me that K. wrote me up for not having my things off my bed in time for cot flips (stacking).
I tell long time staff J. the story and she agrees its ridiculous. Later on she told me that she sees nothing wrong with me telling K. about the light switch.
Other long time staff, Shy. told me that there are notes from someone in the morning saying I have trouble getting up in the morning. I assume its K. now but I would need to see the notes. This isnt really the case as K. has said something to me recently that "no exceptions can be made for you Rachael" when I am trying to get up. Its not even long after the lights go on she said that and there are instances every morning of one woman or a few women either not waking up right away or taking a bit of time to get up.
There is actually one woman, who seems to have a terrible cough but still chain smokes, who wakes up just enough to lean forward and sleep a bit probably her way of waking up.
She is usually still doing this when I get up.
Also I HAVE NEVER BEEN NOTIFIED ABOUT WARNINGS OR WRITE UPS and it was mentioned that I am supposed to be but this is not clear.
After this incident is when T.,from administration showed up in the morning. If it was to show that she wanted to help K. thats good. If it was a show of intimidation due to some baseless fear of me being vengeful or acting out that is very bad..for them becuz it makes them look even more unreasonable and guiltly. And I am not so petty. If I was none of the women here would like me, hang out with me or be nice to me. This crowd of women tend to get jerks outed pretty quickly so if I was like that I wouldnt still be staying here.
I have been avoiding K., just not interacting with her but I dont really interact in the morning as its hard for me and I want to focus on what I am supposed to be doing not socializing. But there has been no animosity..I just dont feel that incident was worth it. She really did nothing but react to perhaps feeling embarassed by pulling the plug off the wall..everyone makes mistakes and its not a big deal.
Last night when shifts changed I was in the bathroom as I had been working on that post all night long. I had signed up for a shower at 5:45 am and showers stop at 6 am. You can either shower at night or in the morn but not both, unless staff OKs it for a good reason.
I recall I went I was in the toilet and she was stacking toilet paper into the cuboard. I recall becuz I wished that she would finish and leave becuz I really had to go to the bathroom if you know what I mean. I didnt even know what time Shy. and J. got off shift. It was 11:30 pm and I thought they didnt leave until midnight..I dont know all the shift changes yet.
This morning I did my routine: Shower after getting up, go out in nightgown and pull off bedding for cot flips, put into cubby , get clothes, go back to bathroom to change. I do it this way everymorning as the number of women around me, the noise of TV, radio, and talking as well as the bright lights and the early hour would totally freak me out if I really paid attention to it. I wake up and throw on my mp3 to block it all out until I get outside and its nice and dark and quiet.
I was in the middle of my mindless routine changing into my clothes in the stall at 6:20am when I hear this voice asking "Who's in shower 1?". Its K. and she is accusing me of showering. I tell her that I am just changing as I do every morning at this time. She stumbles through what she is saying, as if its a lie that was not perfected or is failing out of nervousness. She fumbles and finally gets it straight: she claims that I showered last night as well. That she saw me coming out of the shower stall last night. I tell her that I saw her stacking tp but that was when I used the toilet not a shower.
I dont even think that she was there when I changed into my nightgown but this is the only logical explaination of what she might have seen...but she would have had to hear a shower running not just see me come out of the shower stall as we use them for changing rooms. They dont want the women changing publically in the bathroom.
She then stated"Thats why I am keeping an eye on you". She attacks me with this while I am changing myclothes at 6:20 and her rationale is keeping an eye on me due to claiming that I she saw me walking out of a shower stall last night. Walking out of a shower stall....thats it.
I then calmly approach the desk after finishing getting dressed. I asked her how its logical that I shower last night at 11:30 with staff on. She immediately says "Just walk away" like she has all the power. She then asks me "Do you want to be escorted out of here?". Everyone saw this at the table in front of the desk and thought it was ridiculous. That is when the other client told me about her doing the same thing to her and using the same threat.
I was startled by this so early in the morning and felt stress hit me. The reason I have to be so vigilant this time and perhaps get a lawyer if its bad enought is that the anaphylactic shock caused by the Bactrim is still present as a reaction to food allergies at this time but also as the doc warned me about, I cant become upset like in fight or flight mode. I started to feel my chest get tight and kept myself very calm. I do not ever want to deal with anaphylaxis ever again.
Also I did not like what Katelin gave for a rationale for her ambush at the stall: "That is why I am keeping an eye on you" due to her believing I showered twice.
First of all, I have witnesses who saw me slaving at the computer last night for hours as I was near the TV. Also how could I sneak a shower when showers end at like 9pmr so? And Shelley and Jane are on staff keeping an eye on things? Also by 11:30 pm we are supposed to be in our cots unless we have to go to the toilet.
There is no way anyone could sneak a shower in that time frame. When I left the toilet and Katelin was still stocking tp is was about 11:30 on the bathroom clock.
If one of the residents wanted to sneak a shower they would do so during nightly shower time when no one was listed in that time frame..I have seen women do it a number of times. 11:30 at night is not a wise time to try something like that, Shelly or Jane wud come in and ask you what the hell you were doing anyway.
Also other clients have had problems with this woman acting way out of turn like this. With witnesses. She even tried to exit someone and the girl is a nice kid and smart to: she told Katelin that she wasnt leaving without the police escorting her out. Katelin did not call the police and the night staff wrote it off as bs. Her threatening to call the police and not doing so shows an abuse of power or the use of it to threaten right there.
It was alleged by residents that this woman was giving a favored client rides to work and lending her money. This resident stayed there a year instead of the three months and I noted that this is the case with residents that regularly fraternize with staff. Those card games are like a doorway to some sort of initiation of acceptance and favoritism.
Another incident interests me..when there was going to be a community meeting a few weeks ago and Katelin was there the morning of, we got along well then, I groaned that I didnt want to show up that night ( it turned out to be informative and not a bitch fest at all), K. said quietly "With these women? Its going to be complaining about petty things". Right then I got a bit of insight into what she really thinks about homeless women.
It seemed like yet another person taking a job she feels is an easy paycheck where she can screw up and not be professional due to no one believing or supporting homeless people's claims.
Its almost like this place is forcing me to file a grievance. I dont want to as I dont want any trouble..but it seems to find me anyway.
There is no way I can take this kind of oppression lying down and if I am going to get phased out anyway into sleeping outside I might as well have it on paper. I just feel that documenting things is...its like the start of some whole big production that could end very badly. However since this is so overt and there are witnesses and other residents have had bad experiences I feel more confident in taking action.
It also may end in being the start of advocacy for the homeless that for once actually works.
I would need to get a lawyer if it escalates due to my condition induced by my reaction to Bactrim. The Rescue Mission has something in that basement where I find it hard to breath so I dont want to stay there and St Vincent's seems unhealthy due to all the homeless men constantly hounding women and there are druggies there.
I was told that K. is a temp but one of the other residents told me that she is hoping they will hire her full time. That is news to me and I just wonder if she is trying to establish authority for her future position.
I feel this is pretty much qualifies as harassment, especially saying she is"keeping an eye on me". Also as we left this morning she made sure she kept saying "I'll see you all tonite" repeatedly- like 'I'll be back again tonight' was the message.
This woman does NOT belong working with this population. She has a way of being very unfair and totally out of line and then hiding behind her authority. I dont see the other staff who have lasted doing that sort of thing and I dont see the other staff overtly upsetting people either. They may disregard the rules but they are also supportive of the clients and dont use threats to get their authority obeyed.
To be fair I have not written grievances and will do so. Here is thier website and they claim as part of their agency culture they are: Professional and accountable as well as Advocates for Social Justice. http://www.ccdsd.org/vision.php.
I need to give them a chance becuz I have not been harassed there and I do feel a certain safety both at the dayand night shelter that is worth salvaging. This shelter has one of the best programs I have seen for people in my situation. It gently gets you on your feet while making you feel safe and accepted in the process. It doesnt feel hard and cold like 'the system'. I feel that staff knows much of what I have been through and I get respect not harassment.
They are just experiencing some of the same problems very common in most shelters. I would feel like I failed personally and as an activist if someone that wasnt the best choice for the women stayed on there. Also a woman from CC showed up at the day center a few days ago claiming to be there as a lazon in case there was anything going on there.
My position is this. I have been through hell, my life has been destroyed and I used proper channels and it got me MORE harassed. I am done with all systems and trusting any system. If this problem could be fixed that easily it would have been by now as I am always hearing that things are toned down temporarily due to 'complaints'. I am not good at dealing with businesses to begin with and dont understand the rules of engagement. All I know how to do is target a problem in a system and correct it or destroy it. I dont deal with people, egos or insecurities well as the world has never given ME that consideration.
I am sick of playing footsie with this damn system. The non profits nation wide as well as HUD low income housing is corrupt as hell and people need to take charge of thier tax dollars or donations (not cut them) instead of villifying the homeless.