Looking for a job (part 4)

Looking For A Job Part 4

Shortly after our son was born I was so fortunate to get a new job. I traded being an administrative assistant at $3,900 to being a case worker investigator for the local trustee. My new pay was $6,300. A raise of $2,400 per year in one day and I no longer had to drive 20 to 25 days 4 days a week. I was elated. I visited the 6th green of the golf course and left town quickly, a happy man.

I reported to work anxious to get going and to learn what my new job would be. The office I worked for was operated by the township trustee. It is a bit of an unusual arrangement for Indiana. First we have 92 counties, which is second highest number in the county. Each county then had between 1 and 10 townships. Each township has a variety of duties including caring for the poor people. In the county I worked, there were 9 different trustees, each charged with caring for the poor. This meant there were 9 different rules about who could or could not receive assistance. The office I worked at was the largest in the county so we attacked as many folks as possible and that invited issues from confusion to fraud. I was tasked with tracking down either and taking action to stop aide if I found either. When I wasn’t out tracking down fraud and abuse, I acted like a caseworker and took applications for assistance and made decisions about a level of aide that was appropriate given our offices rules.

It was the most important job I ever had, especially for a kid who grew up with a relatively well-off household and who knew of poverty but did not really understand its consequences. I used the information I gained from this experience in everything in career for the next 30 years.

My first and last cases involved babies and seeing them lacking food, medicine and essentials after being released (one might say prematurely) from the hospital. In one case the baby was released to a house that was being heated by a kitchen oven in December and in a family with two other children less than 5. Mom who had given birth 48 hours before was lying on the couch unable to move. She lacked food, diapers, care for her other children and the she was literally unable to get off the couch. Luckily I was able to get her some help, but even when I broke the rules and gave her double the assistance she had less than a week of provisions to last a full month. I left and sat down and cried for a half hour, thinking of my young son and what would happen if I was her? It was overwhelming.

Of course my time there was also punctuated by the scoundrels. A family of 5 whose mother was 15 and father was 62. Upon taking the application the caseworker was suspicious when mom could not tell them of the children’s birthdates and places. Utilizing the local welfare office it was found that mom was really the male’s daughter and they were living as man and wife, while the children were her brothers and sisters. They were found in a nearby state after fleeing our jurisdiction and he was arrested for child abuse, and endangerment.

One of my most memorable cases involved the fellow who demanded to be sent to Hawaii. We did provide bus transport to anywhere in the contiguous US, provided they agreed to never come back to seek aide from us. I could not convince the fellow that buses did not run to Hawaii. He was convinced someone had built a bridge. I took the matter to my supervisor who promptly wrote him a bus ticket to Las Angeles. She told him once in LA to depart the bus and wait in the terminal for the first bus to be announced for Hawaii. He took the detail and I have constant images of him still sitting there insisting that a bridge had been built. Actually she gave him the 800 number for the BYC traveler’s society and told him if he had an issue to call them. I was so glad I was not on the other end of that call.

I also had the case of the family who needed to get to FL. The family consisted of a mom and two sons and upon departure from the bus in FL the three committed an armed robbery of a liquor store. The Florida State Police called me wanting to know if I was part of a criminal enterprise. The trooper threatened to issue a warrant for my arrest. Luckily it was never issued or at least never processed.

Fortunately for me starting January 1 of 1980 I was blessed to get a real full time job. I made the record sum of $12,200 annually, another doubling of my pay. Still there were plenty of doubters and the offer of for my wife and son to come “home” remained intact. I stayed with this new place for over 17 years and held many positions.

Unfortunately after leaving this trustee’s job, I received a rather nasty call from the local police. They were coming to pick me up for a ‘little talk”. They said to get ready and they would be there in 15 minutes. The police car rolled into my drive way and I had no idea what I’d done, I was scared to death. My wife said if it was about something I had done that we would get an attorney, like we had money for an attorney. She had lots of faith in me.

What the police wanted to talk about was misdeeds at the trustee’s office. I did not have any knowledge of misdeeds but I spill my guts, I even told the officer about the paper clips I found a month after I had left. I offered to give them back. He declined. He had bigger fish to fry and within six months the trustee had been arrested and was convicted of stealing items, ghost employment, she hired her children who lived in KY and cashed their checks. She spent 2 years in prison as I recall and I was thought for a while she would take me down for the paper clips. I even took a box in to the new trustee to settled accounts. I only found 10 at home but I was so scared. I was not asked to testify and only interviewed once, since I didn’t know anything anyway. However my friends were required to testify and of course their families were disrupted.

So that the for part summary of my first few months after college. I ended that time with a baby, a job (thank goodness) an appreciation of poverty and information about how to care for the 6th hole of a local golf course. All things they failed to teach me in college.