Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxi)

Despite not being helped by my visit to the New York State Employment Agency in Manhattan in mid-May 1971, I finally found one ad in either the New York Times or New York Post want ad section for a job as a mental health care worker at Bronx State Hospital (which later changed its name to Bronx Psychiatric Center), the mental hospital in the Bronx, that I seemed qualified for. So after telephoning in the morning the person who was interviewing job applicants for the position, I arranged an interview appointment for the afternoon and took a bus to the mental hospital, which was about 30 minutes away from my cheap slum apartment by bus.

In the Spring of 1971, I was still able to act naturally in a much more enthusiastic, loving, personally warm and charming way in job interviews during my early 20s--before the years at having to repress my true self and mask my actual personality (in order to not get fired because of my dissident political and philosophical views) within the sexually repressive 9-to-5 office work world eventually changed my personality and decreased my ability to naturally appear enthusiastic, loving, personally warm and charming in a job interview. So following my job interview for the mental health worker position in a day patient program in late May 1971, I thought I had actually been able to get hired.

The person who interviewed me, and who would have been my immediate supervisor if I had been hired, was a friendly white woman in her early 50s who wore a dress, but still seemed on the same wavelength, philosophically, as me—in terms of how she felt mental health professionals should relate to patients in mental hospitals. Given my past experience working in the Queens General Hospital psychiatric clinic, in the special ed field and working as a volunteer in day care centers, as well as my ability to now entertain patients in a recreational setting as an amateur folk singer—and given the youthful enthusiasm and warmth I was still able to project in job interviews of this type at this stage of my life—I walked away from the interview with the impression that, when I telephoned at the end of the week, there was little possibility that the job would not be offered to me. And I would immediately be told to start work on the following Monday.

But apparently either one of my former employers bad-mouthed me or else some older job applicant with more experience doing the exact same job was interviewed between the time my interview ended and the time I telephoned the friendly white woman supervisor who had interviewed me. Because after I asked her over the telephone whether she had made a hiring decision about the position I had applied for, in a still friendly voice she informed me that another applicant had been hired.

Although I was disappointed—especially since I was getting even more desperate about how I was going to come up with my rent and food money for June and July 1971 by this time—I did not bother to question her decision. Not because I thought that I might someday apply for a job working for her at the mental hospital in the future. But because I felt that if it hadn’t been obvious to her that I was the person she should have hired originally, then it wasn’t likely that she would actually turn out to be the kind of supervisor I would find it easy to work under.