Beginning of the End of the Dream Job

To not lock yourself out of your therapy office: wear slacks with pockets that you can tuck your keys into when you make the long walk down the North Classroom hallway to the bathroom. Don’t leave your office unlocked. Laptops and purses have been stolen on this hallway. Put your office key, marked “Do Not Duplicate” and your Clinique Moisture Surge lipstick in your pocket.

To get to the heart of the matter:  while in session, remember OARS, open-ended questions, affirmative statements, reflection, and summary. Really listen; let the top of your head open and your belly go soft as you imagine your way into the client’s experience. A direct, probing question is a pick allowing you to feel for the combination to the safe, to open the heavy metal door and take out one leather box. Ask permission to open it together. Find names for what is seen, the colors and dimensions of this hidden treasure. Pass it back and forth, holding it with tender attention. As the session ends, gently put every seen object back where it was and spin the dial, hear the tumblers fall into place.

When you lock yourself out of your office anyway: go sit in your friend LeThi’s extra chair, behind her “Program Assistant” sign, and confess. You locked yourself out of your office again. Yes, you will bring back her master key, the one that opens every door of the clinic. You come back and suspend it by its braided purple loop above the minor keys to filing cabinets and desk drawers.

Active shooter drill: as soon as you hear shots, the safety training team tells you, lock your door. It’s a myth than an active shooter will blast a locked door with bullets to gain entry. He’ll just keep walking and kill the next person he sees. After you lock the door, they instruct, huddle under the desk with your client, away from the window. Pull your desk phone down with you, and, as quietly as you can, dial 911 and tell them what’s happening. When the drill is over, and they tell you this will be an annual training, feel nothing.

When a client no-shows: Decide against doing paper work. Snug a ten-dollar bill in your skirt pocket with your keys and ask LeThi what she wants from Starbucks. Adjust the strap on the Picolino sandals you bought the week your mother died, then step four flights down the glass-bricked stairway. Turn left past the financial aid office and the bike rack. Wait at the crosswalk and wonder where all these people in cars are going, then step into the shade under the Speer Boulevard bridge. Linger in the cool, moss-scented air as Cherry Creek meanders toward Confluence Park. When you step up into Larimer Square, squinting into the sun, think about not going back.

Jenny-Lynn Ellis lives and writes in Denver. Her essays have appeared in Pithead Chapel, Dreamer's Creative Writing,The Colorado Sun, and elsewhere. She blogs at themoreiwrite.net

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