20 August 2013

Paper trails

I don't want to write about transitional housing. I have to, because I have to get this off my chest or I'll never get anything accomplished today.

Yesterday I got tagged for a drug test, one of the annoyances that comes with living here. I almost never drink and I don't touch drugs that haven't been prescribed, so random testing is just something I roll my eyes at.  Fortunately it's not something that happens often. It was only my second test here since I moved in. Anyway-- chatted briefly with the peer support specialist who evaluated my donation of freshly recycled coffee and I went back up stairs once it was done. Whatever.  I headed to work a couple of hours later.

When I got home from work, I sat downstairs in the chow hall and watched a movie while I ate supper. Then I headed up to my room, to find a letter from the same peer specialist who had done my drug test yesterday. This letter was about me not being at the mandatory house resident meeting every two weeks-- there is a meeting every other Tuesday morning at 0900, and another every other Wednesday evening at 1900. I haven't been to a meeting all summer, as a) I work Wednesday nights from 1700-0100 and b) I also work Monday nights from 1700-0100 meaning I'm asleep at 0900 on Tuesday morning.

I've mentioned this schedule to the same peer support/piss test specialist before, at least twice. So I was a little surprised to see a letter about the meetings slid under my door-- especially since I had just talked to him during the piss test twelve hours earlier.

The letter continues: "You are responsible to be aware of information put out at the meetings and it is also your opportunity to be involved in the evolution of program policy. Your lack of attendance will not be an acceptable excuse for not being aware of the happenings within the ___ program and community."

Wait, what? My lack of attendance will not be an acceptable excuse...

I'm either at work, or asleep after being at work, at both times when the meetings are held. I've mentioned this to that same peer specialist more than once this summer, and it hasn't been a problem until when? Yesterday. August 19th.

Attendance at resident meetings wasn't important enough to talk to me about before or after the drug test I took yesterday. These meetings, which again-- I haven't been to since spring semester ended in May-- suddenly took on critical importance after I'd left for work at just before 1700. There wasn't a letter when I left for work.

There's a trend going on here. Staff don't talk to me, they leave letters under my door when they know I'm not here.  Letters that establish what's called a "paper (or documentation) trail".

People start and add onto paper trails because they are covering their ass, at the very least. At most, paper trails are started as a way to eventually prove something, to offer a justification. Often, the justification involves getting rid of someone.  If you have the paper trail, it's easy. "See, look at all of this documentation. He brought this on himself by not obeying the program rules."

Funny how it is impossible for me to get information disseminated in resident meetings by any other medium, but the staff here have time to type letters and wait until I'm at work to slide them under my door.

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