Wednesday, January 16, 2008

i'm just doin' my job here

Again, I'm going to break one of my usually unspoken blog rules by blogging about work. Ay. Despite my better judgment, I just have to put this out there.

Nearly two weeks into my new job and I finally decided to go out and do some outreach. As the 'boss' I actually have people to do this, but I'm a gotta-get-my-hands-dirty kind of manager. I don't mind doing the job myself. So I took my assistant (who knows the community better than I do) and we walked around the neighborhood. I wanted to make sure that I was getting as many people as possible to come in and get a free HIV test. After all, this is essentially my job.

I was a bit unsure of my approach. How do you go up to a perfect stranger and tell them (in Spanish), do you know your HIV status? If I were an immigrant from a country where even sex is taboo (let alone HIV) and someone approached me this way, I might just keep on walking. So I decided to use the incentive to my advantage (we give people a little something for coming in to get tested).

I walked up to a couple of guys and said, "So are you guys interested in getting (insert name of incentive here) for free?" One guy responded, "No" while his friend looked away. Gosh darn it. I sound like I'm selling something. I quickly gave the rest of my spiel and walked away embarrassed. Note to self, don't sound like a salesperson while trying to convince people to get tested for HIV.

I then decided to be boring and matter-of-fact. Apparently, this worked. Suddenly people wanted to hear what I had to say when I mentioned the incentive after the free HIV test. The informational approach was successful.

My assistant and I went our separate ways and I was on my own for a bit, approaching strangers. It got much easier the more I talked to people. And then I approached two guys outside of the convenience store. One of them was incredibly interested in what I had to say. "Blah, Blah, Blah...completely free and completely confidential..." I was saying when I was interrupted by the Interested One. He said in a tone that kinda grossed me out, "So are YOU going to be there?" I replied, "Yes, I will be." He answered, "Well, if that's the case, then I will definitely be there." I thought to myself, This is my job, this is my job. I said, "Well, don't forget to get tested" and walked away. Screw the fact that he just gave me the creeps. I need this man to get an HIV test.

The next person I approached was smiling at me from across the street. That's friendly, I thought. He came over and I told him about the free HIV tests. He responded by saying, "You are so beautiful." His breath reeked of alcohol. He then proceeded to invade my personal space. Just then my assistant showed up. He slurred to her, "Isn't she the most beautiful woman you've ever seen?" She smiled at me and said, "She is pretty." I shoved a brochure in the man's hands and said, "Don't forget to get tested!" and walked away.

At first, I was really unnerved. After all, I'm just doing my job. I prefer to do my job without getting grossed out.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my job is far more important than how a few people make me feel (as uncomfortable as that is).

And if they show up this week asking for a free HIV test, it was all worth it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...and the question to ask is: who of the people you approached is most likely to need a more immediate sexually-related health intervention?

Reaching beyond the 'worried well' is a perpetual problem, as you know, so what you're doing is fantastic. (i.e. Getting information out there to people who would generally not go to a health center, and making it more of a social norm that everyone does.)

Go Lizzie :D