Wednesday in Red Deer

. . . well, I’ve been in Red Deer since Sunday around 4 pm.  I like Red Deer.  It’s a pretty city.  Nestled between Calgary and Edmonton, it’s the halfway point, the center, if you will, of the province.

Why am I here, and not at work?  Because I’m attending CUPE week-long school.  CUPE week-long school is an opportunity to learn more about how Unions function and how to help the people who belong to them.  I never was a big union supporter, but now that I’m in a job that is governed by one I decided to get involved.  I’ve been involved for the past six years, taking on progressively more responsibility, until now I have attained the exalted title of President.

. . . sounds impressive, but all it really means is that I get to do way more work than anyone else.  There are benefits to it, as well, such as it looks great on a resume, and, besides,  education is never a waste.  And in CUPE there are always tons of opportunities for education.  Another nice thing about becoming involved with the Union is that it has really opened up my eyes to what workers’ rights are, and how they are so flagrantly abused much of the time.  Especially for people who are too afraid to speak up.

And let me tell you, most people fall into that category.  They just don’t want to risk losing what they consider to be a great (or at least, good) job, so they’ll put up with abuse and harassment and being made to feel that they should be bloody grateful to have a job, period.  Now, me on the other hand. . .

. . . I love a fight.  Don’t go looking for them necessarily, but if one comes along, well I won’t back away without giving it a shot.  I’m lucky in that regard, I guess, and also in that I have a spouse who makes a good living, so any job I have is a bonus.

But. . .

. . . now that I’ve said that. . .

why should I trivialize what I do in that way?  My job is every bit as important in our lives as his is.  I make a good wage, and if I was working full-time like he does, my income would be much greater, probably not much less than a 2/3’s  of what he makes.

That’s the interesting thing about work, employment, pay  — there’s this tendency to attach a value to ourselves in accordance to what we do and how much we get paid for doing it.  Considering that we’re all children of Capitalist’s and Calvinist’s for the most part, I guess it makes sense.  Or, maybe not.  I’m not really sure, just thinking as I type.

When I think of all the people I know, though, I would have to say that status and making more money is a driving force in their lives.  It is in mine, I know.  I have a perfectly wonderful job as an Education Assistant.  I work with Special Needs students in a junior high school.  I love my job, I think what I do has real meaning and real value, not just for myself and the students, but for society as well.  I am a contributing member of my community, of my province, of my country.  I am helping to ensure that kids with disabilities get the same opportunities as other kids without those roadblocks to learning do.  And that is something to be very proud of.  And yet. . .

. . . I sometimes berate myself that I’m not doing something that has a better title than Education Assistant.  Like: Teacher, or, Speech Language Pathologist, or Behaviour Therapist, or Therapy Aide, or. . .  the list could go on and on.  Then, there’s the fact that instead of even doing the job I do, I could be writing full-time.  I treat that like a fantasy, however.  Something that if only I had more money, and all my debts were paid off, and I had the money to travel, and Tim was retired, and, and, and  —  then I could be a full-time writer.

The truth is I’m not a full-time writer simply because I don’t believe in my ability to pull it off.  And, because I’m actually quite happy (most days) with my job.  I like that I can go to work and help kids learn — it’s  a neat feeling when a kid grasps a concept that they’ve been struggling forever with, or when you see the lightbulb go on in their eyes, because what you’re teaching them finally makes sense.

Anyway, I have completely digressed from my original theme which was being here in Red Deer.  I have enjoyed every day, so far, although, today was rather dull.  We’re learning about duty to accommodate in the work place.  A lot of policy language, but it’s essential to the workplace and I guess if I can take even one thing back to the job and my members then it will be worth sitting in that hard-backed chair today for 8 hours.

Well, I think that’s it for now, I’ve got to walk back to residence and get rid of my laptop and then turn around and walk back to the college for supper, then a meeting afterwards.  Sigh.  I miss home.  I miss my bed.  I miss my husband.  I miss my kid and his kids.  Friday.  I’ll be back home on Friday.