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Ripple and Blow

By Shari Crall

Ripple and Blow

I am feeling
Too much these days
Clients yell at me
Too much!
I yell at others
Too much!
Too many stones
Causing too many
Too many grasses
Too many people
To graves
To grief
To gravel.

I went back to work. After two years off, managing our local Bishop’s Storehouse, I wanted to go back. I felt I still had more in me. I got my master’s degree at 51, and felt I wasn’t done. I missed working with families. After only two weeks I wrote the poem.

Before my return, my co-workers said, “I’ll give you six months.” They said things were crazy, in ways hard to explain. But the caseloads seemed fine. I had handled double that caseload during a really bad spell. Now I understand. After two years of pandemic, political division, invasion and death, people have just had it. Our collective nerves are shot.

Even in difficult situations, I am used to connecting and having good relationships with clients. That may happen, is beginning to happen, but at least at first, everyone I talked to had HAD IT. As staff left in droves, calls went unreturned, or worse, onto an answering machine no longer manned, but with no message letting you know, or me know, as I tried to track down where missing checks had gone awry. Processes slowed, the Courts closed, adoptions halted.

One family has been waiting years to complete the adoption of their son because he was undocumented when he came into foster care and keeping volunteer lawyers and diplomats and clerks and regular office protocols and policies in place flew off the rails mid 2020 and hasn’t found its way back yet. Even with the best temperament, that is a long time to have someone coming to your house monthly and needing Court approval for any vacation plans, even if they are always approved.

When people yell at me about their cases, I try to remember they are upset about really important stuff, like what is happening with their family, while I just lost it talking to the airline customer service person about a change in my flight. I try to give grace and space. To all of us.

I often wake up with a knot in my stomach, sometimes identifiable, but most times, ambiguous. Is this happening to you? I run through work problems in my head and when none jump out, I wonder what I am anxious about today. Maybe it’s the war in Ukraine, or gas prices, or new technologies or policies or the heat.

I’m ready to sing, “Happy Days are Here Again.” Looking it up, I found it ironic it was FDR’s campaign song in 1932. I thought it came after WWII or the Depression, not at the beginning of a decade and a half slog of misery. Ugh, this could take awhile.

Photo credit: Laura Cannon McCarrey Photography on instagram @lauramccarreyphoto

About Shari Crall

Shari Crall is a native of the Chicago suburbs. She has lived her adult life in Southern California where she raised four children with her husband Chris. She recently retired from a career in social work. She holds a BA in political science from BYU and an MSW from SDSU. She spent over a decade writing a column for her local newspaper, titled The Crall Space. She has blogged for Segullah for several years and been published in LDS outlets like Exponent II, a BYU Women's Conference collection, and most recently in Living on the Inside of the Edge by author Christian Kimball.

2 thoughts on “Ripple and Blow”

  1. I think we’ve got an epidemic of anxiety going on. I’m battling it myself, despite few obvious reasons. It’s unseen and insidious. But awareness and wise action give us the upper hand. And Jesus wins the war. So let’s hang in there together

  2. It was 9:33 am yesterday when I first declared, "I hate people!" It helps, some. The declaration. Even though I don't actually hate people. I hate the situation. The fact that there is no stretch built into the system, no redundancy and that despite the fact that administrations (of various sorts) have been told for years money always wins over people. In my world, this means that a person who is bleeding (internally) at the rate of a unit of blood every three days is scheduled for the procedure to find the bleeding three weeks from now. Or for my wife, that my random church connection is the only reason one of her preschooler's families has emergency housing this week as no hotel in our state is accepting emergency vouchers and there is a waiting list of over a week for a place in the homeless shelter. And there is not a single long-term rental in our county. I see you and am with you. Every day.


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