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A letter to my brother's social worker

Hi Jon,

As Peter (tells me he) told you, I found him an apartment in Bangor yesterday. His brothers expect to help move him into it tomorrow (Wednesday, April 30). I put my own name forward as the guarantor of his rent, in order to help push the application through, given his unemployment.

On that note, I would like to please ask your assistance as his social worker in helping him recognize the severity of his need for immediate employment. I realize that you might need to transfer his case to another social worker soon, given his relocation from Old Town to Bangor, in which case I invite you to share this communication with whomever shall be receiving him.

I find his attitude towards work at once very determined and rather resistant. Much as he didn’t quite understand how desperately he needed housing (and how damaging being functionally homeless, even for a little while, would have been), I found yesterday, as we visited both the Bangor Career Center and the Manpower office downtown, that he doesn’t quite understand that he’s not really in a position to be choosy about work. As of yesterday, he voiced unwillingness to consider any work beyond being a driver or a security guard -- something he has only one year of experience in, and that year happened more than 20 years ago.

He continues to insist, in particular, that he wants nothing to do with caregiving, even though that’s where (outside of a few years working in a hotel kitchen) the entire remainder of his practical work experience lies. (He doesn’t want to work in a kitchen, either.) When the career center counselor we spoke with, having heard his narrow list of preferred jobs, asked if he’d like a job starting immediately that involved pouring concrete, Peter looked horrified — but he still didn’t make the connection that his choices probably come down to (a) doing what he knows how to do, or (b) unskilled labor.

Relatedly, I’ve observed over the last month that he honestly doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a job interview and a job offer. When he had a positive interview experience with the security company, he described it to me as if he had landed the job and would begin work within a few days. I don’t mean to imply that he deceived me, here; I think that he actually believed this to be the case, and that his lack of experience in “the real world” (despite his age) led him astray.

(Here is a short background primer on Peter: even though he’s 16 years older than me, I still feel like we grew up together because he hung around the house doing nothing in particular for the larger part of his young adulthood, with our parents supporting him. I don’t recall him getting a job prior to his late 20s, and he has had only a few jobs since then — albeit one of these, working in the home for autistic adults, lasted many years.)

I lack the resources to support his new $650 rent beyond this month. It is imperative that he lands and commences at a regular job, at the very least a part-time one, in May. I need to go back home soon, and I therefore must ask the assistance of those tasked with helping him professionally to please focus on this need of his.

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