I survived the first week back, but just barely... I was swamped when I got back and I spent several extra hours at work trying to play catch up. Which is not exactly the most exciting way to come back from vacation, but whatever...
Next week is another massacre, especially at the beginning of the week. Monday is MLK, Jr. day, so it's a holiday and I don't have to work/am not allowed to work w/o prior authorization from my boss. So, that boots me to Tuesday as my first day next week and, like this last Tuesday, it's a damn disaster. I have 6 hearings in the morning and 7 in the afternoon, for a 13 hearing day. Slightly down from last Tuesday, which I suppose is an improvement. But then on Wednesday, I've got 8 hearings, all scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Well, that should certainly be interesting when I have 8 people all showing up at the same time wanting to talk to me...sigh.
So, work is back to being hellacious again. It calmed down for awhile, which was nice. It was still busy because it's never not busy. But, it was manageable busy--occasionally I was running into jams where I felt like I wasn't going to be able to get something finished, but that wasn't nearly as common. However, this last week, and my upcoming weeks, is back to being breakneck, rapid-fire, too-many-cases-on-at-the-same-time, grueling, exhausting hell. It makes me wonder why I stick around sometimes. Especially when this job is thankless, underpaid, has zero possibilities for raises because we're those scum-sucking, atrocious, awful government employees, and almost always has the threat of being laid off as a fun bonus.
Sometimes I forget why I want to be a public defender when things are so insane and so miserably overwhelming and I feel guilty for not being able to get to everyone right away. It's not like my job is full of a lot of prestige and that the general public really values what we do (unless, of course, they or someone they know end up needing us--then we're invaluable. Until then, however, we're awful). Other lawyers/legal professionals value us, if for no other reason than the fact that without us, the whole justice system would grind to a halt. And my close friends and some of my family members appreciate what I do, but outside of those people, kind of everyone else thinks we're getting criminals off and on the wrong side of things.
Basically, I'm working a thankless job for too little money. Sounds like a majority of jobs out there. Which I probably could have had without the crushing student loan debt. But, inevitably, just when I think I can't stand the job anymore and that I'm going to lost it, one of my clients will thank me, or send me a thank you card, or I'll get a resolution for someone that makes a huge difference for them, or I hear that one of the court staff thought I did a wonderful job in trial or I'll convince the prosecutor that the charges against my client are unsupported and the case gets dismissed or something will happen that will remind me that I like my job, even if other people don't like what I do.
This last week, someone gave me a reminder of why I like what I do. This person quoted a few Bible verses to me, which were as follows:
"For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." -Matthew 25: 35-36
"...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." -Matthew 25:40
Somehow, although I have heard those before like 800 times, I never really thought much about it until this person pointed out that I visit people in prison/jail and he told me that he thought what I did was wonderful. For some reason, I had never really thought about those verses applying to my work until it was pointed out to me.
Certainly gives a new perspective on that pile of paperwork that greeted me when I got back from vacation.
Plus...looks like I've got a free ticket to Heaven! Woot!!