Repeat Customers

I have been in my position at the House long enough to have noticed trends in the calls we receive. Most of the people I assist throughout the day are older than 70, poor, and living on government assistance funds. Most live next to vacant lots, foreclosed housing, or low-income housing complexes. Many call regarding city issues like vacant lot maintenance or the removal of dead trees. Some call for assistance researching government policies or for assistance in understanding government policies. I provide whatever help I can to accomplish the goal our constituents want to accomplish. It is extremely satisfying when we can help an elderly individual find the resources they need to improve their communities and standard of living. It makes my job worth it for me.

However, it is disheartening when we receive repeating calls from constituents who seem to be unable to get a leg up on negative circumstances in their lives. One man insists that he is unable to pay for his electricity. Throughout the summer his power has been cut off multiple times when he refused to pay his bill. He has no friends or family he is willing to stay with or ask for assistance. During my first weeks in the office I spent hours on the phone speaking with various assistance groups and successfully petitioned them to give this gentleman financial aid. Since that time he has refused the help of any charity organization and has hired lawyers to protest billing by the electric company. He continues to call and ask for assistance from our office. It’s frustrating to see the progress our team made in his case refused and to see the problem persist.

I choose to focus on the positive progress we have made for many of our other constituents, instead of the setbacks we experience in rare cases. I think that as time has progressed I have gotten better at handling repeat cases and understand that in some instances, a satisfying conclusion to the interaction might not occur. I think the key is to be satisfied that our team has done our best in finding useful resources for individuals who ask for our help. Working in a political office is certainly a lot less straightforward than political theory.

One thought on “Repeat Customers

  • June 28, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Mary. Thank you for sharing. Having an internship in the public sector, especially one with constituents in need, can be simultaneously rewarding and extremely challenging. Often times we focus too heavily on setbacks without considering all of the successful outcomes. I am glad to hear that you are not letting setbacks overshadow the successes of the work. Success can often come as a result of adapting from setbacks. You closed your post with a statement about the differences between political office and political theory. This is important to think about and an opportunity for you to consider ways in which you can translate what you have learned from your internship into the classroom, and vice versa. I am looking forward to learning more. Thanks! – Jake


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