“So what do you do for a job?”
You take a long gulp of wine and avoid eye contact. A sliver of cold sweat trickles down your back as your mind scurries for an answer. Did you put an answer in that tiny ‘profession’ box on Tinder? Have you told some lies already? Were you a youth worker, administrator or worker within the Government? If you weren’t so tired you’d remember this one.
You pop your wine back on the table and smile. Under your breath you utter, “I’m a social worker’ and that my friends is when the “See Ya Later” grenade goes off.
Now, I am not saying there is a correlation between the fact that I have been a social worker for 8 years and single for 7 and a half of them, but there is a bloody coincidence. My love life is drier than the 2018 HCPC Christmas party right now, and I blame social work a little bit for that.
I have tried being honest online when telling people I am a social worker. At first I would have it in my profile, like the loud and proud graduate I was. If they asked I would tell them without shame until I noticed one of two reactions repeatedly happening.
The response to social work is either, that you are the embodiment of the Child Catcher, ready to round up children bedecked with flowery top hat and horse and cart OR that you’re Mother Teresa incarnate, never having squished an ant or sprayed a fly in your life. You are either the devil incarnate or holier than thou, and neither image is likely to get their sexual juices flowing.
If you’re lucky enough not to terminate the conversation just by telling them you’re a social worker, wait until they ask you what you’ve been up to in your day. Try finding a way to describe your routine tasks in a ‘sexy way’. You’re either sat at a desk for 8 hours writing out a report J. R. R. Tolkien would be proud of or being called useless for 5 hours. Either descriptor is likely to kill off a hot flush faster than the thought of Piers Morgan in a negligee.
Whilst they rattle off stories about cool work trips to New York, you can entertain them about that time your manager put you up in a Travel Lodge in Staines and you ate a breakfast at a table rather than from the well of your car. A highlight.
Perhaps you’ve lucked out, perhaps there are really into social justice and are part time Momentum members. They lap this stuff up like you down red wine. They are intrigued and interested and beg you to tell them more. And once you’ve hopped over the hurdle of confidentiality and been elusive enough they are certain you’re actually MI6, you face the final hurdle. Opinions.
Maybe you’re describing your day and you mention that you work with Asylum seekers, or mental health patients or substance users, and then suddenly this stubbled god like creature in front of you becomes the Neil deGrasse Tyson of the social work world. Settle down and order another drink, because this wet wipe will wax lyrical over dessert about this one time he used Ketamine at a party and is now Russell Brand levels of authority on the Recovery world. Never has a career had soo many people who have never undertaken it be such experts in it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working in the field for over a decade, they watched an episode of Dispatches once, so you better pep up and accept their critical analysis.
OK, so you’ve smashed your way through those first conversations and had a cheeky first kiss only to add them on Facebook and see something vaguely familiar. That surname that rung a few bells a couple of weeks ago is now followed by some recognisable faces.
There is a dawning dread that you may have spent Saturday night possibly snogging someone far too close to a case. Whether it’s an Uncle, Solicitor, or a teacher from the school, you’re left wondering which form you’ll have to fill out for your Manager on Monday that will A OK this. Just before you’ve deleted you’re entire life from the internet, you start rapidly searching for jobs 200 miles from your front door step. What’s the saying, don’t get your honey where you get your money, or maybe don’t set your Tinder distance settings whilst at work!
Don’t mind me I am just off to delete Tinder and retrain as a graphic designer.
Cara is a social worker and blogger. You can check out her blog at www.rainybayblog.com