Captain Chris Fowler
Seattle Police Department
810 Virginia Street
Seattle, WA 98101
Dear Captain Fowler:
Thank you for considering me for the available position of 9-1-1 Communications Dispatcher with your precinct that came to my attention via the City of Seattle jobs board.
Exceeding your desired qualifications, to your support staff I bring a graduate degree in art, or visual communications, with my computing technology and multitasking skills evidenced by my social media design and multimedia portfolios. I decided to emphasize my graduate research in what public agencies typically describe as “diversity” or, academically speaking, critical theories of identity, as well as trauma and the taboo after observing in my university-level foundations drawing students remarkable shifts in learning cognition, classroom engagement, and trauma recovery simultaneous with their acquisition of the tools of visual vocabulary and grammar:
The last time I type-tested for speed and accuracy, I believe my score was in the high 70s or 80s, with my best reaching 90 wpm. I offer over 20 years of customer service, with probably the switchboard experience most closely aligned to your call center description a brief stint at the teachers’ union, or Clark County Classroom Teachers’ Association, which I’ve since dropped from my cv for space considerations.
Until recently, my knowledge of our legal system was limited to sacrificing my own career to put my prosecutorial ex-husband through law school, observing mock court, providing feedback for his prepping for jury trials, and encouraging remediation and therapy over punitive judgments in his sentencing recommendations. My personal experience with psychotherapy was a welcome listener educated in human psychology who encouraged my writing and art-making, provided objective feedback about my upbringing, and made thoughtful suggestions for better understanding myself, my behavioral choices, and building healthier relationships; my recent experiences through Idaho’s mental juridical health system tells me that their Skittles School is every bit as broken as Oregon’s system, currently under federal Department of Justice investigation. My blogpost, The Boy on the Bicycle, gives you an opportunity to compare my counseling expertise grounded in my graduate readings in psychoanalytic theory combined with my university-level drawing studio teaching experiences, akin to clinical practice, against the fragile ego, frantic typing, and circular logic of a certified marriage counselor in the state of Kansas, himself a victim of childhood Prozac early clinical trials. From what I understand from conversations with my current psychologist, listening to members of Seattle’s oftentimes deeply traumatized homeless community, and observed downtown with my own eyes as a DSHS grille-windowed van dumped onto Third Avenue and Stewart two men in no condition to navigate the real world, King County social services follows more of a catch-and-release system for avoiding viable alternatives to the pharmaceutical lobby’s failed solutions for the problem of trauma.
I welcome the opportunity to interview with any number of psychologists approved by your department, provided they are better educated in human psychology than Ann Rule, may she rest in peace, but if hers is the expertise advising your predecessors, it is no wonder it took them so long to track Ted Bundy, and are able to supply prior to our meeting their curriculum vitaes, with publication credits and links to social media, as well as five years of income tax returns or annual reports revealing their fiduciary relations to the pharmaceutical industry. Provided, also, that you and they will agree in advance to not lock me up without access to competent counsel or fair trial for my ability to think critically, solve systemic problems, my writing or visual communications skills, or for attempting to report crimes by describing my educated expertise, my post-Great Recession job-seeking efforts, or genealogy, before pronouncing those facts to be “delusions” without first fact-checking those experiences against public record, contracts, email communications, audiovisual evidence, and design files. Or for any other reason. Because of course that agreement was written over two hundred years ago and signed by our founding fathers. Please do run a background check at least as thorough as the biographical evidence I supply on my blog in my open letter to one of my ex-husband’s former law professors, currently the Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University.
Kudos to the officers from your precinct who responded to my call when I recognized the deeply traumatized fellow who disrupted my morning workout midsummer would not respect my autonomy without mediation from their higher authority:
Compliments to Officers Davenport and Bennett @SeattlePD for their professional response to harassment call at Lake Union Park yesterday.
— jana brubaker (@6other) July 10, 2015
Night and day to Boise’s law enforcement or my earlier experiences with SPD’s domestic violence victim support supervisor, your officers impressed me as being genuinely committed to protecting and serving all of the members of our community, not just the wealthy mansion-owners in Madrona and Queen Anne, describing their hands-off approach for Seattle’s homeless citizens who generally sleep outside because they have found it to be safer than navigating the abuses within the shelter system, including one compassionate encounter with a young woman who sleeps in Seattle’s alleys by day, staying awake throughout the night for better hope of survival, and continued to treat me as a human being even after they learned, to their surprise, that I am homeless too. Do you credit their emotional intelligence to department-wide changes following Jenny Durkan’s investigation, the strength of your leadership and professional training, to their personal integrity, or some combination of all of the above? I shudder to think that your officers are being placed in greater harm’s way simply because no one educated in psychoanalytic and feminist theories and graphic design has bothered to visually analyze the vernacular design of the model deployed by your domestic violence victim support team, with their supervisor too busily tell-tell-telling her own unrecovered trauma monologue to be bothered to learn healthy communications.
In lieu of a post-Great Recession work history, would you please review my bullet-point list of accomplishments and evaluate me on my behaviors and my continual professional development throughout this era simultaneous with global socioeconomic collapse, a lingering decade of war, government shutdown, hiring freeze when I first moved to King County, job market age discrimination, oftentimes blatant job market sex or gender discrimination, my educated expertise across particularly challenging, cross-disciplinary fields often dismissed as “talent” or unnecessary luxury but are actually integral to psychosocial maturity and healthy communication, and my gradual awareness that all of the communications design problems that I am interested in solving are simultaneously legal problems, and consider the value that my experience and skills add to communications internal and external to your department?
Thank you for the opportunity to be of service to your department and the general public, during both emergency and non-emergency communications.
*1. In this position, you will be required to handle a high-volume of calls and make important decisions quickly and accurately. Please describe a situation in which you have had to perform the aforementioned job functions.
Seeking freedom from an abusive family followed by Idaho’s failure to investigate domestic violence, human trafficking, and evidence previously withheld from a cold case homicide investigation that I reported to suburban Boise police followed by the state’s violation of my constitutionally protected liberties, I had to quickly make life-sustaining decisions while under threat to my immediate physical safety and longer-term income-earning potential. One of those decisions led to a drug bust for a rural police department but also follow up theft of my entire oeuvre, or a decade’s worth of work including bespoke furniture that I designed and built, paintings of a technical caliber arguably on par with Gerhard Richter, a living master of 20th century painting whose work individually values in the multimillions of dollars, what some people like to dismiss as “talent,” and visually uneducated mental health professionals confused about the differences between Van Gogh and Munch might describe as evidence of “mental illness,” but what I know to be the result of visual literacy and hard work.
The resulting loss from my decisions taught me not to call the cops until after you have removed your property from the property of a victim of state-sanctioned drug abuse. Were those decisions accurate? I feel grateful to still be alive, free, and with all of my f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact. Despite my losses, I can still meet my likeness in the mirror and know that I made the right decision for the greater public good in speaking against the abuses in my family and about a broken state system causing severe multigenerational harm, decisions that I feel confident, particularly in light of the Justice Department’s recent analysis of unconstitutional law in Boise, that homelessness is not a crime, and that, if their investigators can just spend a little less time on Ashley Madison, and a little more time focusing on their jobs, their legal expertise will soon affirm my communications and psychoanalytic expertise, that homelessness or dire poverty does not de facto mean mental illness, decisions that will, from a longer term perspective, prove to be just, some might even say patriotic, made under circumstances of intense pressure.
*2. Do you have good communication skills?
*3. If you answered yes to the question above, please provide at least two (2) examples of your communication skills.
In my experience, my direct, or healthy, communication skills will be admired by other healthy communicators, and I will patiently watch while passive aggressive communicators twirl around the four points of their trauma narrative that I have identified in my healthy communications model, Unplay: deny, avoid, blame, propelled from their self-identified position as martyr, while they insist that any opinion that disagrees with their personal experience is wrong wrong wrong, all the while adding still more evidence supporting my MFA thesis research and subsequent graphic design model. I am consciously ever working on finding new tactics for resolving conflicts with passive aggressive communicators, as there can be no hard-and-fast rule to cover the nuances of each and every situation. “I hear you,” or “How do you feel about…?” or “What I hear you saying is…” are usually effective, but some people are so traumatized by child abuse, or unhealthy behavioral role models, or subsequent illicit or licit drug abuses, that to even greet them with “Hello, how are you?” will provoke rage.
After I was involuntarily committed, I quickly saw that I would have to behave better than my jailers, which was not difficult, given most of the so-called mental health “professionals” that I observed were experiencing workplace trauma or compassion fatigue or unrecovered trauma from growing up in their own abusive families, and were themselves severely passive aggressive. One example of my successful conflict negotiation, mediation, and resolution skills was design direction to competitively solve, in fewer than 20 minutes, a beginning-level design problem working with my team of involuntarily committed psych patients, while the clinician stood to one side taking notes on our behavior. Yes, indeed, what we teach in the fields of art and design is that there is no one right answer to any given problem, through a process of critique, so students learn to hear multiple perspectives, and, yes, collaborative design assignments or real world problems require teamwork, most effectively performed with healthy communication.
Within Seattle’s homeless community I am finding unlimited opportunities for practicing healthy communication skills. One recent example, at a SHARE storage locker meeting, the nonprofit’s staff asked for feedback for establishing locker rules. The only two other women attending a male-dominated meeting suggested “no sexual harassment.” Staff edited their suggestions to only “no harassment or verbal abuse” to his whiteboard notes, and the meeting progressed until I first complimented the professionalism of the meeting’s chair, where my experience with SHARE’s meetings is that Seattle’s homeless community follows Robert’s Rules of Order better than my grad school cohort at the University of Idaho, before pointing out the distinction between harassment and harassment of a specifically sexual nature, by providing an example that had occurred earlier that morning, when one of the men suggestively twirled his middle finger in my palm on the pretext of introducing himself to me by shaking my hand.
Providing yet another example of the accuracy of my model deconstructing passive aggressive communications, male staff first denied, “That’s not sexual harassment.”
Moi: “Sure it is. Instead of greeting me with a professional handshake, Gregory made an unwanted sexual advance.”
From denial, staff proceeded to avoid resolving the problem by blaming the abusive behavior on my “feelings”: “I’m sorry you felt harassed, but I already added no harassment to the rules.”
Moi: “My feelings have nothing to do with Gregory’s abusive behavior. What I am describing is an example of what sexual harassment looks like in practice.”
The room broke into a chorus of the women and most of the men agreeing with me, and I felt so proud of this community of homeless and predominantly black men, who know better than many of the men in so-called higher education, “Just don’t go there,” and “Don’t do it, man,” and “Stay away from that.”
Passive aggressive and male-privileged staff still only reluctantly added “sexual” to the no-harassment rule, and only after threatening to hold everyone to a minute of silence after the meeting by way of reprimanding me for contributing to the general discussion without first waiting for the chair’s permission to speak. I decided then was not the time to point out that most of the men had not waited for the chair’s permission to add to that discussion, staff included, which meant that what turned out to be his idle threat was gender discrimination.
After the meeting adjourned, the relatively youthful chair, who had supported the rule change to include no sexual harassment but had not fully tracked all the nuances of the discussion, followed me outside to ask, “What just happened in there?”
I replied, “Well, I think what happened was I placed a public boundary on Gregory’s sexual harassment, staff resisted checking his male privilege at the door, but all of the rest of you guys backed me up on it, so thank you.”
Of course SHARE’s ability to enforce its rules will likely prove as ineffective as U.S. federal education law, Title IX, for the same lack of emotionally intelligent leadership across our campuses nationwide (http://time.com/80297/white-house-releasing-plan-to-reduce-campus-sexual-assault/) but thanks to the overall community support, I have experienced no further harassment from Gregory.
*4. Do you have the ability to treat callers courteously and tactfully?
*5. Please provide an example from your previous work experience of a time when you had a difficult caller and you had to treat him/her courteously and tactfully.
In my position as the Executive Assistant to one of the real estate developers responsible for the buildout of the south end of the Las Vegas Valley, I often began my days with early morning Hawaiian callers irate with the slow rate of return on their investment in desert property. To make fielding those calls even more difficult, I would sometimes hear a click as my boss frequently picked up the phone from the line he installed at his house to delay his arrival to the office, but would not always choose to speak to the callers. I learned to imitate his wonderful salesmanship, listening and soothing, without making promises that I was not in a position to fulfill.
*6. For this position, you will be required to frequently use certain skills such as conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation. Please describe a situation in which you have had to perform these job functions.
Unplay provides a model for resolving, mediating, or negotiating any conflict, regardless if that conflict is in business, public, or domestic spheres.
Within my open letter to Professor McConnell I thoroughly analyze (see Unplaying the Shame and Blame Game) multiple instances of my conflict negotiation experiences with multiple generations of my abusive family, drug addicts, trauma victims, mental health patients, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. In my experience, Unplay’s success will depend on the relationship between two or more participants, and the health of the person in the more powerful position, but even as the person so often in the less powerful position, recognizing that structure has already proven immensely valuable in negotiating with passive aggressive communicators.
*7. Are you willing to work the shifts a structured 24/7 workplace requires?
*8. If you answered yes to the question above, what do you feel has prepared you to work this schedule?
Growing up in 24/7 Vegas culture, my flexibility when juggling college and grad school work/class/teaching semester schedule changes. People who knew me in earlier phases of my life would not now recognize someone who wakes before dawn and is working out by the time the sun rises, adapting to the curfew schedule of Seattle’s shelter system.