I don't think anything can prepare you.
I think the majority of us have sat from our cushioned lives and only heard on the news or through friend's of friends about the effects of the recession. We probably routinely or robotically exclaimed "that's a shame"; some of us probably even meant it.
There will also be many of us who will have felt the effects first hand - have been made redundant once or twice or had to give up their homes; have witnessed or suffered the pains of it all.
I was in court listening in on some procedural hearings once again. Although aware of the detrimental impact the recession has had; I naively thought that I could look at the hearing as a "case file" and ignore the emotional attachments behind it. That's all fair and well in the office but step out from behind your desk and march on down to court and face the person you are extracting from their homes. Their homes that they could once, very easily, afford to pay for. As each month passes with them still unable to find other means of income; the interest builds, leaving them worse and worse off. It's like a never ending cycle of debt; each time you go around, the debt increasing.
At the office we complain of the people behind the late payments; behind the several excuses; behind the impossibilities of getting a hold of them on the phone - we sighed and huffed and puffed at their pathetic excuses; their laziness at not getting another job and their rudeness at not getting back in touch. So we threaten them with court action and we see it through - we take them to court; armed and ready to blast them for their incapabilities.
But face to face in the court in front of the Sheriff, you cannot help but feel a lump in your throat and and a tug on the heart string as you see respectable people nervously face the Sheriff with their excuses. Perfectly good excuses. Excuses like, "I was made redundant; found another job but was made redundant again"; "I have a wife and three kids, we had other stuff to pay for this month"; "I just can't afford it anymore; I can't find a job".
Once faced with the reality of what you are doing - you can't help but hate yourself at least a little bit. I don't blame the job; I don't even blame reality. I blame our mentality; mine as well and it was a solid reminder to me that there are people taking the recession perhaps a lot harder than I am. Let it be a reminder to you all as well. Be grateful for what you have.