Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Today, we went to orientation. The place that I am doing clinicals at employs over a thousand people, and I like it. I like it a lot. It is a facility that provides employment to the developmentally disabled, and its sheltered workshop takes in government contracts. The money made through the work shop is funneled back into the place, and there are group homes and adult dayhabs, and respite care. At our facility, the client can see a dentist, see a doctor, OT, PT, speech, a podiatrist in our clinics. I really love it here. I love the population. I love the focus. I really, really want to work here. It's where I want to be.

Anyways, I love that the orientation really focuses on what the organization expects from its staff. Henry came to speak, and although I heard him before, I still got the same excitement, the strong sense that I can do good in this setting. We also saw this video today.

I admit it. I am a sap. I watched this and there were tears. Not sobbing or anything like that, but I sat quietly, with a chin in my hands, and there were tears.

For the past two days, I have watched two young girls in this orientation. They giggle, and they play games and they draw pictures, and they do not pay attention. I must say that they honestly are the exception to the rule. Everyone else is focused. You can see that they are understand the importance of what we do. But these girls...oh.

Anyways, we watched these videos today, and although I was not looking around, I think that most people were similarly touched. I didn't check for tears, but I don't think that it was just me that was crying.

We broke for lunch.

When I got back, there was a box of tissues on my table. The two girls watched, eating their lunch and giggling together, throwing side long glances at me to see what I would do. I picked up the tissues and put them back where they belonged. I suppose my reaction was disappointing to them. A classmate rolled her eyes at their immaturity.

The next session began and it was on the topic of abuse. We discussed verbal abuse, physical the whole gamut. The question was put to the class: can you abuse someone without words? I raised my hand. "Yes," I said. "I think if, for instance, you made mockery of a person's tears, well, that's dismissive and cruel. Making fun of people is abuse. I also think that talking about people instead of to them is abusive."

The instructor probably did not have a clue about the kleenex, but he agreed with me that this was certainly wrong, as did the class. At the desk next to me, I saw the two girls go stiff and quiet. I think that they were afraid that they were about to get in trouble, and jobs are not easy to come by in these times.

The giggling stopped and they listened. The girl directly next to me began to take notes.

At the end of that session, we were asked if we had questions. I said, casually, "Who generally reports cases of abuse? Co-workers or clients?" The instructor said, "Co-workers report most of it. They are very intolerant. They have developed relationships with their clients, and they are very protective. If they see something that they don't like, they are on it very quickly. The attitude here seems to be 'you mess with them, you mess with us.' " He seemed proud of that.
He also commented that people who come into it with the wrong attitude do not last. They're weeded out very quickly.

I smiled and said, "That's pretty cool."


A Novel Woman said...

Pass the Kleenex, please.

I've seen a 30 second clip from this video that was used in a commercial, and I always cry when that comes on. This 10 minute video? Well, now I'm a mess.

I feel genuinely sorry for girls like the ones you describe. They are going to miss out on so much in life without compassion for others, without the ability to be inspired and moved by such a story. That's what's really sad.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I wasn't in that class because I would have been crying like a baby. Much better to do so in the privacy of my home. That is love personified. Thanks for sharing it.

Those poor girls - clueless. I LOVE how you handled that!

KarenTX said...

I am so impressed at your ability to handle situations like this so calmly and get results. You are truly meant for this career with your compassion and just plain ol' common sense! Well done!!

quid said...

Twice a month, I give orientation to people who are going to work for hospice. Hospice is a hard place to be (but I never want to work anywhere else). We all cry a lot some days.

I have had your two girls in a lot of orientations. I only wish you could attend mine and turn the tide with such dexterity.

The video made me weep.

Glad I stopped by the blog today.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I have a mental illness and a 34 year old son who is dying of a rare cancer-related blood disease (he's been sick since the age of 8). Lately, my medications have failed and I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself. Boy, did this blog and video jerk me up (and make me cry) and out of self pity! Thank you so much for sharing!

Debby said...

You're welcome anonymous. You're certainly welcome to e-mail me.

Bob said...

Great way to handle the two immature girls. I believe they had to have gotten your message. It still hurts to be laughed at.