Since becoming vegetarian eating has become a little more difficult. I have to plan ahead in order to ensure that there is something that I can eat available. I'm fat. I don't miss meals. Ever. One of the offices that I regularly consult to has a nice little kitchen in a cubbyhole tucked just off the hallway. It's a tiny space but regularly filled with people chatting, getting coffee or using the microwave. Whenever I visit I always bring some kind of frozen entree and pop in to make lunch but also, truthfully, to socialize.
It's an interesting mix in that office kitchen. Because a day programme runs out of the office popping in means visiting with staff or people in service. Because I'm there only a couple times a year, there are always new faces - therefore new stories. Like many homes, the kitchen here really is the heart of the place.
Last visit there I popped in just before lunch - who says lunch has to be at noon, sometimes it has to be at both eleven AND one. Get real - try some diversity. Anyways, I was really looking forward to lunch because I'd bought a frozen Indian vegetarian entree that I'd picked up at a small vegetarian specialty shop. It looked great on the picture. I walked into the kitchen and there sat a woman with a disability that I'd never met before. She was a large woman wearing a nice dress and a well fitted sweater. She said hello to me in a voice that, if I closed my eyes, I could imagine on a 50's film star ... all booze and cigarettes.
I greeted her in an off hand manner and tore open the entree and then, turning the package over, I realized I couldn't read the cooking instructions because I'd left my glasses in the office they gave me to use. Now it was two doors down. That's a long walk when you're faint with hunger. So I just put it in the microwave and hit '2'. This particular model has an 'express' function such that when '2' is hit it automatically goes for two minutes. 120 seconds later the bell rang and I checked the food to find it still quite frozen so I hit '2' again. 120 seconds later the bell rang and it still wasn't quite done. '2's the way to go so I did it again.
As I stood waiting another staff came in and asked what I was making. Before I could answer the woman with the disability answered. "He's doing client cooking." I laughed as the other staff asked her what she meant. "He only knows how to push the two - they only ever teach you to push the 2." We all laughed until there were tears in our eyes.
Yeah it was funny. But what if she's right? What if we only ever teach people with disabilities one solution, one way to look at a situation, one way to be in the world. I remember assessing a gay man with a disability in a prison who could tell me about fallopian tubes but had never been taught about being gay - because the instructor wasn't comfortable with that. Hold on - that's client cooking, man. I remember meeting a guy who got in trouble because he'd been taught only one greeting skill - hand shaking - and he got in trouble because ... well, there's only one thing you shake at a urinal and that's NOT the hand of the man next to you. That's client cooking. How about the woman who upset her mother because she refused to hug her because 'hugs are only for boyfriends'. That's client cooking.
Life is complex and demands complex solutions. Teaching people to think and weigh options, to rummage through skills to find just the right one, that's the way to do it.
Push '2' sure ... but occasionally ... just occiasionally, live dangerously and maybe push 5. See what happens.