Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Drama in The Theatre

We entered the theatre. They have only two disabled seating spaces. The one on the right, the side we'd entered, had been taken. I raced across the theatre to get to the other side and managed to grab the space. When you go to see a play or the opera broadcast from afar into your local cinema, the crowd tends to be a fair bit older and the disabled seats are hotly contested. I was in place, Joe and our two friends had seats right beside me. We were in and we were staying put.

The play we were going to see was Macbeth and it was being broadcast by National Theatre Live and the showing had sold out. There was a fair bit of action around us as others tried to find seats. A bus load of seniors had arrived with a 'minder' (which is something quite different from a 'support staff') who kept treating them like an errant group of kindergarten children who constantly defied her will. The seniors simply didn't listen to, I saw one turn his hearing aid off - letting everyone know that he wasn't going to listen to her instructions about how to go to a movie with a large group of other seniors - they were a defiant bunch.

Her goal was to get them all together in the theatre, row up on row of seniors. They, however, had other plans. The got into the theatre and scattered. Sitting in pairs, sitting alone, sitting in small groups of three or four. Some sat down near the front, others in the middle near us, some in the seats lining the walkway, but one, rebel that she was, climbed the stairs to sit much further back.

I know all this because when everyone was in and scattered, the minder came forward, a few rows ahead of us and counted them all, like you see them do with groups of kiddies on an outing. I get the need to know everyone is in and none have gone missing. I do. It was the very public way that she was off to the side and pointing and counting. I know it can be done discretely because I've done it discretely. You don't need to make a show of yourself and when you do, it's usually because you want all about to know that you are a 'carer' out 'caring' and ain't that special.

The reason I know about the woman who climbed the seats to sit further back and higher up was because the 'minder' couldn't find her in the count. Eventually she spotted the woman up in the bleacher seats and said, "Oh, she's gone up the stairs, we were all supposed to stay down in these seats here."

Eventually the minder took her seat, alone, opened the big binder she was carrying and began checking through pages and making notations. This was her workplace and we would all see her work.

In all this though, I was impressed by the spunk and the spirit of the seniors, who wouldn't be told, wouldn't be corralled, wouldn't simply follow the rules set for them. They simply went about doing what they wanted to be doing and let the 'minder' adapt to them. None of them were rude while breaking the rules, but they all broke the rules.

And we all know, don't we, that some rules simply beg to be broken.


Sue Marranconi said...

Sounds like the minder had her own power trip. Sometimes defiance is there to teach us we are not in control. It can be a painful lesson. I'm glad the seniors did as they did. After all, they are still people too and we know they have rights.

Beth Gallagher said...

I love this post Dave. I think this is a perfect reminder of the non-sense that "the system' has created out of a need for structure and control. I remember being that minder many years ago as well. I am so glad that I have gratuated to a much more mindful spot. However it does beg the question, are there times that I would be embarrassed by my actions if someone was blogging about me? A re'minder' to live by!

theknapper said...

Hooray for the seniors!!!!! I know I'll be one of them one day soon...

Deb said...

It's a pity someone couldn't have told her she was making a spectacle of herself, as she clearly was unable to tell. Not as discerning as the "senior children" she was in charge of.

How demeaning, to be treated as if you are three years old when you are full of the wisdom of years and obviously still in possession of your faculties.

I'm surprised she didn't bring them in all hanging onto a rope, like the next-door nursery school does when it takes the two.three year-olds out for their pre-lunch walk.

I'll bet they are a handful on the bus though. Might be fun to sit in on one of their bus trips with that "minder". I'm sure they give her the business. :D

B. said...

Good fun, thanks.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like poor communication ahead of time - like outlining expectations. Have any of you ever been in charge of a group from a facility? Not necessarily a care home - perhaps assisted living or even just a seniors residence? It is a responsibility. Often those that are on "the bus/van" have signed up, and agreed to the "conditions" of the outing. For the safety of all, the responsible person does a head count repeatedly. Do they have to make a show of it? No. If you were a son or daughter of one of those seniors out for the event, would you not want to make sure that someone was keeping tabs? Perhaps mom still lives on her own - but gets confused on occasion. Wouldn't you want to know that she has the joy of an outing under a watchful eye? That someone was driving for her? Does it have to be so obvious? No. Yet, I am sure that each one of the "rebels" were glad for the trip. I am glad provision was made for them to go - even if their minder was a bit much.

Moose said...

There's a middle ground missing here.

Sure, she was clearly pushy and probably a bit overboard in what she did.

But, let me tell you, if one of those seniors had a memory dysfunction and didn't return on the trip? If she'd lost track of one because they'd decided they didn't want to go to the theatre after all and wandered outside? There'd be hell to pay, and it would be all over the news. "Senior Left Behind At Theatre Trip!" along with scathing commentary about how horrible we treat our seniors and how you just can't trust any place to take care of them.

That someone felt the need to turn his hearing aid off says a lot about how this person needs to learn to back off.

And, on the other hand -- I don't know if it is the same in The Magical Land of Canadia, but I have heard tales from the mouths of people who are "carers" for the disabled or for the elderly in the US who talk about employers unwilling to pay overtime unless absolutely necessary, meaning that you find some way to get your work done whenever and where-ever or risk winding up having to do it on your own time, unpaid. Which, yes, is illegal, but, even short staffed, some of these companies have no problem breaking the laws.

(I honestly don't know how widespread that really is, I just have a few people's anecdotes to go on.)

wendy said...

I aspire to be one of those seniors one day. When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple...