Tuesday, May 15, 2007


"Maybe you could help my wife!"

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

"Maybe you could help my kids!"

hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee

"Maybe you could help me then!"

haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw haw

Such frivolity.

Such fun.

And all because I answered the question, "What do you do for a living?"

I used to answer, truthfully, "I do sex therapy." But I stopped that when I would get serious looks - no laughter - and then get asked a question to which the answer was either, "yes it's totally normal - kinky, but within the range of normal" or "ugh, you might want to talk to someone about that." I stopped mentioning sex because I didn't want spontaneous glimpses into the lives of strangers. And besides, one day in an airport a total stranger wanted me to see a 'bump' on his penis to tell him if he should be concerned about it. I don't want to see the bump on a strangers penis in the airport. I never again said, "I do sex therapy."

So I settled with, "I work with people who have intellectual disabilities."

Then I got 'the' joke. The one that everyone thought so funny, "Maybe you can help _____ now!" Fill in the blank with 'me' 'my wife' 'my kids' 'my boss' 'my mother' any of a long line of responses.

And then there was the laughter, a kind of 'wink wink' laughter.

There seemed to be a real laugh and a half by comparing one's self, one's wife, one's kids ... to one of those 'intellectually disabled' people. The 'obvious difference' between self and other, I suppose was what they thought was so funny.

I never got the joke.

I never saw the jokester as that much superior to anyone I serve. I guess because I know that intellectual disability is only really about ability to learn. It isn't about character, it isn't about the important things that make a person valuable. So I didn't think the joke was anything but mean.

At first I feighned a modest but disapproving smile. But Joe said that that look didn't work on my face, I just look indigested.

Now I just can't take it any more.

That kind of mean humour makes me mad.

So now I just say, "I'm a social worker."

There's a conversation stopper.

Many people are afraid of social workers - that should tell you something.

I've done an average in my head that about as many people are afraid of social workers as there are people afraid of clowns.

I don't know what this means.

But it does mean that I don't get that damn joke anymore.


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Anonymous said...

previous comment ???

Anyway - I am a social worker but NEVER tell anyone that since I heard of a guy who woke up in casualty when he was asked what he did at a "friendly" darts match. A guy behind him hit him with his bar stool.

I tend to say I am a care manager -a cop out I know.

Mark Pathak said...

I have been a social worker in the UK now for 22 years and have never lied about what I do, am I am still proud of my job.

Now and again I even wear my “Kiss me I’m a Social Worker” badge I bought in the USA years ago.

It gets a laugh.

Me? Still waiting for a kiss!