I noticed him notice.
He'd glance up and check. He was looking for 'the look'. I knew instantly what he was expecting - that little smile, half sad, half pity, wholely unwelcome. He looked over at me and caught me watching. He pursed his lips, then nodded acknowledgement. We were in Walmart, I hate to admit that - I tried, I really tried, to avoid Walmart, but it's so 'just there'. Anyways, we were in Walmart when I saw him. He was shopping, I'd guess with a staff. Shopping meaning he was following behind her in her wake, she talking on the cell phone so loudly that everyone knew that she was pissed at her sister, unless he was a cross dresser who was a couple sizes larger, I'd guess the blouse she was looking at was more her taste. Don't staff know that they can be seen in public? He served as a means for her to get out and meet her needs - he was entirely disengaged with the 'outing' and throughly engaged with the regular 'outing' that he got when others noticed his, ahem, difference.
Did I do anything or say anything? Nope, not to her. Wait, you'll see.
I did pull up beside him as he stood and waited while she selected a new bra. I kid you not. Again he was glancing around, checking out to see who was noticing him, staring at him. "Come here often?" I said. He surprised me by laughing, "That's funny," he said getting it. "Do you get stared at too?" I asked a question knowing the answer. "Yeah, you too?" "Yeah." "Why do they do that," he asked. "We're different, we catch their eye." "Do you think that's it?" "Most of the time, look at that rack of clothes, there." He nodded. "OK now which do you notice? "The yellow one, it sticks out from the others." "Well, it's the same for us most of the time." "We're bright yellow, they are kind of ..." "Plain," he said and laughed. "Sometimes it's mean, sometimes it's staring, but mostly it's just noticing the yellow one, I think."
We then played a game. We guessed when people walked by who would notice and who would stare. Since we comprised a wheelchair guy and a Down Syndrome guy - 'staring' outnumbered the 'noticing' but he got the difference. Finally the staff came out of the sea of women's clothing with a bra (how wildly inappropriate is that) in her hand along with some other items. She saw the two of us together and at first glared at him, "Patrick, what have I told you about talking to ...."
She went white and looked at me hard. "You are Dave Hingsburger, right?"
She went all flustery. "I was just getting some stuff, I mean I thought since I was out, usually I don't, really I don't. Pat, tell Dave that when we go out I don't usually shop for myself, it's just that they had a sale on and I really needed some things."
Pat was smiling at the speed which she was talking at.
"Oh, God, I'm going to read about this in your blog aren't I. Oh, God."
Now Pat was laughing and so was I.
People were now staring more at her than us.
I guess red trumps yellow.
Patrick came over and asked if I'd like to meet up again when he's going out. I gave him my number and told him that I'd love to meet for tea. She was putting things in the cart, settling down a bit. But Pat wasn't done, "If she doesn't have to do any shopping, we should be able to go." She looked up, seeing she was being kidded.
"Dave Hingsburger wouldn't you just frigging know it."
"I'm going to be in your blog?"
"This week, yes."
But the cool thing is, Pat did call, we are getting together for tea next week.
At least on this outing the cups will be for him.
Ok, showing my ignorance here.
Sitting here in Australia, i am wondering how she knows you by sight. I can't find a picture of you on the blog. Does that mean the staff read one of your books (with a picture of the cover, i assume). Or has been to one of your talks? She deserves this post, especially since she's obviously had some training and should have known better. You were nice not to mention her name, nor her bra size...
Anyway, i've been reading your blog for about a year now, and suddenly i am really curious what you look like.
Heike, this happened in the town I live in, she had been to one of my trainings a few years back. I have a couple of pictures but don't know how to put them on the blog. But I've managed to change the colour of the blog (after much prompting by my friend Blog Pincess) so a picture may follow one of these days.
I marvel at the impact of CTF!
She knew she was going to be mentioned in your post! whoh! The power of writing. You're making a difference Dave! Keep up the good work.
I hope she reads this and takes the message on board! Clean your act up girl! You and Pat deserve better!
I hope you enjoy your tea with Pat!
I had a good chuckle at the punch line here. I was actually thinking "She's gonna crap if she realizes the client in her 'care' is talking to a stanger named David Hinsburger!" And then she did! Red trumps yellow, indeed! Lucky for Pat you were you and not a preditor!
Yes, it was obvious that she knew better, right? If only we all did better on all the things we know better. Maybe there is hope for her. She at least didn't try to deny or justify her actions. I do wonder if she knows how aware Pat is regarding her inapproriate behavior. Some seem to think that mentally challenged people are stupid. My daughter, who is also mentally challenged, tells me about this kind of thing all the time. She has actually asked me, "Do they think I am stupid?" I tell her they are just showing their stupidity. I think she is aware of their social disability and probably feels sorry for them. What a wonderful person she is, not because she is disabled but because she just is wonderful. What a lucky person I am! Another great post. I almost went nuts when my computer went down, mainly because I was missing your blog!
I wish you could run into some of my coworkers when they're out in the community with the people we support!
Wow! You're a celebrity! Striking fear into the hearts of slacking staff everywhere!
A *good* day to be Dave Hingsburger! I love it...
LOL! I laughed so hard at the end about the cups! You are too funny Dave!
Serves her right!
I don't think that'll happen again in her career!
Meh, people are allowed to be human, i guess and you made a new friend.
How cool is that?
Enjoy your tea!
Oh, I agree with Jodi's comment! LOL!
I only got the "cups" thing on the second read - hilARIOUS.
I think Pat will never forget this shopping spree.....yes it wasn't ok & I suspect many of us faithful readers sometimes have moments in our work/life where we're glad you aren't watching........and we need to always be mindful of what we're suppose to be doing.
I'm glad Pat will be having tea with you. It's important when we screw up that we can make ammends. I bet she pays!
I loved this story. I hate it when people think they can take advantage and 'get one over' on someone else who's more vulnerable. I hear lots of horror stories in this country about carers. They think they have the 'authority' when it's really the client that should have the authority, but it's taken away from them.
I do hope there is such a thing as carer karma, particularly big fast food shovelling. It distresses me so much that I have made a point of telling my daughter who works in aged care to take things gently, smaller and slower. The residents tell her to hurry up or they'd starve to death.I feel for that person dragged to the bra department, but he wouldn't be the only male on the planet seen dragged along shopping where he doesn't want to be.How many sad and sorry retirement cases do you see! Guess these men's blessed relief is that their wife gave up on the bra department years ago, and their own private hell is husband-in-tow in the nanna knicker aisle!Only laughing Dave. I know they have the ability to independently knick off to the hardware, and we are talking about having to be dependent, but there is humour in situations, and if I had to be caught off-guard,I'd we wanting to be seen buying the biggest sexiest bra, and not the little white why- bother.On a serious note I agree with Fol above.From p.t.
To Heike--Dave was being far too modest. There cannot be many people in the field of social services on this continent who wouldn't recognize him if they came face to face with him sitting in his chair in the bra department.
Dave, you made such a funny story out of this situation. It's a gift to hide a lesson in such a wonderful, memorable tale.
And the blog colour is WONDERFUL; so tasteful and elegant. B.P.
well done Dave, well done!
I just thought this was funny. My step-mom told me that if I always lived my life, even in private, with the very thought that she was sitting there watching me; that I wouldn't do wrong. It's true, since you never know who is watching you, act like (fill in blank here for whoever you like)___ is watching you. Like all carers should imagine Dave watching them. LOL. I bet she will from now on, well in the public eye at least.
I think that she deserves credit that she did not try and justify her actions nor blame someone else. If she reads your blog, I am sure she isn't all that bad usually. Although we shouldn't skimp on our jobs, I can see it happening on rare occaisions. But I bet that no one in Canada does THAT for a while..! LOL
Okay that's about the hardest I've laughed in awhile. Thanks! ...ahhhhhhh still laughing!
Please let us know how your tea with Pat goes!
finally!! I figured out how to post on here!
I agree, David is far too modest! Since I have been in human services his name is very well known. Bravo David! May your cup runnith over!
This is an interesting story because I got a similar situation last month when I was in that place and I saw a beautiful woman.
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