Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Poco Hor: Transcribed

Hi all, this is not an extra post, Tessa has transcribed Poco Hor, the first You Tube Video. This catches up all up. Thanks Tessa! Imagine, she did this without being asked to ... lovely huh?

Poco Hor

I met Philip on my very job, on my very day. I remember coming into the ward, and I was very nervous of course being new staff in an institution serving people with disabilities. Back in those days there wasn’t much in the way of community service so I took a job where I could, and the Institution wasn’t all that far from my home. I remember walking into the locked ward and feeling that I wanted to do something significant. This was my job, this was my career and it was a passion for me to work with people with disabilities.

One of the very first people I met there was a guy whose name was Philip, I remember him very very clearly because when I came through the door into the ward, Philip looking over at me and he recognized me as a new face and he called out to me. He was very very excited and he stood at the window and he called out Poco hor! Poco hor! So I went over to Philip knowing that clearly from his language that he wouldn’t have a great deal of speech, but I looked out the window at what he was pointing at and I really couldn’t identify anything that would be a Poco hor. So I looked and I looked and I looked over at him and he was so excited that I was standing there with him and he, out the window and he kept pointing and Poco hor! Poco hor! So I stood there for awhile and I didn’t understand what he was saying and I apologized that I wasn’t getting his message.

So I spoke to some of the other staff, the staff who had worked with him for a long period of time, and they told me that this was simply a habit of his. That he would stand at the window and call out Poco hor! and that had done everything they could to figure out what Poco hor! meant and they just figured it was just nonsense talk and it really didn’t mean anything. But I had trouble believing that and the reason I had trouble believing that was that Philip had clearly meant something, He said it with such enthusiasm and such a joy that there was something out there that had caught his eye.

And you know, if you actually looked out the window, it was a beautiful view because the institution was built on the side of a hill and you looked out and there was a small river that ran by and there was a very pastoral scene with cows and fields and and those sorts of things. It was indeed pretty.

So I had been to university and I had studied about data and collecting data and so forth so I determined that I was going to collect some data. That what I was going to do was every single time that he called me over and he called out Poco hor! And I would stand there and look with him, that I would look to see what was there, and then I would go to the window during periods of time that he wasn’t calling out Poco hor! And see what was not there, to see if I could determine what was there when Poco hor! was being said and what was not there when Poco hor! was not being said.

So I took my piece of paper and I went over and I think he was even more excited that I was writing things down and I stood with him and I looked out as he called Poco hor! and I could see the field, and I could see the fences, and I could see the cows and I could see the river and I could see all the things that were always there but I couldn’t see anything that was never there. So, then I would go over to the window when Philip wasn’t there and he wasn’t calling out Poco hor! and I would look at the scene again, and I would look very very closely, like you do with those puzzles to determine what is different in this picture than the picture before. And I really couldn’t see anything.

Well I continued on with this for a long period of time, collecting the data, trying to figure out what was there, and what was there on a consistent basis, and what wasn’t there and so forth. But the difficulty was that every time that I went to the window when Philip wasn’t standing there to look to see what wasn’t Poco hor-ing out there, he’d come and stand beside me and get all excited and say Poco hor! Poco hor! Well, after a period of time I spoke to the other staff and they’d all thought that I was very silly and very na├»ve being a brand new staff, and they appreciated the enthusiasm but they knew because they had determined over time that Poco hor! really didn’t mean anything.

Well, I finally gave up, and the data really didn’t show anything. And I was really disappointed because here I was, brand new, brand new into the field, brand new into the life of somebody with a disability, and I wanted to make a difference to that individual.

So I eventually told Philip that I wasn’t going to be going over to the window anymore, that I don’t think that it really meant anything and, and I stopped-- I just stopped. And I started doing what all the other staff did, because he would look at other staff and he would call out Poco hor! and they’d all say “Philip don’t be silly. There’s nothing out the window. You know that.” And I remember the first time I said to Philip, “Philip don’t be silly. There’s nothing out the window. You know that.” just like all the other staff did, and there was just a little bit of hurt on his face.

And you know, I left the institutional and I moved on into a career and all that and I forgot about Philip. And then during the period of time that the institution itself was closing, I heard that Glendale was closing, I was thinking of my memories there. And one of the very first memories I had was my memory of Philip and him standing at the window and calling out Poco hor! and and I thought it was kind of funny and I thought it was cute so and I decided that I was going to write the story of Philip and Poco hor! and how he would stand at the window and how he would call me over, and how he would trick me with his Poco hor!

And then, I sat down at this very computer where I am sitting at right now and recording this, and I started to write the story of Poco hor! and about midway though, I stopped and and I got tears in my eyes because for the first time after all these years, I understood what Poco hor! meant. Because Poco hor! wasn’t something outside the window. Poco hor! was something very different. I think what Philip was saying, when he said Poco hor!, was please come stand at the window with me. Look out, it’s a beautiful view. Please come stand at the window with me. I am feeling lonely and I want your company. Please stand at the window with me. I never understood what Poco hor! mean then. I do now. And I wish somehow, that there was a Philip in my life to apologize to.


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I am not a Spanish speaker by any stretch of the imagination but have spent some time in Mexico (not a resort) and have learned a little Spanish and poco hor sounds Spanish to me - poco is a little and hor could be hora which means hour - from what you have said maybe Phillip was asking for a little time. Just because no one knew he spoke Spanish doesn't mean he didn't. I have come across people who used ASL and others who spoke French and their support workers didn't know that is what they were doing. I guess you will never know for sure.


Anonymous said...

I find it funny that people can't leave this story alone and understand it for what it is. Both this comment and most from the original posts have tried to turn 'poco hor' into the language of 'us' rather than even imagining that maybe this man had his own language and that that language was understood in context. Like his language would be more valuable if borrowed from Spanish rather than spoken from his unique, individual, soul.

Anonymous said...

A few months back I voted Poco Hor as my most favourite post every!
It makes me cry everytime I read it!
It reminds me of the value of being in the moment....and just being!
Thanks Dave.....

Its a while since I commented but I read most Linda in Dublin ( LinMac)

Colleen said...

To the anonymous person who responded that my comment was about valuing Phillip's communication more because it might be Spanish:

You couldn't have misinterpreted my comments more!

Phillip is communicating. Dave was trying to understand. We try to understand with all the faciities we have including (but not limited to) language (which can also come from the soul).

I HAVE seen people trying to communicate with language and that language has been ignored because the support workers didn't recognize it as language or dismissed it as "gesturing". At the risk of a lengthy comment I will tell you the story of May.

I worked in a group home and May lived there. She communicated but not with English words. She "gestured". I have a background in working with people who are Deaf but I am not fluent in ASL. Shortly after beginning work with May I recognized that some of her "gestures" were signed words such as medicine, Santa, Mom. When I signed back to her she was delighted. I brought this to the attention of my supervisor and offered to start a dictionary of words that May used and to help any staff who wanted to learn some of her signs. My supervisor dismissed May's signs as gestures and told me I was not to encourage her. I argued that this is the sign for medicine not a gesture! I took it further. I got a severe reputation as a trouble maker and soon quit. No one knew when or where May learned her signs so I think she must have remembered them for a long time. Imagine trying so hard for so long to communicate and having no one respond. How devaluing is that?

So would I value Phillip's communication more if it was Spanish words - nope. I would just be jubilant that someone finally got the message!


Anonymous said...

"Please come here." It's exactly the kind of thing my son would do, first as a request and then (if you came) as an exclamation of joy.


(sorry about the "Anonymous" but I dont' feel like doing all the ID things tonight.)

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Just found poco hor story from the comments on your post a few days ago. I guess as a community of blog followers we have a corpus of our favourites amongst your blog posts. I can imagine us all selecting and sharing our fave Dave blog posts from the past with each other.