Friday, January 27, 2012

The right things

At work this morning, I helped a woman fill out a job application. It isn't unusual for a patron to ask a question or two about an application; it is unusual to have to stand with them through the entire process.

But that's what I did.

I don't know what her specific disability is; I know that she does not have the ability to fill out job applications. "What do I put here?" She jabs her finger into the monitor and I lean in from where I am standing and I translate. "In that box, they're asking you to put how much you were paid."

It is every question on the application. She reads the words but she cannot comprehend. It's awful. It's awful and sad. How do you get a job if you can't fill out an application?

I've worked with her a few times before and it is always like this. Exhausting and awful and sad.

At work this afternoon, a door alarm was tripped. When I went to turn it off, an older woman was standing at it, cursing.

I turned off the alarm. And she tried another alarmed door and I realized that it was more than an accident. "What are you looking for?" When she spoke, I recognized her voice. I've seen her before. Her dementia seems quite acute.

I took her back to the floor. I know we needed her son - he's who brings her (and doesn't watch over her). She mistook my female coworker for her son. When I brought her back, he barely looked up from his computer screen.

After my hockey game tonight, I was leaving the rink. There was a boy - maybe 10 years old - standing in the vestibule. He offered to help me with the door. And then he asked me if I knew where the police station was.

"Just over there," I told him, pointing across the municipal complex.

I paused for a second. That second of hesitation. How involved do you get? Where do you draw the line?

I wasn't drawing a line. I was getting involved.

"Do you need to go over to the police station?"

He said that he did. That he needed to tell them something.

"Would you like me to drive you over there?" It's not a far walk, but it was dark and rainy. He said that he would.

I put my bag into my car. Thinking. Deciding. Probably not smart to put a strange child into my car, alone, even if he seems harmless.

"You know, buddy, you're not even going to fit into my car with all of this equipment. Maybe we should walk over there."

As soon as it came out of my mouth, that didn't seem like the right choice, either. It didn't seem right to be alone with the kid. It didn't seem safe for either of us.

I brought him back inside. A few teammates were still milling about.

I asked one of them to come with me. They all refused, assuming the worse. But they would stay with me and the boy, they said, while we waited for the police to come to us.

Which took suprisingly long, considering that the police station is practically in the same parking lot.

I called the police and I talked to them for a second and then I put the boy on the phone. He spoke with them for quite a while longer - I stepped away. He came back to me with my phone and he said that an officer was on his way. The boy stood at the door. My teammates didn't try talking to him or anything. Which seemed weird. Three of the four of them are mothers. But at least they waited. Even it it was for me and not for the poor child.

While we waited I took the boy over to the vending machine. In my head, I could picture him spending hours at the police station. "Let's get you a snack." I bought him Cheetos and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which he stashed into what looked like his school bag.

"Thank you, ma'am," he said. He had a quiet voice but when he spoke, he sounded sure of himself. "That's very kind of you."

Finally, the officer came and we walked out to his squad car. I gave him my information and I was essentially dismissed. "We've got it from here."

I don't even know the boy's name.

But I still hope that he's okay. I still hope that he's getting the help that he needs.


Accidentally Me said...

You did the right thing, and your karma count has risen in accordance.

You should think about buying some lottery tickets!

Kim said...

I've come back to read this several times today because it's just the nicest thing I've heard in awhile. You are a good person.

Anonymous said...

You are wonderful. One part brings tears to my eyes. You know what which part.

Mrs. Architect said...

This post made me smile. Wow, what an awesome day for you. I'm so glad that there are people like you out there for people lose those who need help.

I'm with AM, go buy some lottery tickets. :)

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