Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's Groundhog Day All Over Again

When we first moved into the group home in Arkansas, we quickly noticed that every day was pretty much the same as the last. We would have the same arguments, the same dialogue, the same problems, the same excitements, etc. We could almost script what the morning was going to be - we knew who would emerge from their room first, what they would be wearing and the first thing they would say. It got almost comical. At one point, when someone asked what our life was like, I answered that it was kind of like the movie "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray.

If you have seen the movie, then you know that he repeats the same day over and over. He tries to change things up a bit, but is largely unsuccessful at changing any outcomes. That was by far the best way to sum up our lives.

One of my favorite stories is of one lady who came out every morning, looked at me and said, "How'd you meet your husband?" I would tell her the story, then she would look at Lowell and say, "How'd you meet your wife?" This went on daily. Several days into it, I started adding details here and there that were really pretty insignificant, but just trying to make it more fun. (It is a rather boring story...)

One day, I had tired of telling the story over and over, so I said, "Well, I was working at the zoo, and I was feeding the monkeys..." I proceeded to go into a long drawn out completely fictional story about how I met Lowell. She smiled and returned to her room. The next morning, she walked out of her room, looked at me and said, "You was feedin' them monkeys." She laughed hysterically and never again asked how we met. Seven years later, you could ask her how we met and she would laugh and say, "She was feedin' the monkeys!" I guess she was just waiting for a more interesting story and she liked that one.

When we left the group home, we thought life would change. And it did. Lowell likes to say that we went straight from "Groundhog Day", to "Groundhog Day on Steroids."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday today to my nephew Benjamin! Sorry I am such a terrible aunt and didn't get the card out, but wanted to give you a shout out on the blog. Love you much!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pet Therapy???

Last night we had a lady come over with her dog Sallie. They volunteer to come over once a month to have a therapeutic visit at our home. I'm pretty sure I don't even need to say more. But I will.

Apparently, past visits have not gone over too well with one of our guys in particular. He likes seeing dogs, just not up close. We have been preparing him for the last several weeks that Sallie the dog is coming. We even went out and bought a calendar and put a sticker of a dog on the 24th so that we could talk about it and remember how excited we are that Sallie the dog is coming for a visit.

When the doorbell rang, he jumped up, welcomed them in, and grabbed Sallie's leash to "hold her." We were all impressed that this visit was going so well. But all good things must come to an end. This lasted about five minutes. Like a brother, the other roommate knows exactly which buttons to push to cause a complete and total breakdown.

To set the scene, you need to know that hot dogs are a favorite meal in our house. And I mean just that. Eight hot dogs, no bun, no side items. (We TRY!!!!! I promise we put fruit out and make vegetables, and we hide half the hot dogs, but he knows, and he finds them...) Oh, that we could just eat hot dogs every night. Life would be so very happy.

Since we have had such a good couple of weeks, and we were so excited that Sallie the dog was coming, we decided it would be a hot dog night. Happy doesn't begin to describe the mood. So the hot dogs are boiling, Sallie the dog is visiting and all is right with the world, until... the antagonist upstairs says, "Hey, how about giving Sallie some hot dogs?" The reaction to this statement was very similar to taking a pacifier from a baby. Or a paycheck from an adult. It was bad. And that's when all the happiness in the house went out the door.

He actually held it together better than he has in the past. However, I think Sallie did have some flashbacks to her days when she was an abused puppy (not that he laid a hand on her, cause God forbid he actually touch the dog - we were witnessing a miracle when he held the leash). It didn't take long for Sallie and her owner to clue in that it might not be best to hang out any longer.

Sallie will be back next month. I guess we need to start preparing for that. And we'll be sure that hot dogs are not on the menu.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Maybe "shortcuts" aren't the best idea

One of the guys with whom we live is very particular about the roads we take and the direction we go when we are out in town. He knows we aren't from around here and is constantly taking us on "shortcuts." These shortcuts have been most interesting.

On the way to the movie, we took a back street and then turned into the JCPenney parking lot. Mind you, we could see the theatre, but he really wanted to show us how to avoid all of the traffic signals. I guess he doesn't mind speed bumps, cars going 5 miles per hour, and shoppers crossing (we explained that they truly do have the right of way and we have to stop.) This particular shortcut irritated me greatly, as we were late already and now we were circling the parking lot instead of staying on a main road.

On another occasion, we drove through an apartment complex's parking lot. It was very similar to the JCPenney experience. He tried to get Lowell to drive through an empty dirt lot once, but Joshua put his foot down about that.

But my favorite of these events is when Lowell took him to play basketball at the community building downtown. As they were leaving, Mr. GPS told Lowell the easy way to get out of the area was to pull around back and turn right. Having only lived in Lawrence two weeks, Lowell did it. It only took seconds for him to notice the blue lights come on right behind him. As Lowell pulled over and visited with the officer, he explained that he was new in town and didn't know his way around very well yet, and was very sorry that he was going the wrong way on the One Way street. Luckily, the officer was accommodating, maybe because he had had past personal experience with our version of Mapquest, and he understood the challenges Lowell was up against.

We have learned that pre-teaching is important. Not just about where we are going, but also exactly how we are going to get there. We will drive through an occasional parking lot, but we are pretty adamant about not breaking any laws. We will acknowledge that, generally speaking, there is more that one way to do something, unless you are on a One Way street.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Power of a Shower

Working in this field with developmentally disabled individuals, one thing we have seen over and over is a strong dislike for showers. This is not true for all, as we did have a few in the old group home who loved showers. Then we had those, not unlike Joshua, who hated them until they were in one and then wouldn't get out until the hot water ran out. But for the most part, the individuals with whom we work would never shower if the choice were completely left up to them. The two guys we work with now fall into that category.

There are certain tricks to getting these guys in the shower. One guy will shower with a little bribery - oops, I mean intermittent praise and rewards for doing what is asked. The other will shower when he is getting to go somewhere that he wants to go.

So this morning, we are all trying our best to get some showers going. And, we are being very unsuccessful. Lowell goes upstairs to try to convince Camelot to shower, but he immediately comes back down and says, "There's no way I would shower in that bathroom either." So that it doesn't look like we have completely neglected the cleanliness of the upstairs, I need to say that this bathroom was nowhere near this state just last week. He has been living on his own upstairs for the past month and is relatively independent. He assured us on Friday that he had cleaned it, we glanced at it, and it wasn't too bad. This mess happened fast!!!! Even though we both knew better, Lowell convinced me to go upstairs with him, just to have an extra eye witness in case someone died while cleaning. Nasty doesn't even begin to describe the sight I saw, and I won't begin to go into it in case anyone reading has a gag reflex like mine. This was definitely a job for Lowell.

He went back over to our side of the house and re-emerged a few minutes later ready for combat. He had on his gloves, his old clothes, and his Vicks® VapoRub® ointment. He walks by and the scent immediately takes me back to the days when I was too sick to go to school and stayed with grandma. Vicks website proudly proclaims that the VapoRub is the #1-selling product for ages 2 and up in the cold category. What they don't tell you is that it also will keep you from gagging if you are cleaning a disgusting bathroom, or any other smelly job. Just slather a little from the tip of your nose to the top of your lip and it works miracles.

I did worry a little about what would happen if Lowell died in there. I sure wasn't going to go in for him. I thought about tying a rope to his ankles like the ancient priests did before they went into the Holy Place so I could just pull him out in case something did happen. In the end, we decided against that and he just went for it. About two hours later, he emerged victorious.

And unlike the other two men in the house, he didn't give me any trouble at all about taking a shower. As a matter of fact, I didn't even have to ask.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Stimulating the Economy in Lawrence

I am so excited today because my mom is coming for a visit today. She was supposed to help me move, but plans changed when my grandfather had to have surgery the day after our move. Praise God, he is finally well enough to stay alone, so mom gets to come.

When we first began planning our move to Lawrence, my husband got on the internet to make sure there was a TJ Maxx close by. He knew that would soften the blow for my mom when we told her we were moving 7 hours away. And it did somewhat. We could very literally walk to the local TJ Maxx. But I haven't gone yet. I wanted to save that experience for when mom came, with her checkbook. We'll hit it tomorrow (or quite possibly even tonight!) Her best friend offered to ride up here with her so she wouldn't have to drive alone, but we suspect the real reason is to check out the shopping scene. (And J - you know that you are welcome to come ANY time, with or without my mother. I would be just as happy to go shopping with you!)

Anyway, we are hoping that the action around the house this weekend is low key, so we can get out and hit the town.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

We had a good morning!!! And this does happen occasionally. A little more often here lately, but we are still walking on eggshells waiting for the next bomb to drop. So let me say what it's like when it's good.

Today we woke up happy and went for a ride. Lowell was invited along and he even was chosen to drive. And the ride was mostly without incident. I did drive the second half of the trip as there was a bit of tension building in the air.

As I am driving, I look over to see a big smile and I hear, "How am I doing lady? You prouda me?" When I tell him that he is doing so good and I am so proud of him, the next line is, "I'ma buy you some flowers. I'ma buy you a diamond ring." I hear this line a minimum of five times a day (even when things are bad, we still have our diamond ring moments). Lowell says that Jesus is waiting with a big ole diamond for my crown when I get to heaven and it's going to have this guy's name on it. That would be nice, as I am fairly certain there will be no diamond rings bought for me here. I am also fairly certain there will be no flowers. We did find some flowers at the Dollar Tree, and he bought them; but then he decided he would rather keep them than give them away. So no diamonds, no flowers, and that's okay with me.

Things are a little different for my mom back home. On the day before Valentine's Day, she calls and tells me she just got 72 roses and a marriage proposal. My immediate thought is not, "Congratulations;" it's, "what on earth does an arrangement with 72 roses even look like?"

After a long day of waiting, I finally got a picture. It is pretty incredible. Not that I wouldn't absolutely kill my husband if he paid that much for flowers, but hey, when it's not my money, go for it. So, back at home, my mom is engaged, my dad is engaged (he sends flowers to his fiancee all the time, for no reason) and the floral shops are staying busy. And here I am in Kansas getting empty promises from the guy next door. But that's okay, because even without the diamonds and roses, I am living a pretty full life with a husband who loves me and the greatest kid in the world. And truly, every day is a new adventure.

But just in case you are wondering, this is what 72 roses looks like:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Life as a Family

Lowell and I attended a training yesterday called "Life as a Family." The idea is for us as family teachers to visit with other family teachers about our experiences thus far in the family teaching model and collaborate on how we can merge our family with the people we serve, while at the same time maintaining our own nuclear family as a priority.

The whole training got me thinking a lot about what family is, and what it is not. I actually looked up the word "family" in the dictionary and found several definitions - family, extended family, blended family, etc. and after scrolling through them all, I found two that seemed to sum up what we have here - 1) a group of individuals living under one roof, and 2) a unit of a crime syndicate. We technically all live under one roof, and the police know our home well.

Other than that, I think we may have a ways to go before we can fit the definition of family that most people have. Of course, that is our vision, but we cannot ignore the obvious stumbling blocks. Here are the top three we jotted down in the course of our training day:

1. We cannot have a family style meal. Not that we haven't tried, and not that it wouldn't be nice someday, but here is an example of what happens when we try. A few nights ago, one of the guys and I were whipping up some Hamburger Helper. The other guy, who considers himself the resident chef, came in while the food was simmering and we were kicking back with Andy Griffith. When we returned to the kitchen, Emeril was adding his own ingredients to the pot on the stove. The guy originally helping me cook looks at the food, screams "Oh nasty, I'm gonna throw up!" and then asks for some oatmeal. After I looked at the food, I couldn't disagree and oatmeal it was. Another hindrance to meals together as a family is the fact that we only have two chairs and there are five of us. And often, these two chairs are stored in the garage to keep them from being thrown across the room.

2. We cannot ride in the van together. We do have a large van but you will never see all of us in it together. Everybody wants to ride shotgun. Tempers flare when everybody can't. It's much easier to make separate trips. Lowell is a little gunshy driving with Mr. "I like to tear off the rearview mirror and jump into the street" and since he does do better with me and he often gets edgy when Lowell rides along, I usually take him to get his pop or to drive around. However, if we think by the look in his eye that we might be getting ready to have an incident, Lowell comes along and hides in the back of the van. It makes both me and him feel a tad more secure just to know we aren't alone if something happens. The lady teaching our class said it was a great idea, not to feel like we need to hide the fact that he is hiding. We responded that we are just waiting for the day that someone sees him hiding and calls the police. That'll be a fun one!

3. Sometimes just seeing each other causes problems. Mr. Pop Guy has a difficult time being in the same room as the chef. One day, our chef was making sausage gravy and biscuits. At least that's what he said it was. The biscuits looked like huge sugar cookies and the gravy looked more like mashed potatoes - really chunky mashed potatoes. Breakfast is just about ready when it starts getting thrown around the kitchen. I bet he picked up the skillet of gravy five times and tossed it. The truly amazing thing was how much gravy stayed in the skillet. It was rather thick. However, a whole lot of it was covering the kitchen. There was gravy on the walls, on the doors, and all over the ceiling. The table was overturned, the tv was down, and the yelling was intense. Joshua and I hustled back over to our side of the house and watched from the half door. At one point, a bunch of bananas were thrown at us. Joshua cracked me up as he bent over, picked one up, peeled it and started eating as he watched the action on the other side of the door continue.

As we were scraping gravy off of the ceiling later, we laughed about the fact that this was not even one of the top ten strangest things we had done in this job.

There were more but those topped the list. That being said, we do feel like we are making some progress in the relationship-building aspect of this job. We are getting to know these two and they are getting more comfortable with us. However, today we did meet the lady who will be moving in to the spare room in a couple of weeks. I can tell you right now it's going to rock our world once more. But, rest assured, I will have plenty of material to blog about.

Friday, February 13, 2009

How to Choose a Church

We loved the church we attended in Benton and have made finding a new church home a priority since moving to Lawrence. The first Sunday we were here, we went to a small Bible church where the pastor chuckled when we told him where we were members in Arkansas. He informed us that we wouldn't be finding a church like that anywhere around here, but that he hoped that someday down the line, his church could grow into one similar.

We liked the church, but it was really small and we worried about Joshua needing a good youth group and peer activities.

The next Sunday, we visited a much larger evangelical Presbyterian church. We really liked it, but it was almost too big. Feeling a little like Goldilocks with the too big, too small business, we decided to just try both churches for a while to see which one is going to be the best fit for our entire family.

Last Sunday on the way home from church, Lowell and I were discussing pros and cons of each and what we liked and didn't like. The conversation is going along with.. I like the teaching better here, and the worship better there. I like the size there, but the activities offered here. I like the friendliness here, but think we might fit in better there, etc. etc. So Joshua pops in and says, "Well I like that 'Praise God from whom all blessings flow' song that we sing at the Presbyterian church, and honestly I think it's all gonna come down to that."

We went later that evening to a meet and greet dessert function at the Presbyterian church. We visited with the pastor a while and told him about Joshua thoughts. He admitted that he'd never gotten a member based solely on the Doxology, but he said if that's what it takes, he'll be sure that's in the worship schedule for at least the next few weeks!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today I felt grounded

I remember being grounded when I was a child (even though it was a rare thing since I was so well-behaved, as I'm sure my parents would attest to.)

Well, today brought those memories rushing back. If you have read the previous post, then you know the tv is no more. ILO is still top of the line in my book though. As many times as that thing was thrown on the floor, it literally took cracking the back open and pulling the cable out for it to no longer function. When the morning schedule consists of "All in the Family", "Sanford and Son", "The Jeffersons", and "Good Times" (ain't we lucky we got 'em) and then all of a sudden the morning schedule is, well, nothing, it's hard on all of us.

I suggested we cook a big breakfast, which would mean lots of time in the kitchen. He chose microwavable sausage biscuits, which take a whole 30 seconds to cook. I suggested cleaning his room. He insisted it was clean. I suggested taking a shower. He informed me in no uncertain terms that a shower was not in the plans. Oh how I longed for Fred Sanford!!! (And that's certainly a phrase I never thought I would say...)

So not only are we all bored to tears, we are also walking on eggshells waiting for a blow-up since there is nothing he wants to do. Finally it was time for him to go to work. Noon is a happy time around here.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for natural consequences. However, after today, I am also all for rushing out tomorrow and purchasing a new television.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Deadly Hamburger

We have rocked along for almost a week now with no major problems. Minor yes, but those can be dealt with. Status quo changed this morning. Mood was a little up and down, but not too bad until he went to get a glass of water (or maybe I should say a plastic cup of water, because as you can probably guess, we try not to have anything glass in the house). All of a sudden, everything in the kitchen starts flying. I immediately call my supervisor for backup help while Ms. Cornstarch tried to calm him down.

We tried every distraction possible, but couldn't persuade him to do anything but continue to curse at us and throw things. Luckily, his aim is terrible. He flipped over the kitchen table and pulled down the curtains (which are velcroed to the wall - how ingenious is that for a house like ours??) Of course the tv went down. But this time, he didn't stop there. He ripped the cable out of the television and it stripped down to the wire. Along with the cable came the little piece that the cable attaches to, so it looks like a new television is in our future. Next came the microwave. We no longer have a handle. I'm not sure what that means for the microwave, but I am thinking it means we'll be getting a new one. (If you need new stuff, just let me know and I'll send him over. All you have to do to set him off is ask politely if he would like to change his jeans...)

Well then things got crazy. The other stuff had been fairly par for the course, but then he goes into the kitchen and emptying drawers of silverware and other utensils. Next he opens the freezer and pulls out a five pound frozen hamburger log. And he chases us around acting like he is going to throw it at us. Even at the time, we were laughing at the idea of that obituary - killed when hit in the head with frozen hamburger.

One thing we did notice today is that he did not even attempt to run upstairs to Camelot. Maybe we should all arm ourselves with plastic swords...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's Getting Weirder All The Time!

We have a lady who comes in to work with us Monday through Friday. She can sometimes have an edge about her, but we really like her and completely appreciate the work she does and the relationships she has with the guys. Now that I have said nice things about her, I must say she has the strangest habit of anyone I've ever known.

The other day, I walk in to the persons served side of the home, and I see her sitting on the couch with a box of corn starch in her hand. She is watching television and I sit down with her. During a commercial, I glance over and see that she has this box of starch open, there is a straw stuck down in it and she is sucking it right out of the box.
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If you know me, you know I am going to ask. She proceeds to explain that it's for her nerves and that she has been eating corn starch ever since she quit smoking cigarettes. I am really thinking that this must be some sort of practical joke, but she continues on about the texture and how it feels in her mouth, and that there isn't really a taste. The conversation continues as I learn how Argo used to have the best but they changed the packaging and now it tastes funny. Oh really??? Corn starch tastes funny??? What were they thinking? Now, the great value brand is what she goes for.

Still in some sort of disbelief, I get on the internet and learn that there are many people out there who have corn starch addictions. Mind you, most of them apparently are anemic and have other issues, but they are out there. I told her the next day that Clabbergirl gets rave reviews and that she is not the only one upset about the Argo switch. She tried Clabbergirl and said it was great, except for the packaging. She can't just use a straw and has to eat it with a spoon, which apparently changes the whole dynamics of the thing.

And to think I always thought corn starch was for making gravy - which reminds me I haven't yet blogged about gravy day. Another adventure, another day...

Monday, February 9, 2009

When the days all run together...

A couple of weeks ago, we took a trip to Kohl's to buy new jeans for one of the guys next door. He purchased about 4 new pairs and headed home. After a shower the next morning, he put on one of the new jeans and hasn't taken them off since. Well, not quite literally. He has taken them off to shower but only if we promise he can put them back on when he is done. And one night, he didn't sleep in them and I was able to wash, dry, and put them back before he woke up. So they have been washed once or maybe twice, but not much, and although they don't look dirty, I know I for one am ready to see him looking a little different. We truly all give a whole-hearted effort each day to convince this guy of all the reasons that different jeans would be a good idea. Since he isn't buying this, we, although we will still try, have given up fighting this particular battle and are focused more on winning the war. I mean really, if he is staying in the van, the tv is staying on the stand, and all the fixtures are staying on the wall, who cares what he is wearing, right???

Anyway, I guess this has caused my days to run together a little because the other day, I was going on and on about how nice Lowell looked and how I really liked the clothes he was wearing. Finally, he asked me if I was serious and when I said "yes" he informed me that they were the same clothes he had worn the day before and just hadn't had an opportunity to shower yet that day. For whatever reason, I liked the outfit so much today yet didn't even notice it yesterday. I guess seeing the "men in my life" wearing the same clothing over and over has made me somewhat numb to wardrobes. It's probably a sign of how crazy my life is that clean clothing has quickly become one of the little unimportant things.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Are We in Camelot???

On Tuesday of this week, (which by the way, should have been a good day as we seem to be on an every other day rotation) things started off with a bang. Literally. When I woke up and went next door at 7 am, I heard a banging coming from one of the rooms. I guess that was the first sign it wasn't going to be a good day.

Mr. Pop/TV/Rearview mirror guy normally comes out of his room with a smile, ready to take his morning medications and get his two dollars. He normally controls the behaviors relatively well until after the two bucks are in his wallet. This particular morning, I guess he woke up and decided he would rather hit some walls first.

After a few quick calls and texts to some backup help, I decided to try to divert attention to more positive activities, like maybe making breakfast. That worked long enough to get the meds down and breakfast checked off the list. Then, as you can probably guess if you've read older posts, as he was walking to his room and passed the TV, it got a good shove and landed on the floor. At this point, I decided to head back to my side of the duplex and watch the action from the half door while I made some phone calls. He pulled off the thermostat (we are constantly looking for the thermostat after these episodes - anybody else have that problem??) and then went to work on the doorbell. It was affixed pretty well, so it took a while to get that pulled off the wall, which was cool, because it bought us some time. While one staff member contained him in his room, Lowell and I went through the downstairs making it childproof. This means going ahead and making sure the furniture is already turned over, the remotes and phones are put away, the one decorative item in the house is in a cabinet, all the knobs are off the stove, the kitchen table is pushed up against the wall, and all of the chairs are in the garage. Once this was done, we were just going to let the bull out of the pen and act like the rodeo clowns trying to keep the rider as safe as possible. As we are thinking the medication should kick in SOON and bring some calm to the storm, the guy who "doesn't do stairs very well" charges upstairs to his housemates room. Staff yell out for him to lock his door, which he does, but then he quickly changes his mind too.

The next thing we know, he comes out of his room with a huge sword (which we later realized was plastic but looked real), gets up in the guy's face and yells "Get the (we'll say 'heck' to keep the reading censored and family friendly) out of my room!!!" And that was all it took. I guess that is what we call natural consequences, because he quickly comes back downstairs, begins to chill and asks for help cleaning up.

The Knight in Shining Armor carried about three swords around the whole day. And even though they were plastic, he didn't get messed with anymore.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Who uses the Red Box anyway??

So back in Benton, there were a group of stay-at-home moms who would meet at the local McDonalds on Thursday so that we could visit and our kids could play.

One such day not too long ago, we were discussing the McDonalds Red Box. Another friend said, "Does anybody really use that to rent movies?" And such began a vivid discussion of how great everyone who had used it thought it was. They told us about how they will often wait in line at the Red Box to rent or return a movie. A couple of us agreed we'd never seen a line or even thought about renting a movie at McDonalds. End of discussion and I didn't think much about it again until Monday.

Monday was a great day behavior-wise in our house. I normally do the afternoon "pop run" as the pop guy seems to respond a little better to me at this point than he does to Lowell. However, our supervisor was there and we were going over some documentation and paperwork stuff. Since we were having a good day, we thought Lowell would have no problems, and we sent him on his way.

About 20 minutes later, I received a text message that said, "Come to McDonalds before I get beat up." A little confused about how the drive to the local gas station for a pop ended up at McDonalds but realizing that now wasn't the time to question, we headed out. When we arrived, things were apparently a little bit calmer, but escalated fairly quickly. Lowell explained that when he was about to turn into the Presto station, he was informed that McDonalds would be preferred. After the last Presto episode, Lowell didn't argue (mainly for fear of losing the recently installed rearview mirror). Things were okay at McDonalds until the burger, fries, and coke that had just been consumed were no longer what was desired. What we wanted now is our money back. We all tried to explain that he had eaten the food and the nice people at McDonalds weren't inclined to give a full refund after the food has been eaten. Well that was not an acceptable response.

At this point, the yelling and screaming and hitting began. We all got out of his way, while still trying to keep him, us, and the other patrons safe. The first thing that was thrown across the restaurant was the bottle of cleaning solution. (And it probably shouldn't be just sitting out on top of the trash cans anyway should it???) The next thing to catch our attention was the Red Box. I guess it looked like it needed a good beating. And it got one. However, the crazy thing (besides the guy beating the Red Box) was that people kept coming in and returning movies. It was shocking to me that someone can be ripping pictures off of the wall, screaming, throwing things, and beating the movie rental box, and people continue to rent and return. Come on people, try Netflix, shipped right to your home with no danger of getting beat up!!!

Anyway, I guess the question about who uses the Red Box was answered for me on Monday - a few of my friends in Benton and at least half the population in the town of Lawrence! At least it seemed like that at the time.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Well that's one way...

So we moved to Lawrence, had a week to move in, a week of training, and a week of shadowing. Boy how I would go back to those weeks if we could. Excuse me for a moment of wishful thinking...

Anyway, week 4 was our first week on our own in the house with the guys. We felt like we had done really well with beginning to build relationships and getting to know their routines. One of the guys is very structured and likes each day to be pretty much like the one before. Lowell and I were doing most everything together at this point to ensure that neither of us got stuck in a situation we couldn't handle. And boy was that a good thing!

We drove out to the local gas station where we go every morning to get a "pop" (but when we go back to Arkansas, we will still say to go get a "Coke"). When we arrived, we were quickly and loudly informed that this particular day, this guy did not want to get his pop from that location. After he told us verbally, he proceeded to rip the rearview mirror off the windshield, open his door and toss the mirror across the parking lot. (We've since been told that the rearview mirror is "always the first to go.") We got out of the van and immediately called our supervisor - who by the way is absolutely great - and she told us that someone would be on the way to help and just try to keep him calm and safe. After several more outbursts, a squeegee or two and a Diet Coke thrown, he decided that he wanted to go home and promised to "be good." We responded that we would take him home but he would have to ride in the back of the van. He complied easily, so we thought, "Wow, that was crazy, but I guess it's all settled down now."

Have we ever been more wrong???? As I am driving down Iowa Street (a rather large and busy five lane, that I might compare with Cantrell or Chenal for all my AR friends), I see out of my peripheral vision (not the rearview mirror, mind you) that he is not longer in agreement to remain in the backseat and is quickly headed our way. I pull over at the same time as he reaches the door, slings it open and hops out. Lowell gets out too, and realizing I am stopped on a busy street, I drive around to a side street to watch the action.

For a few minutes they remained on a sidewalk safely away from traffic. But I guess that got boring, because they soon were in the street. Lowell was doing his best to keep a close eye on the guy to ensure he was safe (as safe as he could be IN the street) while at the same time directing traffic around him. We were amazed at the fact that you can stand in the street and people do what you want them to. The two of them took a little time in each lane of the street and at one point, the guy even sits down on the side of the road with his legs stretched out while Lowell remained in the street continuing to direct traffic. I guess I don't need to say that at this point the guy was completely irrational and there was no just asking him to comply and get out of the road. Finally, after what seemed to us like an hour, but was probably only a few minutes, one of the long-time behavior analysts for the company drives up, the guy is happy to see him, gets in the car and waves bye to Lowell.

The next thing that happened still makes me laugh. So Lowell is on one side of the street and I and the van are on the other. Lowell hollars out to me that he is going to walk down to the crosswalk and that he'll meet me in a minute. I guess the irony of him standing in the middle of a busy street for 15 minutes directing traffic and then worrying later about jaywalking just struck me as really funny at the time.

When we all arrived safely home and were telling Joshua about the good times on Iowa (which we have now termed "Initiation Street") he just laughed and said, "Well, I guess that's one way to meet people in a new town. Just stand in the middle of a busy street and wave!"