Sunday, October 10, 2010

embarrassment + residents + a snap back to reality

I work a silly amount of hours on Saturdays and I like to complain about it. But I also like being off 3 days a week, so it's a bit tongue in cheek... Regardless, I dig my job. I have been given the opportunity to work with some very talented, very smart, very funny individuals. One of the bonuses of my position is that I get a chance to find cool recreational activities for the residents to attend. I try really hard to search out things that I know are safe and enjoyable and affordable, but aren't solely catered to folks with special needs....Just over a year ago, one of my buddy's decided to make a little movie and it turned out to be just freaking hilarious. Isaac played a fairly big part behind the scenes and was delightful as the deputy in the film. Anywoo, the movie debuted last night at the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, IN. Two of my residents wanted to attend, so we ventured on over to watch the show.

Both make friends fairly easily, so it wasn't totally cool with them for me to be sitting cheek to cheek during the film. Understandable, so I sat a couple rows back with my Isaac and my in-laws. All was well until about 1/2 way thru, one started laughing really, really loud and repeating his favorite lines. During some rather tense scenes, one of the other residents shouted out, "2 Kings!??!" and several "Oh no's!"..... Stuff like that usually doesn't bother me, but for some reason it really did last night. I got all embarrassed and Isaac just kept reassuring me they were fine. After the movie ended, there was a Q&A session with the director and one of my guys asked what seemed to me,  a couple of "embarrassing questions".  I was mortified. Every muscle in my body was tense. And then to top it all off, from the time we hit the escalators to the parking garage, he reenacted his favorite scene, which just happened to be a dirty dance, in front of several hundred people. Each time shouting, "and then he did this to that handicapped lady!"  Holy shit.

Thankfully, on the 45 minute drive home, I had some time to think about my actions. I decided I was embarrassed for 2 main reasons:
1) It was my buddy's night. He and a slew of others have worked tirelessly on this project and I didn't want anything to overshadow that.
2) I really, truly love the residents that I work with in that house. I'm lucky enough to work with some of the coolest people on the planet. Sometimes they annoy me. Sometimes the choices that they make anger me. But I love their hearts and I very desperately want others to see how amazing they are. Most of the residents that I work with are aware that they have some form of disability, but I am confident that they don't see themselves as disabled. It's actually quite interesting, because I've had the opportunity to converse with a few of them on the way they few "the handicapped" - aka people who have very defined physical disability. To some of my residents, there is pity thrown because to them, the other person's handicap is very tangible, very defined - you can see that there is something different. I don't really think that my guys connect with someone who's disability differs from theirs. ( I think that's why my residents didn't get upset with the scene with the woman in the wheelchair)  For the most part, they don't see themselves as broken (nor should they) or delayed in some areas. I think one of the biggest fears that I have for my guys is that other "typical" individuals would walk away saying things like, "Those disabled folks sure said some crazy things".  Even though I get that they have a developmental disability, I never want that to trump the truth that they're a human first, and ridiculously witty and intelligent. 

And honestly, my guy asked the questions he did during the Q&A session because to him, he really was concerned about those issues. And I didn't take them to see the movie because I thought they'd appreciate the budget or what type of camera was used. I took the both of them because they like to laugh. And my friends are funny. He reenacted the dance scene because he thought it was hilarious. She said "Oh no" and "2 Kings!", not because she's a master poker player, but because she's smart enough to pick up on the cues that something tense or dangerous or uncertain is about to happen. Before we had even left the ballroom, my guy was asking when he could see it next because "it was so, so, so funny!" and the director is "his boy".  (I always forget that this is the residents term of endearment for him)

Shame on me for being embarrassed when I was the one who invited them. Shame on me for dishonoring them by being more concerned with what others thought instead of focusing on the fact that they were enjoying a really good flick. Shame on me for slipping up and for viewing them as someone with a disability instead of the seeing them for who they are.  Clearly, I still have a way's to go.