Nuts and Bolts

“I just remembered Eddy had corn in the mixed vegetable at dinner,” Ran called as he returned from the bedrooms in the back. “Isn’t he allergic to corn? Check his face sheet.”


I clicked on the EDWARD DORIN link and reviewed his material.


Diagnosis: 299.00 Autistic d/o (Severe), 319 Mental Retardation (Unspecified, Unknown           Etiology), 312.34 Intermittent Explosive d/o.

Diet: Regular Texture Solids (Please provide reminders to eat/drink slowly, chew thoroughly, etc.).

Other: Allergic to penicillin, no haloperidol (Adverse Reaction).


Each of the others now in their rooms had similar links. “No, nothing here,” I said.


“Oh yeah, never mind, that’s Jake.”


“Did Jake have the mixed vegetables? I didn’t notice.”


“No, he had green beans. We’re good.”


“Aren’t you regular on this house?” I asked, pretending to hassle him.


A corner of Ran’s mouth curled upward, his eyes bright. “Hey, there’s a lot to remember.” He gave an easy shrug. “You know we need to know these guys backwards and forwards, from their diagnoses, to the size of their underwear, and everything in between.”


“You and Jason are regular on this house so you only need to know these guys. I’m in the pool so I need to know all the residents,” I pointed out.


“This agency runs ten group homes throughout the community and each one has about six residents, so that’s about sixty residents,” Ran said. “Technically you need to know all those houses as well as we need to know our own. Do you? No.”


“It’s not possible,” Jason said.


“You don’t need to tell me,” I said.


“But everyone up in administration expects you to,” Ran continued, “because you’re in the staffing pool, so you call the staffing office every working day to find out which one of those homes you’ll be working at. Could be any of ’em so you need to know ’em all equally well. Not possible when you’re at one house one day and a totally different one the next, but that’s your job description. You can go months without seeing a certain house. No opportunity to learn, but you’re still expected to know. No predictability in your schedule. That’s why I went regular on a house after just a few months out here.”


“Couple of these homes I’d never been to before I went regular on this house,” Jason said. “But if, all of a sudden, I had been put on one of those houses as pool staff I would have to be able to work it.” “Supposedly we’re trained for anything we’ll run across, but that’s all just book smarts. Big difference in that and what can actually happen inside these walls. Or when you take the guys on a community outing.”


“When I first heard of this place—” Ran smiled with reminiscence, stretching out in a chair, fingers knitted behind his head “—I thought I’d be working with nice little kids with Downs and all that. Come to find out these guys are all adults with serious problems and nowhere else to go. Can’t stay home if they have one ’cause parents can’t handle them. Can’t be in school ’cause their IQ’s too low or they’ve graduated or special ed’ can’t handle them or whatever. Can’t go to the mental hospitals because it’s not just mental illness, they’ve got mental retardation also. So they can’t go in with the regular crazies, you know. These guys end up here because there’s nowhere else for them to go.


The End

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