Freudian Slips: It's All Gravy Now

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

June 23, 2005

It's All Gravy Now

The Life Plan Summary of an Individual Habilitation Plan identifies personal dreams. It is an outline of aspirations. Every meeting I coordinate on a client relates to their Life Plan Summary. The question is entirely too abstract for most of the mentally retarded population to cognitively tackle but the topic of conversation remains. My job is to facilitate clients achieving their Life Plan Summary or in some fashion working towards their goal(s). I help fill largely empty buckets.
In my career, I have received all kinds of unrealistic answers from “I want to marry Pamela Anderson.” to “I want to catch a great white shark with my bare hands.” I have had a client deathly scared of heights wanting to become an astronaut, a woman with hepatitis begging to flip hamburgers at McDonalds, and a blind person longing to walk to work. I have become largely desensitized to the unrealistic answers I get for this important question and the appropriate answers no longer come gift-wrapped with any element of surprise.
Arlo would change that. In 2003, I had the privilege of sitting at the kitchen table with Arlo, a new client on my caseload. I asked Arlo to state his goals and aspirations. He gave me a pensive stare. I re-phrased the question in concrete terms he might better understand. Only mildly retarded, Arlo didn’t need me to ask him the same question twice. One could argue that he didn’t need me as his social worker either because he was doing a pretty good job with his own life. Arlo sat forward in his chair, leaned against the table, and folded his hands not unlike prayer. His speech labored through an overbite but his life force emanated from within.
“Joe, that’s a tough question because I am living my life plan.”
“You are? In what way?” I asked in earnest.
“All of my life I have dreamed of working in my hometown for the Department of Public Works. Since I was a boy, I wanted to grow-up to become a fireman, and I always wanted to visit Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home.” Arlo paused. “You see, I have worked for Public Works since 1988 and I have been a volunteer fireman for nearly as long. I have already been to Graceland to ‘see the man’ so anything you do for me is gravy.”
His words rang true with the weight of a proclamation. My pen came to a screeching halt. I got up from my seat and offered him a congratulatory handshake.
I recently used a voucher stipend cash subsidy to send him back to his beloved Graceland. When it comes to accomplished realized goals, the best a social worker can do is refill the same trusty bucket.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice story, Joe, life can be so simple...I wish I had simple goals! chi

4:37 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Chi,
How about how to cook beef wellington without flaking the filo dough?

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, thanks for writing and sharing this sweet story. Simplicity is the key to opening the door to true knowledge. My cup overflows just like Arlo's bucket. Arlo has found what most are seeking, contentment. ET

10:21 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

ET,
Would a non-Italian have called this story - It's All Sauce Now?

8:18 PM  
Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

I just wanted to say that it is my experience, as a person who is basically living my goals, that what you said about the retarded population is true about the non-retarded population too. Ask a person what their goals and dreams are -- and they might sometimes have some. Ask them what they are doing to live them, and it is a blank stare, or hostility, or some such.

Can't say I think the taxpayers ought to be sending him to Graceland, but I do think we all need to do what makes our hearts sing.

Go Arlo!

9:52 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Contrary,
As Martin Luther King once said, I have a dream. Now wake-up and do something about it.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Zelda Parker said...

What is it that keeps some from really living their dreams? Life is short and we have no time to loose!

6:17 AM  
Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

I was blog surfing and just saw a quote somewhere from that Vincent painter guy, something like, I dream my painting, then I wake up and paint my dreams.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Contrary,
Here I thought I was on to something prophetic and original.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Zelda,
Most people approach life like salmon swimming upstream.

10:43 PM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

Joe,

Back in the day when I was an ATS center supervisor, I was sitting in on one of the client's IHP's. The consumer's name was "Alice" .

During the course of the meeting, her case manager asked what she wanted most out of life to which she replied, "I want to be just like Mary!"

The CM nodded, “Oh, is Mary a friend or maybe your sister?"

Alice shook her head,” No silly, I want to have a baby with out all that dirty sex, just like Mary did in the bible!"

3:38 PM  
Blogger justrose said...

Awesome story. Good for him! And how cool that you could help him, Joe.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Pax,
Must have been Alice in Wonderland's meeting.

Justrose,
Now if only I can send myself on vacation.

10:50 AM  

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