Freudian Slips: Human Bulletin Boards

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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.

February 19, 2006

Human Bulletin Boards

Chantel Archemede Spiggizoi is a multiply handicapped woman, who demonstrated a failure to thrive in her developmental years. Chantel has defied doctor’s expectations because she wasn’t expected to see her tenth birthday. While she has survived into adulthood, Chantel still requires as much anticipatory caregiving on a continuum as an infant. Severe cerebral palsy and profound mental retardation are but a few of her challenges in life.

Day program staff brought to my attention an unusual complaint involving Chantel’s nursing home. For over a week, staff hoped that the problem would simply go away. Once staff recognized it as habit forming, they invited the involvement of myself, Chantel’s social worker. In dubiously, I left my cubicle office to greet Chantel as she came off of the bus. The platform lift lowered her wheelchair with a familiar hydraulic sound. A bus aide handed the rails to a day program staff member, who wheeled Chantel inside the building. Asleep in her wheelchair, Chantel looked angelic. I couldn’t help but notice, however, a rather loud note pinned to her pretty blouse by a nursing home staff.

“Change me!” shouted the note.

The following morning, staff summoned me again. I marched to the staging area. Chantel unwittingly carried further instructions. The instructions were again scrawled on a note and attached to her body by a universal paper clip.

“Feed me!” it read.

I answered with a grimace, “I get the message now. I will address it.” I made one telephone call to that nursing home and the reminder notes stopped. My vocation often calls for more diplomacy than I can muster. In this instance, I was able to successfully state the dehumanizing aspect of the issue without emotion. My mind, however, has a damning duality to it. I started to imagine a different scenario. If Chantel possessed enough faculties to write, this is the note she would staple to her chart at the nursing home.

Dear nursing home,

Please note that I did not eat Gerber’s baby food every day for the last twenty six years to now be used as a human bulletin board. I deserve more dignity than to have notes pinned on my lapel. It is challenging enough to go through life confined to a wheelchair without becoming an unwilling participant in a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Albeit malformed, my body is as much a temple as yours. It should be respected and not be used for the convenience of staff. When an issue arises in my care, please extend me the common courtesy of utilizing the communication log book that is kept in my backpack. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Sincerely,

Chantel Archemede Spiggizoi

While driving to work the following day, introspection resurfaced. I started to think about what it truly would be like to be Chantel. I sunk so deep in thought that the road in front of me appeared in soft focus. A minute later. I snapped out of my altered state to pay attention to the road. A late model conversion van caught my attention as it moved at a dangerously slow speed in front of me. I leaned on the brakes. Blanketed in pollen and grime, the van desperately needed a bath. I noticed a handwritten message scrawled across the back window.

“Wash me!”

…Yeah, that is exactly what it must be like to be Chantel.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous et said...

The reminder notes stopped, but did the abuse?

5:51 AM  
Blogger rfvgardens said...

It's all about respect. I'm glad there's people like you out there. We're all here to take care of one another, that's our purpose.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Et,
I can only adress the tangible.

Gardens,
Wasn't that a song. R-E-S-P-E-C-T? Got to go, Mike is at the front door dropping off another tee shirt....

9:43 PM  
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12:59 AM  

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