Freudian Slips: Disarming Demeanor

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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.

April 20, 2009

Disarming Demeanor

In my community based social worker career, I have stepped into countless lives and private homes. No two people or homes are the same.

In 1994, a nine-year-old girl came through intake for agency services and wound up on my caseload. When I interviewed her mid-thirty something mother over the telephone, she seemed protective to a fault about her daughter, who held diagnoses of mild mental retardation and cerebral palsy.

Further conversation revealed that this was the mother’s first and only child. The mother did not work outside the home and described her life as evolving around the special needs of her disabled daughter. When I tried to schedule a house call to meet both of them, the conversation cooled and the mother’s voice trembled. The mother was uncomfortable with the arrangement. I offered to show proper identification upon arrival and gave her my supervisor’s name and phone number. Despite my attempts to assure her a home visit was protocol for case managers, she was reluctant to approve of me entering her home. She explained that her husband prefers to be home whenever a man enters the household. Understanding the family dynamics of this old fashioned household, I invited the husband to join us.
On the day of my visit, the school bus was late getting little Eleanor home and the father could not take off from his job. This left me home alone with the jittery mother for the first thirty minutes. I used my charm to appear disarming so that she might feel comfortable. She kept looking at the front door for her daughter’s arrival as if it were also an avenue of escape if need be. I sat at the kitchen table with my hands folded trying to build rapport by discussing her daughter’s interests.
When the short yellow school bus pulled up like a savior on wheels, the mother dashed out the front door. Soon Eleanor walked into the house with a determined gait tethered by her mother’s handheld grip. Eleanor began to play with age appropriate toys on the tiled kitchen floor. With my back to the mother, I kneeled to introduce myself to Eleanor. Through parallel play, we rolled a Barbie convertible car back and forth until she was giddy with laughter.
When I returned home from work, I cleaned out my pants pockets. To my horror, I found a large serrated steak knife sticking high out of my back pants pocket. I had used the sharp knife like overkill to cut a day old bagel that morning at my desk. Before trying to act disarming in a dangerous world, I must remember to drop my weapons before I can expect to drop anyone’s guard.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Duh! No wonder why she was so nervous. She just watched a bunch of crime shows hbefore you got there!

7:04 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Or worse...Jerry Springer.

9:21 AM  
Blogger mommanator said...

holy cow, i's a wonder she didn't brandish a machetti!

10:36 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

knives make not proper utility for a social worker.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes, in order to cut through all the "RED Tape" that's thrown in our pathway, a sharp instrument is required!

12:01 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

I hear ya.

12:52 PM  

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