Just because it's all you've ever seen...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Anaheimfan, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Anaheimfan

    Anaheimfan Blue Collar Boy

    ....Doesn't mean it's all you will ever see.

    Hi everyone, just bringing a work experience into everyday life. It was probably the greatest lesson I could ever learn.

    One day on the ambulance, we were running constant calls to the low-income part of town. This part of town cosists of gov't housing, trailers, and houses that are just in a general state of disrepair because of those who reside in it.

    Every single time we rolled out there, it was either another drunk, junkie, skell, calling us because they too drunk or stoned to take their medications, or family calling because they refused to take their medications...Or the ones who thought we were the district taxi service. Everytime we walked in, the house looked like hell...It stank, there was mold everywhere, dirty dishes left everywhere, animal urine and feces on occaision. It was really unpleasant to all 5 senses. I got conditioned to believe that EVERY run I would go to in that area would be just like that.

    So it's gettin towrds lunch, I haven't eaten yet. Once again, we get a High-Priority call to the low-income section of town. Woman in her 60's with a GI-Issue. First things running through my head "Yay, a skell that will be puking or xxxxxxxx all over herself, the truck, us." So we arrive at the house and ofcourse it looked the same as the others, but smelled a bit prettier. However, my assumptions about the pt were still the same, so I am ashamed to say my bedside manner was way less than proper.

    I came to find out after droppin this woman off that she was a devout church-going lady who was only living in that particular area of town because her husband--and only source of income--died. And the house was only in a poor state because the woman had been sick for awhile....Boy did I ever feel like dirt.

    Now, my behavior had an adverse effect on the situation in numerous ways. 1: Makes the Service look bad because you got a complete and total jerk comin off the truck. 2: Makes the pt uncomfortable and defensive. 3: If we would have been called back, and I had been attending the woman, I woulda had a hard time getting her to cooperate with me or trust me because I was such an xxxxxxx the first time around.

    But, it was all I had ever seen. Little did I know, it wasn't all I would ever see.

    The moral of the story is quite simple, and quite worn out...But don't judge a book by it's cover. You may never know the effect that pre-conceived notions about people and places will have on any situation.
    Lasted edited by : Jul 1, 2009
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Quite true. Im glad you admitted it to yourself.

    I bet the paramedics who came to my house to get me felt much the same as you. My house, while not in a bad section of town, is in a pretty run down condition. My bedroom was filled with trash and dirty clothes because I am pretty much disabled and it takes a whole lot of work for me to get it clean. I am really working on that. The medics actually broke my bedside table getting me out. I am also a very large woman. Im sure it was quite a struggle for them. I feel very bad for them. I dont remember a thing though so I wouldnt hold anything against them.
  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Its a very good reminder for us all.
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    It's a great reminder.

    I know three people who live in a trailer park in a not-so-nice part of town. These people are within 1/2 mile of each other

    Person A: mold, ants, mice, can't see the floor. Nice lady usually, but her house is a mess and she's an alcoholic. Exterior looks decent thanks to friends.

    Person B: mold & ants. Trailer is beautiful inside and looks terrible out. She's a great person but unable to take care of yard stuff, and though her son helps he isn't able to do much either. She keeps the inside nice because she lives alone and tries not to make a mess to begin with.

    Person C: Beautiful trailer, inside and out. Security system, etc... But he's the one that can't keep himself together. Calls friends a lot and does the puking etc. on them. his wife keeps the place up and is a big-time enabler.

    So yeah, you can't determine what you're going to find by what you see. I'd rather visit person B any day. I don't care what the outside looks like!
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I'm glad you've learned an important lesson. I need to ask, though, that you watch your language in your posts... please no censor-beating. :winks:
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Every patient should always be treated with the same amount of respect regardless of what assumptions you've made about them and their living condition. You haven't walked in their shoes.

    This is a board of parents with difficult child's. There are many parents here whose kids would fall under your terms, "junkie", "drunk", and "skell", as well as mentally ill.
  7. Anaheimfan

    Anaheimfan Blue Collar Boy

    That's in essence what I'm talking about, along with admitting it was wrong, and thinking about how my attitude affected the whole situation.

    That's why I said, you need to consider what effect your attitude has on any situation you find yourself in. Regardless of if you wanna be there or not.
  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Parents of difficult children have learned to not judge a book by its cover.

    Because we are judged sooooo very much.

    So, I did not need this reminder. Having a difficult child taught me that lesson a long time ago.
    In fact, it is one I consider a gift from parenting a difficult child.
  9. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Anaheimfan, as parents of difficult children, on this board, most of us have already learned this lesson. I'm glad you learned this lesson, but I think you've insulted some of us.
  10. lizanne2

    lizanne2 New Member

    yes, i happened to live in that kind of neighborhood..... It is so much more complicated than you seem to realize.

    Heck, I am more complicated than that!
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Loth - I think this may have been a total misunderstanding. Yeah, we parents of difficult children know this only too well! But sometimes, I plead guilty right now, I assume things too. I shouldn't, and I know that, but I'm human.

    Then again, yes, I was mildly insulted, but I shook it off because it could be so much worse! Our neighborhood is "nice" on the surface but there are so many underlying issues - I mean, the neighbors don't ask if everyone is OK when they see the cops - they ask "what happened this time?" And it's sometimes not us.

    This is a good reminder for everyone. But... Not sure we needed it!
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have often wondered what the impact has been on my kids from growing up in the family that they did. I have been sick a pretty long time now. They grew up during their teen years having to take care of an elderly grandmother with alzheimers who had it pretty bad and declined rapidly. They washed her, fed her, did all those things teen boys shouldnt have to do to 70 year old female grandmothers. They have also dealt with mental illnesses with various members. And trashy houses. We have always been pretty poor.

    I think my kids have grown up to look past all that. When I was so sick they didnt blink when they had to clean me up. Jamie goes on calls with his job and I am pretty darn certain he sees everything Annaheim Fan sees and then some with abused animals. Im sure there are trashy house, feces on floors, drunks, junkies, dead and dying animals and everything else. Im sure it upsets him to see it for the people who have to live that way but I dont think he feels badly toward them. You can feel empathy for someones conditions without thinking they are bad people just because of their circumstances.
  13. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?


    In fact, I wrestle with the fact that I am now what is judged to be "white trash". It is not because I don't care, it is not because I want to be like this, it is not because I don't try.

    I don't have the time or resources (financial, emotional, etc) to do anything more.

    The deep freeze that fried due to electrical issues in April is in my driveway. It bothers me daily. I can only take it to the dump M-F 9-5. If I'm not working M-F 9-5, its because I'm off dealing with a difficult child issue. When i'm not off for a difficult child issue, I'm trying to catch up at work - I can't take off for the lame excuse of hauling off a dead freezer that looks bad in my yard. That dead freezer just isn't a very high priority, yet I know how I am judged because it sits there.

    It stings, but its life.

    I'm glad you recognized your own opinion. Recognition is the first step to change.
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Takes strong character to admit you were wrong. :)

    And it's a good reminder.

  15. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Ditto that, too!
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Shari....take a black marker and write on that deep freezer

    "Free for metal"

    I guarantee someone will come haul that freezer away within a day or two. People do that around here all the time with washers, dryers, fridges, water heaters...all kinds of things. Junk guys come and haul them off to junkyards for scrap metal.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    OMG. I totally agree. And as the parent of two AFrican-American kids I also wondered if that was a factor here. Sir, do you HAVE children? Are you raising a difficult child? Do you get mental illness and issues that lead to low income, alcoholism (in which heredity is a factor and in which white collar folks who are rich also suffer, but are treated better)? I don't know what a "skell" is and I probably don't want to know.

    Sir, if you have disrespect for those you are supposed to be helping, then in my opinion you are in the wrong field. You have no idea why they are "low-income" or the way they are, but to me it comes across as it you are the one who needs to change his attitude. Why even have your job if you have disdain for those you are supposed to help?
    I'll leave it at that because I so want to say much more...grrrrr. I hope you have learned to be kind to everyone who needs help. It is the reason you collect a paycheck and there is no need to treat ANYONE without respect.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2009
  18. Anaheimfan

    Anaheimfan Blue Collar Boy

    Clearly, I have offended people again without even thinking or trying to.

    Yes I learned my lesson after that incident.

    From now on, I will only offer advice if someone has a question.
  19. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Actually, Anaheim, I thank you for this post. I was once a young, naive person who thought all problem kids, or at least most, were a result of poor parenting. And all the people in "that part of town" deserved to be there.

    I can still clearly remember being that person, that judged so harshly, and so life-without-gray-ish.

    Like you, I had an AHA moment. I was blessed with not one, but TWO difficult child's. My easy child is fine; I parented him ok. My step-daughter is ok. Both difficult children' therapists and counselors, and wee difficult child's doctors have praised my parenting tremendously; our in-home, who works primarily in the St Louis area, says he rarely sees a child with the level of wee difficult child's problems without having a history of serious abuse. I can garauntee that has not happened (ok, well, maybe the school's carp, but that was AFTER he was a difficult child, not before).

    And I found this site, and other parents with troubled children, who were good parents. And I learned that I was wrong. But I still clearly remember the days when I knew it all....and oh, how I wish I could go back and change myself back then. I'm just glad I've changed, now.

    I am not offended and I hope you didn't take it as such. My DEX used to be on the department here in town, and its hard not to get...acclimated....to certain calls. Like the routine transport calls to the nursing home. He's been gone now for over 7 years, and I can still tell you the address of the nursing home and the departments codes. 99 calls out of 100 was an SOP call to transport a patient. But that 100th call...when someone truly needed help...you just assumed it was another routine SOP call...and ya know, I don't know how you don't just get acclimated to that.

    Anyway, I'm rambling, but seriously, kudos to you for seeing that light, AND for admitting it. Maybe someone else will stumble onto your thread and see that maybe it isn't always a choice, and it isn't always so black and white.

    And Janet, I will try your idea! What the heck. My neck is red...if no one takes it, maybe I'll paint some flowers on it or put it on blocks or something....play it up a bit. LOL
  20. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Anaheim Fan,

    I think a lot of us are hyper-sensitive because our kids are so difficult and we've had a long hard history of being judged badly for things that are totally beyond our control, that casual observers just can't understand.

    Like Shari, I want to thank you for your post. It reassures me that people's attitudes CAN change and ARE changing. I'm sure that the next time you're confronted with a situation similar to the one you describe, that you'll be more compassionate. Others might see and learn from the compassion you demonstrate, and our kids may have a less rough row to hoe in life.