Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I'm Not Going Anywhere Sam

NaBloPoMo January 2014  


For four years, I worked with adults who have MR/DD (mental retardation and developmental disabilities).  When I was in training, I found out the house to which I would be assigned initially.  This particular house was home to 16 - 18 'high-functioning' males.  Rumor had it that this house was one of the rougher assignments on the facility.  As a 40-something female, I was more than a little nervous.  Looking back now it seems funny, that I made my peace with the situation by accepting the fact that at some point, I would get injured.

One day, I was assigned as staff for a certain male resident.  He was verbal with a limited vocabulary.  Although other residents were more prone to violence than this man, I would much rather NOT take a hit from him because he was a bull-dog.  He was incredibly strong and powerful ... and bull-headed at times.  He loved to play shoot baskets and was on the Special Olympics basketball team at one point for our region.

He was also mad for magazines, so much so that he would go into other residents' rooms and other houses to take things that belonged to other people.

On the day in question, Sam (not his real name, of course) climbed into a golf cart that a medical staff member had left parked outside the house in full view of everyone there.  If he'd have been able to get the thing started, wow, I shudder even now to think of it.  I hear when our supervisor du jour was notified of the situation, she looked out of the window, said something like "This isn't my house," and walked on.  Thanks a lot.

Sam headed to the next house up from ours.  I called the staff on my cell phone and alerted them that we were headed that way.  Normally, the doors were unlocked at all times, but in some cases (like the situation at hand) it was safer to secure the doors temporarily.  When Sam could not get into that house, we went on a walking tour of the facility.  (I was not allowed to make physical contact with him.).

As we passed one classroom, where residents learned daily living social skills, he saw stacks of magazines in the window, and was determined to get in to them.  I blocked the door, holding it shut for the safety of the staff and residents in class at the time.  Sam did not like that.  He threw over a garbage can.  I hollered to the classroom staff to call our house to send some help.

Then he raised his right hand and slapped me hard across the left side of the face, knocking my glasses to the ground.  I bent down to pick them up (keeping my eyes on him), picked up my glasses, put them in my pocket and said in as calm a voice as I could muster, "I'm not going anywhere, Sam."

Just then, a visually-impaired resident exited a different classroom.  Sam went to kick him, and I stepped in between the two of them.  Sam went into the 2nd classroom, a physical therapy/exercise room.  Seeing who it was, the staff immediately retreated behind desks (yeah, thanks for that one too).  Sam picked up someones Walkman, threw it at the window and the Walkman exploded into dozens of pieces.

At that point, a male staffperson arrived from our house, entered the room and said, "What's up, Sam?"  It was like someone had flipped a switch, and Sam was all smiles as he walked home willingly with the other staff as I followed closely behind.


  1. Wow, what a stressful time in your life that must have been, LuAnn! Not only that particular situation, but I'm sure many of your days at that job were difficult. I was working on my Master's in Social Work for a little while. I was actually halfway through the program when I realized I didn't think I could handle the pressure of that type of work. There were other reasons I left the program, but that was definitely one of the deciding factors...

  2. No worries, Candace. You really have to have a heart or a calling for that type of work, or not have full control of your faculties. I admire the stuffing out of people who do the work. Anway, you are here now, and that's what matters!