I work for a company that employs people with disabilities. We have a production area that some disabled adults work in. We refer to them as clients and even kids, because they are just like kids. Work is like a box of chocolates....you never know what you're gonna get. Sometimes I answer multiple phone calls from the same person in one day. Sometimes people call me for directions and they have to call multiple times from their cell phone as they are on their way. "I see that store, now where do I go?" Some of them we are scared of because they have a driver's license.
I needed to use the ladies room one day last week. I was the only one in the three stall loo and had just sat down when I heard the bathroom door open and close. Next thing I know there were two sneakers under my door. One of the clients had made their way to our side of the building and was peeking through my bathroom door. She turned and left as soon as she saw whatever it was she was looking for, or not. I thought of all the funny things I could have done, like yell at her to "get the hell out of here" or maybe moon her. Unprofessional that would have been. But funny. I told the supervisor in the back and she said she always does that. So I guess I'm not special.
My friend/coworker shared her experience with a client. The client was yelling that she needed a plastic bag as she was holding a wet paper bag. She was making quite a scene and yelling, "I need a plastic bag for my hairspray!" Kate told her she didn't have a plastic bag and maybe ask another worker. This settled her and she said she would ask someone else and would Kate hold her bag for her while she asked. Kate held the wet paper bag, which she discovered had an odor. A very yucky odor. It didn't smell like hairspray. When the client came back Kate asked, "What is in this bag? It stinks!" Client says, "Oh. That's my dirty underwear." Ew.
Then this very same week we had a client who has Down's Syndrome come to the window. This client always wears a baseball cap and never smiles. He said in his very slow, quiet voice, "I'm sorry to bother you."
"What do you need, Ross?" we asked him.
"I'm sorry to bother you." Big sigh. "Well," sigh, "I went to the bafroom," sigh, "A while ago," sigh, and then holds his hands level to his shoulders, "and it was this big." Sigh. "And my stomach hurts." Sigh. "I don't feel good." I'm thinking his intestines probably needed time to adjust to their new position in his gut. We didn't laugh while he was there. You're probably wondering what I said to that. It was something like this: "You'll probably start feeling better since you went to the bathroom." One of the other secretaries said, "Krista, if you don't want to help another person at that window today, we'll understand."