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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I hate to intervene, but....

I was part of my very first "intervention" today. It was a pretty weird, uncomfortable experience.

It all started with another very weird, uncomfortable experience. See, the agency where I work has, as part of its mission, an initiative to help provide job opportunities for people with disabilities. Sometimes it's physical, sometimes it's developmental. So, there's a lot of folks with special needs around the office, which keeps things interesting at times.

Last week, on my way to my car for lunch, one of these folks struck up a conversation with me. He's a nice kid, but a little out of touch with reality at times. He gets lonely and will follow people around work, make himself at home in their offices, "escort" ladies around the building... all very good-natured, of course. Those are his good days. On his bad days, he lives in his own little world.

But, as a lonely young fellow, he also isn't quite sure how to behave around women. He stands too close, and occasionally touches people inappropriately.

That sounds horrible, the way I say it. It's very harmless. He hasn't grabbed anyone in their "bathing suit area" or anything like that. He just gets too familiar at times.

Anyway, that's what he did to me last week. I won't go into details... it was harmless, but it also wasn't cool. And he knew it right away. He even said "I'm sorry I touched you inappropriately." (He's obviously been talked to about this before)

Sooo.... I told his caseworker, who told his mom, who told his boss... who decided we needed an intervention. So the three of us explained to this troubled young man that touching girls isn't cool... and that it could get him in a lot of trouble if he continues to behave like that.

The poor kid was terrified, and kept asking if he was losing his job. For what it's worth, he apologized again. I feel really badly for him. When people are nice to him, he thinks it's an open invitation... but when people are strict with him, he's terrified he'll be punished.

In a little over a year at this job, it's the first real "situation" I've had to deal with. It really makes me appreciate what we do.


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