Please Don't Poke The Aging Bear

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Being a personal assistant to senior citizens has provided me with more than a glimpse into their private business.  In fact, there are times when I think I should have been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.  The thing is, I don’t pry into anyone’s life.  I do not ask.  Mostly I do not want to know.  My imagination is active enough.  Even when I learn of things that surprise me, I try to maintain a degree of professionalism.  Some folks make that harder for me to do than others.

A case in point would be Arthur.  I work for him, yet we enjoy a valuable friendship, as well.  Arthur likes to share with me what’s going on in his life, like all the time. Who else can you talk to when you’re in your sixties and attending an anger management class?  I suppose the bigger question to answer is why one is in such a class to begin with. 

I pondered that very question this morning while sitting in the mental health clinic waiting room at a local military hospital where Arthur was serving his time in this week’s session for angry individuals.  What kind of anger problems is he dealing with?  Does he have a bad temper?  Deep-rooted, unresolved childhood issues?

After a long hour, Arthur’s buzz cut finally appears in the doorway.  We set off down the hallway to catch an elevator, Arthur behind his walker, and me loaded down with my laptop bag and purse.

“So, how did it go?”  I can’t help myself.

Arthur looks down and shakes his head.  Uh-oh.  That can’t be good.

“What happened?”

“The guy denied the deity of God.”  Oh, boy.

I shoot him a knowing look. “What did you do?”

“I got into it with the psychiatrist.”  Surprise, surprise.

“I can’t take you anywhere.”

We plod along, our destination almost in sight.  We hang a left down the next hallway when a somewhat younger man from Arthur’s class approaches us and addresses Arthur.

“Hey, I thought you had some pretty good points in there, if only he (the psychiatrist) would have let you talk.”

Arthur, without missing a beat, replies to the guy, “He’s a loser,” and keeps walking.  I see the fog lifting and suddenly the reason for Arthur’s attendance begins to come into focus.

We are out in the oppressive southern heat loading the walker into my truck when I pose the nagging question.  The engine is running, the air conditioner cranking out the initial blast of hot air.  I am standing by the rear passenger door, exhaust fumes blowing up my nose, but I have to ask.

“What did you do to get assigned to an anger management class, anyway?”

“I told two psychiatrists and a counselor about my plan to have my son in-law killed.” 

Mystery solved.  Now it all makes perfect sense.  I should have thought of that.

“How many more times do you have to attend the class?”

“Only four more times.  I missed the first six.”  Hmmm.

This is why I do not ask.  Sometimes being in the dark is a good thing.  Do we really need to know how all of our tax dollars are being spent?

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