Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spoon full of Crazy, an Occupational Hazard

     There is no good way to gage just how sane you are. Our internal logic always makes sense to us. You need to ask someone else to be your yardstick if you really want an honest answer[1]. Still, going a little nuts is an occupational hazard if you work in the mental health industry for any significant length of time. The truth is crazy is contagious.
         Hang out at the Chicken Bone Saloon in Framingham on any given week night and you will see the seeds of crazy being planted. It’s where the staff of a certain well-known residential program goes to wash off the crazy with beer, whiskey, and blues after work. It is impossible to wash off all the crazy, even with top-shelf whiskey (which none of them can afford because they work in a residential program). Eavesdrop on a few of their conversations. This won’t be difficult as they all have learned to speak with voices that carry into the most reluctant ears. Chances are, if they just got off work, they have not drunk their voices back to normal yet.  You’ll hear something like this:

Veteran 1: “Did you see JP go off after lunch today?”

Veteran 2: “No, was it the Granny Nurses again?”

Veteran 1: “Yup, she ended up biting three people then she took a swan dive off the table, aiming for the silverware tray.”

Veteran 2: “ All because of the Granny Nurses? What did they do to piss her off this time?”

Veteran 1: “I think they missed her birthday again, all she could talk about was ‘How those old b**ches couldn’t get anything right’”

Veteran 2: “Well when you have a birthday every two weeks….”

Newby: “Umm, who are the Granny Nurses?”

Veteran 2: (laughing) “We are all Granny Nurses”

Newby: “Huh?”

Veteran 1: “Look, JP has a bunch of old ladies living in her head she calls the Granny Nurses, if she starts twirling her hair and rocking back and forth, take cover- she’s fighting with the Granny Nurses.”

Veteran 2: “That’s when we all become Granny Nurses”

Veteran 1: “The only person who can calm her down when she is mad at the Granny Nurses is the ‘Biggest Fattest Granny Nurse Ever’, BUT…… she but doesn’t work until ‘tomorrow’ ”

Newby: (after doing the mental math and coming up one fat lady short on the staff roster) “I’ll get the next round”

         You just can’t spend 40-60 hours a week cleaning up after the Granny Nurses without a stronger astringent than whiskey. By far, the best medicine for insanity is a spoon full of Crazy. No, they are NOT the same thing. After the novelty of drinking wears off, meaning last call at the Chicken Bone, someone inevitably will say, “anyone in the mood for a swim?”  Framingham is blessed with a reservoir that is dissected by a train-bridge. If you happen to be driving along Route 9, at say 2:15 a.m., look across the water and you will see the silhouette of naked bodies balanced precariously along the train tracks about 8 feet above the water. They will, allegedly[2], be jumping into the water at the mid-point of said bridge. Okay, that doesn’t sound soooo crazy, but remember most of these kids are rookies. Eventually jumping naked off a bridge into ice-cold water gets boring. That’s when crazy takes a road trip into the foothills of insanity. At this point you are going to need to seek out that reliable person who is your yardstick and ask them for an honest appraisal. Of course, you already know the answer because you had to ask.
         If the person you are asking works with you………have a nice trip, we will see you both when you get back.

[1] I’m not sure any of us really want the honest answer, if you do- you’re crazy
[2] Allegedly, because it is not strictly speaking “legal” to do this.

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