“Yeah, I heard something about that,” Rick answered.
“Well, it’s true, but the story has been greatly exaggerated. I spent about two weeks in a psychiatric rehabilitation facility in San Francisco. I was there basically for observation so that the doctors could make a diagnosis,” Misty explained.
“So, what did the doctors come up with?” Rick asked.
“At that time they told me it was manic depression. My psychiatrist in Winnipeg changed the diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder.”
“Yeah, I remember you telling me about that. Do you need to take medication?’
“Yes, lithium. For a long time, I wasn’t really taking it. I just lied to my doctor and my parents telling them that I was taking the lithium regularly. I got busted when they eventually took a blood test. The test showed that there was no trace of lithium in my body.”
“Why didn’t you take your medication?”
“Because it made me feel worse. To be more precise I didn’t feel any emotions at all when I first started taking it. Plus, it was making me gain weight.”
“So, do you take lithium now?” Rick asked.
“No. My new psychiatrist in Winnipeg put me on chlorpromazine after he changed my diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder,” Misty answered.
The restaurant was starting to get very smoky. It appeared that most of the customers were puffing hard on their cigarettes while they sucked back the strong Salisbury House coffee. The smoke in the air was starting to make Rick’s eyes water.”
“Let’s go back to Memorial Park. It’s getting too smoky in here for me,” said Rick.
Rick and Misty started walking back across the Osborne bridge. Misty thought she saw the shadowy figure of a man trying to climb up on the railings of the bridge.
Rick said, “It looks like that guy is going to try to jump over the bridge.”
Both Rick and Misty started yelling, “Hey man, stop! What are you trying to do?”
“Leave me alone. I’m going to jump,” the man answered.
“Let’s talk a bit first,” Misty said.
“Talk about what?” the man asked.
“About anything. Misty and I have been looking for someone interesting to talk to.” Rick answered.
“I’m not an interesting person and anyway you’ve got each other to talk to,” the man said.
“Let me be the judge of that. How about the three of us go to the Sals and get a cup of coffee? It’s starting to get chilly out here.” Rick said.
“I don’t even have enough money for a coffee, man, and I just smoked my last cigarette,”
“What’s your name?” Misty asked.
“Norman or just Norm.”
“Hi, I’m Misty and this is my boyfriend, Rick.”
“Like I said, I haven’t got enough money to go to the Sals and I’m kind of busy here.”
“Okay. I’ll tell you what. You come down from the railing and I’ll pay for your coffee and anything else you want to eat. Don’t worry about cigarettes. I just opened a new pack. How about it?” Rick asked.
“Well, I guess I could have my last coffee and cigarette before I leave this world.” Norm answered.
“That’s great. I’ll give you a smoke right now,” Rick said.
When they got back the Salisbury House, Norm ordered a Big Nip, and an order of fries and a coffee.
“Thanks guys. I haven’t had anything to eat yet today. My dad kicked me out at around ten this morning,” Norm said.
“So what have you been doing all day to keep warm?” Misty asked.
“I’ve been riding the bus. My dad bought me a monthly bus pass before I got the boot,” Norm said. “I don’t know what to do or where to go. Two months ago my mom kicked me out of her place.”
“Don’t worry we’ll figure something out,” Misty said.
Norman Robinson was only nineteen years old, but he was already starting to take on the appearance of a homeless person. He was tall and very thin. Misty noticed that Norman had a missing front tooth. He had a large hole in the front of his navy blue parka that made it look like he had vomited on his coat. The hole was actually a result of Norman helping his dad remove a defective battery from his car. In the process of completing this task, Norman had gotten some battery acid on his jacket. The acid had burned the hole in it.
Misty turned to Rick and said, “Let’s take Norm over to my place. I think my dad might like to talk to Norman.”
“What makes you say that?” Rick asked, looking somewhat befuddled.
“My dad has changed a lot since the summer. I’ll tell you about it later, but he now has a job working at a homeless center,” Misty answered.
“Wow. Lloyd has a steady job now,” Rick said.
“Look you guys have done enough for me already. After I finish my coffee and smoke I’ll just walk back to the bridge,” Norman said.
“I don’t think that’s such a great idea,” Rick said. “You don’t have a place to go tonight, do you?”
“That settles it. You’re coming with us,” Rick said firmly.
Rick, Misty and their new friend walked back to Rick’s car that was parked on a street next to Memorial Park. When Rick tried to start his car the engine wouldn’t turn over.
“Damn,” Rick said. “I just put a new battery in two weeks ago,”
“Open the hood Rick and let me have a look,” Norman said.
“In less than a minute Norman asked Rick to try starting the car again. This time the engine turned over immediately.
“How did you do that?” Rick asked.
“It was just a loose cable. I was training to be an auto technician so I knew what to check first.”
“Wow, thanks a lot man,” Rick said, feeling both surprised and grateful.
One morning, Misty’s mother, Sheila Roberts was doing her morning devotions. As a devout Christian, Sheila had long established a habit of having a quiet time with the Lord before she started her day. Her devotional time included reading from her Bible, praying for herself and others as well as remaining quiet and waiting for God to speak to her. Today, Sheila heard the Lord speak to her spirit, “Sheila, I’m going to do a great work in your husband, Lloyd, because I love him very much. I am asking you to include Lloyd in your prayers every day.”
Sheila did not hear an audible voice, but she knew in her heart that she had heard from God. After the incident at the rock concert during the summer, Sheila had been thinking about Lloyd. By this time, she had forgiven Lloyd for allowing his daughters to get involved in a dangerous situation. She had loved Lloyd at one time, but since she became a Christian and Lloyd didn’t, Sheila felt that her husband would have a negative influence on their children. She could not say that Rick was a bad person. In many ways he was a good man, but she could no longer tolerate his immaturity and his harmful addictions. What she really wanted was a godly husband and Lloyd certainly was not. Sheila decided to call her pastor Randy Neufeld to discuss with him what the Lord had told her.
Lloyd Roberts was just waking up from a short nap he had after supper. As be reached for his pack of cigarettes, Lloyd could still remember the dream he had. He was in that zone where he was just coming out of the dream state, but was not yet fully awake. Lloyd was used to having many dreams while he slept, but there was something different about the ones that he had been having lately. His most recent dreams all seemed to have some spiritual or religious theme to them.
A few minutes ago, Lloyd had seen Jesus in his dream holding a little lamb in his arms. The other night he dreamed that he was sitting in a quiet, peaceful location by a stream. When he turned his head he could see a man who looked like Jesus waving for him to walk over to where he was standing. Lloyd scratched hic head before putting on his baseball cap with the Ford logo on it. He had started to notice a bald spot near the top of his head and thought that if he covered it up he wouldn’t have to think about it. What he was now thinking about was the significance of his dreams. His daughter, Sasha had been a Christian for awhile now, but Lloyd was wondering what kind of influence her new boyfriend was having on her beliefs. Lloyd expected Sasha would be home in a little while. He would ask her what she made of his dreams.
Lloyd had recently attained employment as a residential care worker at The Main Street Mission. He found that of the many jobs that he had worked over the years this was probably one of the few that he actually enjoyed. Lloyd liked the street people that he got to know and was starting to feel that his life was finally starting to have some meaning.
Lloyd was beginning to mature as he entered his mid forties. The incident that happened at the rock festival had shaken Lloyd up. It now occurred to him that he had some serious responsibilities as a parent.
Lloyd’s dog, Pigpen started barking loudly while scratching the front door with his paws.
“Hang on. I’ll be right there.” Lloyd hoped that his voice was loud enough to be heard outside the door.
When Lloyd answered the door he was greeted by Misty and Rick and a young man that he did not recognize.
Lloyd moved closer to Rick to give him a hug. “Hey, man, I haven’t seen you in a dog’s age. Pardon the pun, Pigpen.”
“Hey, Dad. I’d like to introduce you to our new friend, Norm. Rick and I just met him tonight at The Sals on Osborne,” Misty said, while brushing some snow off her coat.
“Why don’t you guys park yourselves in the living room while I put on some coffee. I’d offer you guys a beer, but I’ve been on the wagon for awhile now.”
“Yeah, Dad’s been sober for six months now. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous,” Misty said proudly, just before she sat down on the couch.
“At the last AA meeting they gave me my sixth month pin,” Lloyd said proudly as he walked towards the kitchen.
After the coffee had perked Misty brought out a silver tray with the cups, coffee and creamer.
Lloyd sat down in his black recliner.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been around to see you Lloyd. I’ve been keeping a low profile since Sasha and I broke up,” Rick explained.
“That’s what I figured,” Lloyd said. “Well you don’t have to worry about that Rick. Sasha’s cool with it. She says she still likes you, but she has a new boyfriend now. In fact, they’ll probably be here soon. Lloyd then turned his attention to the new guest.
“So how did you get to talking with Rick and Misty?”
“Actually, I first met them on the Osborne Bridge. I was getting ready to jump in the river,” Norm answered.
One day in August Rick walked to the Canada Employment Center to see if he could get some help finding a job. He was two credits short from attaining his high school diploma and realized that with this small amount of course work he would need to at least, get a part time job. At this time, he did not think that he would return to playing hockey for another season. Last year had been much too stressful for him and now he would have a lot of free time on his hands. Rick felt that he would need to get a job to keep his parents happy.
As he entered the employment center Rick was nervous. He had worked one summer at his dad’s printing plant and had a very negative experience while working there. Rick did not yet realize that he lacked the manual dexterity, fine motor skills and spatial reasoning required for most factory jobs.
Rick walked up to the reception desk and was told to pull a number out of a machine. He was directed to take a seat in the waiting room and wait until his number was called.
Rick found an empty seat and took a look around the main floor of the employment center. It was a very drab place that rendered a rather depressing mood. After waiting approximately fifteen minutes Rick heard his name called and was greeted by a young attractive female who asked him to take a seat in her work area. The employment counsellor did not have a closed- in office. Her office space was separated from her co-workers by grey rectangular partitions. This arrangement didn’t give the client any feeling of privacy as one could hear what people in other sectioned off work areas were saying.
The employment counsellor shook hands with Rick and said, “Hello Richard, my name is Arlene Johnson. What can I do for you today?”
“You can just call me Rick. I’m here to find a job.”
“What kind of work are you looking for?”
“I’m not sure,” Rick answered. “I don’t know what kinds of work are available to me.”
“Well, that all depends upon your education and work experience.”
“I’ve got my grade 11 and I’m just two credits shy of my high school diploma. I worked at my dad’s printing plant one summer and I used to have a paper route.
“Do you like working with your hands Rick?”
“Not very much. I’m not very good with my hands.”
“I have to be honest with you. Most of the jobs you could apply for require a grade twelve education and manual dexterity or fine motor skills. We occasionally get referrals from employers for manual labor jobs, but I don’t have any referrals right now,” Arlene said.
Rick was now feeling very uncomfortable. “So I guess you really don’t have anything for me today?”
“Not really. What do you do in your spare time?”
“I play hockey, watch tv, listen to music and read.”
“But you don’t do much work with your hands?”
“No, not really, but I read a lot,” Rick said feeling insulted.
“Listen Rick. Can I be blunt?”
“Yeah,” Rick replied feeling annoyed.
“You need to get your high school diploma and you need to take up a hobby where you have to use your hands. After you do that come back and see me.”
“Thank you for your time,” Rick said as he got up to leave Arlene’s work area. When he got outside Rick lit up a smoke and said to himself, “So that’s that. I’ll go back to school to get my two credits and I’ll play hockey for one more year.”
Episode 102 :
“Man, that class was dynamite!” exclaimed Garry Phelge.
“Yeah, Todd is quite the teacher, isn’t he? asked Wally Standfield.
Both Wally and Garry were sitting on their favorite bench in the courtyard of The Kelowna Mental Health Center enjoying their post class smokes.
“Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think that I would be learning about drama and Shakespeare at in a psych ward,” said Garry Phelge.
“Believe me it wouldn’t be happening if we didn’t have Todd Finlay as one of our workers,” replied Wally Standfield.
“Where did he learn to teach like that?” asked Garry.
The Center was very fortunate to get Todd. Todd was a former high school English teacher. He quit teaching after about five years. Todd couldn’t stand all the paperwork and bureaucracy. Todd just wanted to teach students. He also has a nephew who has schizophrenia. Todd started studying up on schizophrenia on his own. It wasn’t too long after that he read an ad in The Kelowna Sun. The classified ad was for a life coach worker at The Kelowna Mental Health Center. Todd thought that this job might make for an interesting career change for him.
“Wow, acting out Macbeth in drama class. Having us march up and down the halls with our plastic swords and shields yelling, ‘Hail to King Duncan!’”
“That’s our fearless leader, Todd Finlay alright. I’ve been here for a while and I’ve never seen him teach a boring class,” said Wally.
“I guess teaching’s loss was mental health’s gain,” said Garry.
“Not everyone in administration would agree with you. They just can’t figure out why a mental health worker would be teaching drama to his clients. They would prefer that Todd stick to what they call basic life skills training. These administrators think that Todd should stick to classes such as personal hygiene and room care.
“How boring is that?” Garry stated.
“Exactly. I mean Todd teaches those classes too but he even manages to make them interesting by using his wit, creativity and sense of humor.”
to be a viable alternative,” said Dr. Stein.
“No, probably not.”
“I’ll tell you what my take is on your situation. Honestly, Drake when I look at you, the way you dress, the way you talk, your mannerisms, you’re rock and roll. You love to teach, but you hate authority and bureaucracy. This really creates a dilemma for you,” said Dr. Stein.
“Yeah, agreed. So what do I do?”
“Well, I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t go back to teaching in a traditional school division setting. You need to teach in an environment that is non traditional and is unconventional.”
“Where would I find a job like that?” asked Drake.
“There are two types of places that I can think of offhand. One would be to teach in a penal institution and the other would be in some kind of mental health setting,” answered Dr. Stein. In both those environments I think your supervisors would tend to let you do your own thing and would basically see you as the educational expert. You would feel much less pressure to perform according to someone else’s standards and you would be freer to exercise your creativity. My advise to you would be to start contacting some of these institutions to express your interest in teaching there. In fact, I have a friend who supervises a mental health rehabilitation center in The House of Hope. His name is Rick Jennings and I have his contact number. He’s a very nice guy and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind meeting you over a coffee or lunch. Are you interested?”
“Yes, would it be possible for you to introduce me to him?”
“No problem. Why don’t I set up a three way call for you right now?” asked Dr. Stein.
Drake shuffled nervously around in his chair and said, “Yes, go ahead. Thank you, Harvey.”
Dr. Stein picked up the phone and dialed Rick Jenning’s number.
“Hi, Rick. It’s Harvey Stein calling.”
“Hey, how’s it going, Harvey?” said Rick.
“Rick, can I put you on speaker phone? I have a client in my office that I’d like you to talk to. His name is Drake Stephens. His background is in teaching but he’s interested in working in a non traditional setting.”
“Sure put us on speaker phone. You’ve got me interested. I can assure you that this is an unconventional place to work,” said Rick.
“Wow, We sound pretty good together,” said Drake.
“Well, I’m not going to quit my day job just yet, Drake,” said Dr. Stein.
“I don’t blame you,” laughed Drake.
“Well, I think it’s time that we got down to business,” said Dr. Stein. I’ll go over the results of your Strong -Campbell test first Drake. The results are pretty definitive. According to your scores you definitely fit into what is called ‘the helper’ category.”
“What does that mean?”
“It indicates that you like to work with people and to help people. Several professions fall into this category including the ministry, social work, lawyer, teacher and a few others. You score high in all these occupations Drake but your highest score is in teaching. According to the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory you demonstrate a strong interest in any of these occupations but your highest aptitude is for teaching.”
“Oh, great. So I should continue being a teacher?
“Not necessarily. This test just shows that you still have a strong interest in education. Your Myers-Briggs test results indicate that you belong to a personality profile that is not common for a teacher. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be a teacher because there are working teachers with the same personality profile as you. Let’s explore the field of social work. You also have a strong interest in this profession but I can tell that you hate paper work and bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the field of social work has even more bureaucracy and paper work than teaching. For this reason, I wouldn’t think that it’s a good fit for you.”
“So, where do we look next, the ministry?”
“We could. Let’s explore that. Are you a Christian and do you attend church?”
“Yes, to both but I’m a bit irregular in my church attendance,”
“Does that mean that you don’t go to church every Sunday?”
“Yes, I often don’t go to church on Sundays. I might go once per month.”
“Don’t you like church?”
“Sometimes I do, but I’m often bored in church. Most Sundays I’m simply too burned out from my job and feel that I just need to sleep late and take it easy on Sundays,”said Drake.
“I don’t think that sending you to seminary to be trained as a pastor is going to be a viable alternative,” said Dr. Stein.