THE DAY STARTED out pretty calmly. I met my field instructor and instantly liked her. She told me I'd be accompanying another worker to court this morning. I was excited. The case involved an autistic child who had sustained injuries while under his parent's care.
After the judge ruled that the child would be removed from his home, we headed back to the office. My companion got on her cell phone, and I tried to sort it out in my head. I thought about the days to come, and I am grateful we only get one day at a time.
Tonight when we got home, my husband and I went out for a sandwich. We were finishing our dinner when we were interrupted by a server's harsh voice as she yelled at, and then chased a man from the doorway. He was trying to get a light for his cigarette.
Startled by the server's reaction to the man, I observed him as he stood outside the glass windows of the restaurant. He stood unusually erect and his head jerked about like a nervous bird. My rule-out diagnosis? Schizophrenia.
A young man from the kitchen headed toward the front door with a book of matches, but a woman beat him to it as she emerged from the parking lot to light the man's smoke. The young man handed him the matches and returned to the kitchen. Wishing I'd had matches for the man, I said to the young man, "That was very kind of you."
I asked the server where the man was from and she snorted, "Around. He's ..." (she made circles with her pointer finger at the side of her head, signifying that she thought he was crazy). I wanted to say something to her, perhaps to enlighten her, but I didn't have it in me. And, it's probably best that I didn't.
As we left the restaurant, we walked past the man and wished him a nice evening. His face burst into a big smile.
But for the grace of God go I...
~Ms. T. J.
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