The work is exhausting, and what little money you get paid can be easily earned elsewhere, so to see kids actually doing the work and giving a shit about the clients is pretty special. I was an idiot when I was 19. Most of you were, too. But these were the hardest working and most compassionate idiots I have ever met.
There's a sweet, hilarious cognitive dissonance to it all. A staff member would help a 55-year-old man wash his hands, then brag to a co-worker about how drunk they got at the club the night before. They would frequently get high at work, and I prevented enough on-the-job sex that I've probably noticeably affected the town's population growth. But they did a job that many older people would be completely unable to handle. And I'm proud of them for that. So here's where I point out that ...
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
I said at the beginning that this piece of land used to be a farm, and a small corner of it still is. Some of the higher-functioning residents tend it; they get fresh food for their meals, and staff will purchase some produce, with the income going towards resident activities. We also have a woodworking shop. We go through a lot of furniture -- you have no idea how badly a couch can get ruined until fully grown men constantly throw themselves onto one. The shop makes futon frames, tables, and chairs, and they do great work.
And to those who question how impressive that is, remember the time you tried to assemble any of those from Ikea.
Part of our job is to teach life skills, and there's something awesome about watching a client pick one up. It may take years, and it may be something as simple as writing his own name, but comparing the client's worksheets from when he started to when he finished is amazing.
The clients will also hold plays and talent shows from time to time, but best of all is Christmas. Local churches will sponsor homes like ours months in advance, and contact us early on to learn our clients' interests, clothing sizes, and so on, so that by the time the 25th rolls around, there are stacks of presents under the tree. We put up decorations that our staff and clients made together, and we'll do what we can to cook a nice Christmas dinner. And I almost ruined the whole damn thing once.
I was a new hire, and I worked the evening shift on Christmas. When I came in, I asked one of the clients how his Christmas was going. He began excitedly showing me his presents, explaining that these were all the gifts Santa had brought him. Because I was new (a term here meaning "dumb"), I almost blurted out, "What do you mean, Santa?"
Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Right as I opened my mouth, what should have been obvious finally clicked in my head, and I managed to bumble out "Oh, right! Santa came!" instead. This man had held an unwavering belief in Santa for over 50 years, and generations of staff members had helped him keep it intact. And one dopey dumbass almost lumbered in and ruined it for him. If the fact that I just narrowly managed to avoid destroying this client's holiday isn't a Christmas miracle, I don't know what is.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook and YouTube, where you can catch all our video content, such as Why You Never Trust People With 'Idea' in Their Job Title and other videos you won't see on the site!
Also be sure to check out I Diagnose Your Diseases: 7 Horrifying Realities and Drugs, Violence, And Soccer: 6 Realities Of Hooliganism.
Have a story to share with Cracked? Email us here.