Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Happily Making a Mess of Things

For those of you who have been following the antics of the kingdom for any amount of time, you will know that Happy has a knack for flying low on the radar, and cycling through some pretty mild, and often time funny offenses, which typically end up all coming to light at the same time, creating a hot mess for him all at once.

Here is some background on Happy for those of you that need to catch up.  He is 20 and is scheduled to graduate high school this May.  Due to his special needs, the Prince and I have full legal guardianship of him for life, which means we are responsible for the decisions in his life that require forethought, finances and health related choices.  At this stage in the game that includes, juggling school responsibilities, work related activities, social issues and his finances.  Happy is gainfully employed at a local grocery store as a bagger, and part of the cleaning crew on nights that he closes.

Let's rewind to early last week.  Happy's last scheduled shift at work for the week was on Tuesday. At his paying job.  I did not think twice about it because the schedule is released for the upcoming week on Wednesday's and so the potential for him be schedule for later in the week or the weekend was good.  Due to his school schedule and his "on the job training program",  he is required to work 15 hours a week at his real paying job, but then he also  "works" while at school three periods a day, to gain experience for this resume.  Through this program over the last 3 years he has held jobs as a dish washer, a supply gatherer for a hospital, a retail clerk at the goodwill, a maintenance man at the YMCA and most recently as a janitor at the school.  In addition, because he is typically a great worker, these on the job volunteer experiences have lead to paid employment as a dish washer and his current gig as a bagger at a local grocery store.

It is typical that Happy cycles through his behavioral issues about every six to eight weeks.  Sadly, most often, the staff and administration at his school and place of employment are a bit slow to report incidents and situations to us, which I believe causes Happy to think he is "getting" away with things and so he often ends up spiraling in a downward trend with his behaviors until one of the other groups of adults in his life has had enough and they contact us, or we start to pick up the clues that he is leaving behind (like 5 days of being off work) and start reaching out ourselves to his employer and the school.

Last week I was dropped a big clue that something was amiss when Happy's job coach called to say that he was missing from his school work placement, and had been for almost 40 minutes.  This incident however alone, did not alarm me at the time.

It seems that day, Happy was angry because he had to go to his old job placement the morning at the YMCA due to circumstances out of his control, and that made him upset.  Of course instead of using his words to express himself, he waited until he got to the Y, and then helped himself to the gator keys off the office key rack and went on a drive about. 

He toured the facility and then headed over to the school grounds and down to the pond, which is where they found him 40 minutes later.  When questioned about his antics, he reported that he was picking up trash, however there was not trash in the gator, and he indicated he did not see what the big deal was.   Here is where that lack of forward thinking enters as a problem for Happy.  It never occurred to him that he could not "help himself" to the gator (which is owned by the Y) and disappear without asking permission, taking an adult with him, or telling someone where he would be.  He did not like that fact that everyone was in his business, and could not understand that had he wrecked the gator, or he had been injured while in the gator no one would know where to find him.  When the staff at school, work, and vocational rehab tried to point these things out to Happy , things got a bit heated and so the overall incident lasted about 2 1/2 hours that day. 

Last week it took me until Thursday to notice that there were no shifts at the grocery store for Happy on the house work calendar until Monday, giving Happy six days off work. I questioned the dwarf before he left for school that day and he told me that since snow bird season is over, they are not that busy and they are cutting everyone's hours.  While that sounded like a legitimate scenario, he is still required (and they agreed to the contract) 15 hours of work a week.  I processed the oddity of that, and then contacted his job coach and asked her to investigate.   And this is where the wheels really started falling off the bus for Happy.

It seems that he has had some exciting days at work in the last two weeks.   He was cited for eating ice cream bars while using the floor cleaning machine at closing.  A big no-no, because if you do not keep both hands on the machine and run off the course you could clear whole shelves of product or take out entire end cap displays.  In addition to that write up, he was also cited for bringing the electric carts in from the lot, riding them while using his feet instead of his hands to drive them.  I suppose it never occurred to him that his foot could slip and he could veer into a parked car, or loose control in any other fashion....

Additionally he has been refusing to offer to push customers groceries to their cars and load them for them.  This is a service that the grocery offers at no cost, but for some reason as social as Happy is, this is not a task that he enjoys at all, so he just refuses to offer it while bagging.

After this quick report from his job coach, I figured it was now time to take things into my own hands and contact the store myself.  Little did I know there was yet one more surprise Happy incident awaiting me.

As I started talking to Happy's supervisor, which has changed since his original hire, I immediately recognized that she has no idea about Happy, his disabilities and the Prince and my guardianship of him.  I went through the normal speech indicating that if they do not keep us updated immediately about situations with Happy, that we are not able to back them up, reinforce what they are trying to enforce, and in the long run, we are setting Happy up for failure, where if we all partner together, he has more of a chance at success.  I found out in regards to the incidents, they did have the male store manager sit with him and have a stern discussion, and since that time, he has been tracking better, but again I reminded her that they can contact us and we can be present for those meetings, or if they had let us know about the first incident, perhaps the others could have been avoided.

Now during the conversation, I was assuming that Happy's hours had been so drastically cut as part of his consequences of poor choices and bad behaviors.  You know, like a week on the street without pay.  That, she assured me was not the case.  It seems that Happy, who was upset with his availability, and the fact that he is not allowed to change it himself (without the Prince or I's permission) or request his own time off from his job, took matters into his own hands by writing a letter  and sending it to the corporate Human Resources offices, in effect lodging a formal complaint against his current managers. 

The result of his letter of complaint, was that he got to adjust his availability.  He made himself available from 6-10 M, T, Th, F, and Sat.   This is not a shift time that they have.  So he essentially made himself not ever available for a shift at the store. 

Have no fear, I corrected that immediately for them.  He is available every day of the week after 1:30 PM except Wednesdays.   We also shared with Happy that with graduation less than a month away, he better get used to the idea of working 30 plus hours a week.  I think he is still processing that nugget of information.

You really just can't make this stuff up!

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