We start today's tale off in Elyria, Ohio. Rhonda, a very kind and nurturing woman with a good head on her shoulders, arrived at work one morning and made the observation that one of her favorite group home residents had a dental appointment later that afternoon. The resident, who's name was "Janet", didn't typically care for medical appointments of any kind, but Rhonda WAS her favorite - she never gave Rhonda any sort of problems. After all, Rhonda was the one that bathed her, made her dinner, gave her necessary medication, trimmed her toenails, changed her sheets when she peed the bed at night, and taught her new and exciting skills like counting pennies and how to not flip over couches and chairs when she got angry. Yeah, things would be fine.
Carefully laying out a game plan, Rhonda stocked her bag with healthy snacks, tricky puzzles, and Janet's favorite - Bert and Ernie books. "The key to any successful outing is successful planning." That was Rhonda's motto. Always prepared for whatever her clients could throw at her.
At 3 o'clock, Rhonda went to the adult education center and went in to sign Janet out for the rest of the day.
"Wooooondaaaa!" Janet exclaimed when she saw Rhonda walk into her classroom. "Wonda, what do you want here?"
Rhonda sat down next to Janet and explained to her in a gentle and slightly overly excited voice that she GOT to go and get her teeth cleaned today and get some stickers afterwards! Oh, Janet was overjoyed. She was well over 300 pounds but at that moment, she moved like a cat. She rushed around the room and within minutes, Janet had her hat, coat, folder, and lunchbox in hand and was ready to go.
Rhonda and Janet cruised the Elyria streets, listening to Janet's favorite - Elvis. The local high school was just releasing students, so there were teenagers everywhere. Janet would occasionally stop singing and point at a long haired high school girl, exclaiming, "Ooooh - she pretty" or "Uh oh, she bad."
The sun was shining, the sultry sounds of Elvis Presley were filling the air, the kids were out of school, and above all - Janet was happy.
Then things took a turn for the worse.
It all started when those dreadful golden arches showed themselves on the horizon. "Wonda - I want McNuggets." Rhonda calmly explained to her that they were on their way to a dental appointment and that there was no time for eating out. "How about a cereal bar or some grapes, Janet? I have some of those for you." Rhonda didn't hear a response but knew that her offer had been denied by the low guttural growls coming from the back seat combined with the observation that the van was swaying back and forth because of Janet's rocking. Her heart began to race. Janet was a big girl. Rhonda new that one false move and things could get ugly pretty quickly.
"Hey Janet! Guess who I saw on TV this morning!?" Despite the lack of response, she continued. "Bert and Ernie! Bert was really upset with Ernie because he kept playing his bugle while Bert was trying to sleep. It was great. Have you seen that one?"
"I want nuggets now Wanda." Rhonda searched her brain for a solution to the problem. Janet was known to have extreme and sometimes violent reactions to disappointment, and that was the last thing She was looking to deal with today. And by the look on Janet's face, it was going that way. Quickly, she scanned the parking lot and observed that there was hardly any line in the drive-thru. If she acted fast, they could still get some nuggets and make it to the dentist on time. She made a quick left turn into the driveway and pulled up to the ordering window. "One, 4 piece McNugget please."
Cheers erupted from the back seat. Rhonda slumped in her drivers seat knowing that another disaster had been averted.
"That'll be $1.19 please" the depressed teenager said from drive-thru window #1.
Just then, all of the blood drained from Rhonda's face. Her heart sped up again, and small beads of sweat began to form on her upper lip. She had no money. She intentionally left her purse at work so that she wouldn't have to carry it around. She began insulting herself in her own mind. "Sooo stupid. That was so dumb. Why would you do that?!" But it was done. She had to get hold of herself and make this situation work. She sheepishly apologized to the girl and slowly pulled out of line and headed towards the intersection again.
"Uhhhh, Janet? I'm sorry honey but I didn't have enough money. We can go out after we get home and I'll take you to get some nuggets then, O.K.?" But it was too late. Before Rhonda could react, she heard the sound of squeaking seat vinyl and felt a rush of wind move past her head. One glance in the rear view mirror confirmed her worst fear - Janet was on the move.
Just then Rhonda heard the van door slide open. She threw the vehicle into Park and swung around to see what was going on. Janet was speed-waddling straight toward the road. With her adrenaline pumping and her super-ninja group home skills finely tuned, Rhonda flung open the door and took off toward her client. Car horns began to beep as Janet crossed into the busy 5 way intersection. Frantic, Rhonda reached out and grabbed Janet's wrist but it was too late. They were in the middle of the road - cars were annoyed on all sides, and Janet and dropped to the ground. She was on her back, throwing a full blown 2 year old temper tantrum complete with kicking, spitting, and screaming.
Rhonda was beside herself. Things could not be any worse. Her cell phone was in the van, Janet was too big for her to physically move by herself. There was no one around to help. Then the situation got even worse. Janet stood up. For a brief second, Rhonda thought that she had mended her ways and was going to calmly come back to the car. No such luck. Janet then kicked both of her shoes into the street, hitting a yellow Ford Fiesta with one of them. But that wasn't the bad part. Despite Rhonda's feeble attempts to prevent it, within seconds, Janet had stripped down to only her bra and very large underwear. And then she sat back down (this time Indian style) in the middle of the road.
Stay tuned for Pt. 2 of the Janet files.