The first call was to the group home manager. One ring.... Two rings....three rings....
"Thank you for calling Mrs. Group Home Manager, I can't come to my phone right now so leave me a message and I'll get back to you."
In one breath, Rhonda spilled it all out. "Hi Mrs. GHM, this is Rhonda. I have a situation. I'm standing at the intersection of Cleveland St. and Abbe Rd. Actually, I'm standing in the middle of the intersection at Cleveland St. and Abbe Rd. Janet got upset. She took off her clothes. She’s naked. NAKED! And she is sitting in the street. Traffic is stopped but I can't budge her. I don't know who else to call so I am going to call the cops. This is not my cell phone so don't call me back at this number. As soon as this is resolved, I'll give you a call. I‘m really sorry. So sorry. I should‘ve just brought my purse."
The second call was to the police.
"Hi. My name is Rhonda and I work for Company X. I have a 40-year-old woman with Down Syndrome that has taken off her clothing and is sitting in the middle of the intersection at Cleveland St. and Abbe Rd. I can't move her by myself, and traffic is getting pretty backed up…Yes ma‘am…Naked. Except for her bra and underwear…Yes, I did try to move her but she‘s very strong…Because she’s mad she didn’t get McNuggets…No, she’s not in immediate danger because traffic has stopped in all directions. But if she takes off again - well, I can‘t guarantee any of our safety."
Then, to Rhonda's dismay - the kind stranger's cell phone battery died. Hopefully the dispatcher had enough information to send the cavalry.
After another 5 or so miserable minutes passed and Janet, who had now long forgotten about the chicken and was now just enjoying the spectacle she had caused, decided to step it up a notch. Off came the bra. But she didn’t take it off normally…she ripped it off Hulk Hogan style. Rhonda tried to block her from the view of others around her but had to back up to avert the spit hurling through the air at her. She tried the sweet approach. She tried the firm approach. She even tried bribing, begging, and pleading. Janet remained planted in the street - sweaty, naked, and angry. Then there it was, Rhonda saw the lights of the cop car approaching. The squad car pulled up and an officer stepped out of the car and started walking toward the scene.
In reality, the officer looked kind of like the high school kid who bags your groceries, but in that moment, Rhonda saw Fabio with his hair blowing in the wind, David Hasselhoff from Baywatch, and Mel Gibson riding in on his horse (Braveheart Mel Gibson, not crazy anti-Semitic Mel Gibson).
"Oooooh!!!! Look Wonda! Cop! Cop!" Janet squealed as she excitedly clapped her hands.
And just like that, Janet stood up and happily waddled over to the man in blue. He sweetly led her by her jiggly, naked hand to the side of the road as Rhonda, somewhat stunned and exasperated, searched the curbs and under the yellow Fiesta for shoes and undergarments.
Sitting in the backseat of the squad car with her legs dangling out of the side, as if she had just stepped out of her morning shower and was dressing on her bed, Janet took her clothes and put them on all by herself. And even though she was completely capable of doing it herself, she shyly asked the cop to tie her shoes for her. Of course he obliged. Of course he melted when she giggled. And he even told her what a pretty young lady she was and what a great job she was doing.
Despite Rhonda’s pleas in the background for him to really throw the book at her, Officer Fabio remained insistent that she should just be taken back to the group home. No handcuffs. No fingerprints. Not even a fake ticket. He sent them on their way with a pat on the head and a “now you behave yourself pretty lady.”
That was the last day that Company X ever allowed group home staff to escort residents with severe behavior issues by themselves. That was also the day Rhonda vowed that as long as there was still breath in her lungs, Janet would never receive chicken nuggets from her again. Unless, of course, it appeared that Janet REALLY wanted them.