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My second visit to UCP was just as rewarding as the first but for entirely different reasons. Unlike the first time, there were not many people in that day becasue of weather problems, so it created a much smaller and more intimate atmosphere. I arrived when the UCP participants were still eating there lunch co it gave me some time to talk to the workers. I spent a half an hour talking with this one woman (her name escapes me at the moment) who was telling me all about her different experiances in working in this field. She had previosly worked at four different homes, all of which were for only women. She expressed her passion for working in the field of disbilities but also expressed much frustration with the fudning, salary, and lack of recogntion. She kept using the example of hollywood stars. Her point was that a hollywood star with a beautiful face can make a socially insignificant movie and yet make millions of dollars and be deemed as one of the most powerful people in the media. But, then someone like herself, who has spent her entire working career helping people with disabilities become more integrated into society, and recieves a very low pay check. However, her point that stuck with me was that you cannot enter this field with any desire to “make-it” financially, it is watching someone who is told by society that they are on the outside, accomplish tasks and grow into a much more self-sufficient person. In her words “If you don’t got the passion, ya’ need to find the exit sign now.” After this very enlightening conversation I spent the next hour working on a 2000 piece puzzle with a woman named Patty. Patty is a dwarf that can no longer walk on her own and must be in a wheelchair. At first glance, she seems as though she has noc apability to talk or interact, but after a little time with her, you find out how wrong you are. After sitting for only a few minutes, Patty started talking to me about her nails. She was saying how much she needed a manicure because her nails were looking terrible and she hates when her nails look bad. She then went on to compliment my necklace and we spent the rest of the puzzle talking about jewlwery. After the puzzle, we decided to join Jess (another UCP participant) in making scrap books. Jess is an extermly hyper active young woman and demands a lot of attention. As Jess was holding the glue stick and would not put it down so Patty could use it, Patty turned to me and whispered, “That girl is crazy!” To me this was one of the funniest and most shocking things I have evr heard! To have an individual that is deemed as “crazy” by societal norms tell me that another girl who is also labeled as “crazy”, is in fact crazy, was almost too much for me to handle. I spent my entire time with Patty that day, learning about her but moreso learning how wrong and difficult it is not judge someone else.
As mentioned before, this day made a huge impact upon me. I realized how ingrained judgement is in my head. Patty, truly opened my eyes to see how people are really not what they appear to be. We are taught not to judge people by what they look like, we are fed movies and pictures and Television programs that negate these teachings, by creating comedy out of other peoples “flaws”, yet this woman rmade me stop and analyze how I interpret people and things around me. I had more fun with Patty than I do most “normal” people not because I found it amusing to watch or listen to her because of her disabilities, but because she is a funny and intelligent women. She has the same needs and desires as all of us “normates” yet I never really realized how”normal” a person with disabilities can be! This day enlightened me of the struggles of working in this field but also about what it must be like to be constantly misjudged everyday of your life.
My day with Patty reminded me of Chick. He is a character that does not appear to be what he is. He appears to be normal yet feels constant suffereing because of his “specialty.” Patty appears to not be normal and sufferes everyday because inside she is. The idea of the other, the otherside of a person, the side that most people never take the time to look for and know, this is what Patty made me aware of and this is what I feel chick must have felt like to some extent. It is kind of amusing though, that a person like Chick, who possess this innate disability and feels ostrazied becasue of it, would be percieved as more normal than someone like Patty who on the inside posess such normal qualities yet would never be viewed as normal by society.