So What Do YOU Do?
For years I've avoided the question, "What do you do for a living?" The fact is that I was a therapist working with sex offenders who had intellectual disabilities. I've publish some of what's considered ground breaking work in this area and it's work that I find satisfying, interesting and it's work that I think makes a contribution to the lives of those with disabilities and the community. Sue me, I like my work. As years progressed I've moved into other areas of interest but have never left my position with the Sexuality Clinic and as recently as yesterday was there discussing the supports necessary for supporting an offender in the community.
Oh, don't I know that this is controversial stuff when we live in 'hang 'em high' days, but controversy or not the guys I work with deserve treatment and it's really effective treatment too ... measured by real measures - a lack of recidivism. Anyways, that's just the build up. I'd stopped telling people what I do because I never wanted the conversations that followed. People either got angry and railed against offenders or they got so curious that it was creepy.
"Social Work," became my answer because, I discovered, no one really wants to talk to a social worker.
But since being in the wheelchair, when people ask me what I do, I've been toying with giving into the temptation of answering. Probably because they think that I make crafts. I know this to be true because when one woman, in a grocery line up, started chatting with me, she asked if I had a job (not what do you do, but do you have anything to do) and I assured her I did. She said, "Do you make those lovely wooden toys?"
"No," my answer was cold and she knew she'd offened so she shifted her focus to getting groceries out of her buggy.
So yesterday morning when I was asked what I do, I decided to tell the truth (almost), I said, "I do sex therapy with sexual offenders". And she laughed an uncomfortable laugh. Like I was joking. Like I was making it up.
"No, really, that's what I do,"
I met sad eyes, "You know you don't have to be embarrassed about not having work. It's just good that you are up and out like this."
Thus encouraged she moved on.
She'd called me a liar and then gave me a verbal pat on the head and a pitying glance.
Trouble is, I work with folks that would get turned on by that.
• Visit Chewing the Fat