Oh No He Didn’t


Life certainly can throw us a shock or two at times.  We think we know someone’s character either because of the way the person has presented him or herself, or because we may have known the person to be a certain way for a long time.  Our observations and assertions may then be suddenly flipped upside down.  I know because I’ve experienced a few of these incredulous heart stopping revelations about people I thought I knew.

Just as this year began, a man I’d known through work for over thirty years was arrested.  This man, whom I’ll refer to only by his first name, Dave, was one of the last people I could ever imagine being arrested for anything.  But what he did was particularly egregious.

Our field of work is actually a field of service to people who have cognitive impairments.  They are entrusted to us, plain and simple.  I met Dave in 1980 when I began working in a group home.  He seemed to have a special knack for understanding the people we assisted.  I soon viewed Dave as a valuable source of intelligent and very caring methodology for how to understand and effectively work with the folks in the group home.

Dave was like a quiet genius.  He didn’t seem comfortable speaking in large groups.  His  face frequently reddened whenever he asserted his dry sense of humor.  Both Dave and his wife also had a solid religious foundation.  He had gone to a local bible college.  She had found comfort in God through a difficult childhood. 

Their lives not only centered around the bible, but they had managed group homes for twenty-seven years.  This is a selfless life.  I know because I managed a group home for twenty months, or should I say the group home managed me.  Such managers are on call continually.  If a resident needs to be rushed to a doctor, the manager must stop whatever he or she is doing to take that resident to get medical help asap. Not to mention staff calling in sick nor their frequent calls regarding trivial things such as “can I substitute green beans for peas tonight?” 

Managers are also under biennial state inspections which are very scrupulous.  These inspections, called on-sites, are more like inquisitions.  The inspectors comb through files to make sure protocol has been strictly adhered to or else.  Dave and his wife always passed with flying colors.  They were held up in shining light to other group home managers, much like class valedictorians, or star athletes. 

So I was floored when I learned that this highly regarded man of great character had been embezzling money from the very people he was entrusted to help.  Surely if personal shock can really be measured in waves, this would have shook my house down.  We used to have a saying amongst ourselves as staff that it was bad enough to steal, but stealing from clients would be particularly abhorent.  I don’t understand how Dave could have crossed this ethical line.  What went awry in his hard- wired moral compass?  How could he do this? 

I have since found out that Dave stole the money to pay for a gambling addiction.  He had become so trusted with handling client funds, that he probably discovered he could pilfer a little and no one would be any wiser.  The little pilfering grew over time, I would imagine.  I don’t know what he must have told himself as he was stealing the money from such a  vulnerable group of people.  But he will have plenty of time to possibly feel remorseful as he tries to figure out why he went down such a dark path.  Dave will have all this time because he’s been imprisoned for nineteen months.  How could you have done this, Dave? 

About andreamarjulie

Just trying to navigate a life circumvented by chronic migraines. Sometimes I write about managing with those, but at other times I am prone to deviate a bit.
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