Mar. 15, 2007

How to Tell If You're a Participant or a Staff (A Handy Guide for Day Programs)

by David Moreau

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Poem: "How to Tell If You're a Participant or a Staff (A Handy Guide for Day Programs)" by David Moreau from You Can Still Go to Hell and Other Truths About Being a Helping Professional. © Moon Pie Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

How to Tell If You're a Participant or a Staff (A Handy Guide for Day Programs)

If you have a bowel movement at work and no one records it in a
communication book — you're a staff person.

If someone shouts at you from the other side of the room, Did you
wash your hands
? every time you come out of the bathroom — you're a participant.

If your feet don't quite touch the ground when you're sitting in one of
the cafeteria chairs — you're a participant.

If you know where the candy is in Jolene's office — you're a staff

If you can run out to Subway or Burger King for your lunch — you're a staff person.

If you're in a wheelchair — you're a participant.

If you get a buzz cut every staff day — you're a participant.

If you've never ridden in the back seat of the van — you're a staff

If you can walk in the office without being asked, Where are you
supposed to be?
— you're a staff person.

If the soap dispenser is on the side of the sink opposite your one good
hand and you can't reach high enough to keep the automatic faucet
from getting your sleeve wet — you're a participant.

If you can give a hug without someone telling you, Remember circles
you're a staff person.

If you go out for cigarette breaks — you're a staff person.

If your paycheck is for $1.82 — you're a participant.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of biographer Richard Ellmann, (books by this author) born in Detroit, Michigan (1918). His father and both of his brothers were lawyers, but he decided to study literature at Yale. He became interested in William Butler Yeats, and at the end of World War II he went to Dublin to do some research. And that was where he became interested in James Joyce. Ellmann began reading all of Joyce's works and researching his life. He spent 10 years tracking down documents and interviewing friends of Joyce, and in 1959 he published a biography, James Joyce. It won the National Book Award in 1960, and it's been called the greatest literary biography ever written.

He spent the last 20 years of his life working on a biography of Oscar Wilde. He suffered from Lou Gherig's disease and pneumonia during the last few months of his life, but he continued to work on the biography on his deathbed, using special machines to type out revisions. Oscar Wilde was published in 1986.

It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer Ben Okri, (books by this author) born in Minna, Nigeria (1959). He spent his early childhood in England, then went back to Nigeria until 1977, when he moved back to London. He lived for a time in subway stations and with friends. He published more novels and short stories, but he didn't really get much attention until his novel The Famished Road came out in 1991. It's about a Nigerian child who hovers between the real world and the world of spirits, and it describes the horrible poverty and oppression in modern Nigeria. The Famished Road won the Booker Prize for Britain's best novel of 1991.

Okri said, "Literature doesn't have a country. Shakespeare is an African writer. ... The characters of Turgenev are ghetto dwellers. Dickens' characters are Nigerians. ... Literature may come from a specific place, but it always lives in its own unique kingdom."

It's the birthday of the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, (books by this author) born in the Waxhaws Region of South Carolina (1767). He was first president of the United States who could honestly claim to have pulled himself up by his own bootstraps. Before him, all the presidents had come from distinguished or aristocratic families along the East Coast. Jackson was born in poverty in the backwoods frontier, and he received almost no formal education.

The Battle of New Orleans turned him into a national hero, and when he ran for president in 1828, he portrayed himself as a champion of the common man and appealed to working-class voters, especially frontiersmen who were settling in the West. The election drew more than three times as many voters to the polls as the previous election, and Jackson won in a landslide.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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