A Convo with Your Highness

January 27, 2008 at 11:26 am | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket, Working | 3 Comments

In any given week, I have to hassle this one client of mine innumerable ways.  Since I’ve started working with him, I’ve said the following: put your hair in cornrows, nobody hires a kid with a gigantic Afro; take off the do-rag; pull up your pants; don’t say the N-word; stop pissing off the GED teacher; take off your headphones, and on and on.

But last week, I had a conversation that I never thought I’d have.  Your Highness was amped because he was coming to get his taxes done for what he earned at his summer job, and he made me promise I’d be at work to receive him.  We do free taxes for low-income residents of the Bucket and our first night was this Wednesday.  He sauntered in just at 8:30 and there were about ten kids from his high school there just finishing up a meeting. 

Your Highness was incredibly ripped, and the first thing I said to him was, “Dude, open your eyes!!”  He tried to open his bloodshot eyes a little bit, but with the combination of the bright, fluorescent lights and the fact that he probably had half a blunt’s worth of smoke in his lungs, his attempt was half-hearted at best.

I partly found his state hysterically funny, but I was also somewhat annoyed that he chose to get cartoon-high just before showing up where I work.

I presume that my proper “social worker lady” role is to denounce any and all forms of drug use, no matter what my personal take on the matter is.  But I can’t in good conscience take the “Just Say No” stance on pot-smoking, no matter what my professional responsibility is.

So first thing the next day, I went to visit him where he takes his GED classes.  He had ended early, so I offered to drop him off on the way to my office.

My “social worker lady” talk went horribly awry in the first few minutes.  I asked him if he realized that he smelled like he went swimming in bong water before coming to the center, and just before I said bong water, he chimes in with “swimming in a reefer pool?”  Yes, Your Highness…swimming in a reefer pool is an excellent analogy, especially because I don’t if people even use bongs anymore, what with the prevalence of the Dutch Masters. 

I brought up the fact that many employers give drug tests before hiring, and we talked a bit about drug tests.  I asked if he smoked daily, and he told me: “No, not daily, but just about everyday.”  Um, Your Highness, daily means just about every day.  He giggled and said I was right. 

He told me that he’d thought about quitting, but that there’s nothing better to do and pot is everywhere.  I suggested that he perhaps cut down a bit, if only to be able to pass a drug test, rather than stop altogether. 

By now he’s looking at me like I’ve just sprouted horns. 

I conclude my half-arsed anti-drug talk by suggesting that he hydrate himself well in the event that someone requests that he pee in a little cup.  I shut myself up before telling him that the people who work at medical clinics that do drug tests tend to find it suspicious when someone’s pee is as clear as tap water, and that one needs to do some fast-talking to explain why. 

I wonder what he took away from this little convo.  I’ve no problem with telling someone that crack is whack or that crystal meth rots your teeth and makes you want to steal car rims, but I can’t do the same for reefer.  Hell, most of my friends piss seeds and stems, to paraphrase my beloved David Sedaris.

How could I have handled this better?



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  1. How CAN you? I mean, he isn’t going to stop because you tell him to. It’s unfortunate but it’s reality, and it does seem sorta hypocritical when we ourselves have done it. But the difference is, in my opinion, that we probably grew up with a different kind of role model, in a different social setting – all my friends were smoking pot along with me, but I didn’t for once think that my future didn’t hold a well-paying job, and I knew what my priorities were as a result of that. Perhaps the place to start would be seeing what kind of future he could have with the kind of work he would be interested in doing, and where that could lead his future. In your line of work I am quite sure this is what you are doing, and it has to be clear to him that you care, but I guess where he goes with that would be his decision.

    I guess I’m glad I am an escrow officer and not a social worker as I probably wouldn’t be that great at it…

  2. I did tell him that responsible adults wait until AFTER they get their shit done to get high, or at least hide it better. Wise words, huh?

    This kid’s going to be okay…he’s a smart one.

    It’s al about immediate gratification where these kids live…it’s hard to see a positive future when no one around you is successful.

  3. […] Your Highness and I took a little field trip to register him for his first GED exam and he was to stick around after filling out the paperwork to take his first exam.  He decided that he couldn’t wait the 45 minutes until the test all by himself, so we argued about whether I was going to take him home for a while.  He assured me that he’d have a ride to get back, but I was doubtful and told him that if he missed the test then I’d “hunt him down and murder him.”  […]

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