How many of us remember the first time we got paid for doing something? I remember mine as if it were yesterday. I was about 8 years old, and I was paid to pick beetles off my grandmother’s rose bushes.
I recruited my friend, and we were paid piece rate, a penny per beetle. In those days three cents was a peanut butter cup! We made out great!
Last week, I visited our Yellow Springs location as the individuals we support were getting ready to go home for the weekend. I met Robert, his roommate, and reconnected with their direct support staff member, Mohammed. Robert is grieving the loss of his friend, Michael. He has been wondering who his new friend will be. He wanted to know if I was a new caseworker. I told him I was a really “big cheese boss,”. We both had a nice laugh about that. He told me he liked to create art. I told him he could sell me something. He then turned to Joan Hanley and told her that he would also make her something to buy. He caught on pretty quick that there could be cash in art. Mohammed said they would get the supplies over the weekend.
We walked out together to the van. Robert was enjoying the conversation and didn’t really want to leave. I had my hand on his back to support him forward. As we got the car door, I told him to have a nice weekend. Joan assured him she would see him on Monday. He quickly turned to face us to make a speech, wishing us, in his own words, a nice weekend. I said, “Robert, you are so sweet!” He smiled his biggest smile of the conversation and said, “I am sweet!”
I walked away wondering if Robert learned that Friday was the day you can be paid for doing something you love. I wondered how many people in our community understand Robert’s need to contribute and earn a dollar. I wonder what new art will be coming to my office. And, I wonder what he will charge me?