Hazards of Social Work: Flat Tires

In February 2012 I went to a home visit in the middle of nowhere.  Most of my families live in the middle of nowhere.  This particular nowhere required a lot of manuevering around potholes, taking sharp curves, and watching out for random, large animals meandering in the streets.  Again, that describes much of this area.

Anyway, I arrived at the home and the foster father warned me that the child was being very defiant.  I asked what he meant by defiant.  Foster father said that the child cussing and throwing things.  I asked if anything could have triggered the behaviors.  He didn’t know.

I entered the home and could immediately sense the tension.  He was angry.  I asked him what was wrong.  He said he didn’t know how to spell his spelling words.  I asked him which word he needed to spell first.  He said “work”.  I asked, “How do you think ‘work’ is spelled?”  “W-O-R-C.”  I told him he almost had it.  I asked if he knew a word that sounded like work.  He said, “Yeah. Fuck.”  “Okay,” I said, “those both end with the same letter.  They don’t really rhyme though.  How about fork?  They don’t rhyme but they’re spelled almost the same.  Do you know how to spell ‘fork’?”  “F-O-R-K.”  “Right, I said.  Now since you know that work and fork are spelled almost the same way, can you spell ‘work’ for me?”  “W-O-R-C.”  **deep sigh**  “How about we try a different word and come back to that one?”  “Dad said I have to finish this before I can play x-box,” he cried.  “Well learning is very important.  And doing homework comes before playing,” I said gently.  At that point he screamed.  He just opened his mouth and belted out a loud yell.  He lifted both of his arms onto the table and side-swiped his books and papers onto the floor.

He got up and retrieved his shoes.  “Where are you going,” someone asked.  “For a walk,” he replied.  We let him go into the yard and for a long time he just walked around kicking the ground.  I discussed his behaviors with the foster parents.  I told them that I needed to call my supervisor and let him know what was happening.  I had, unfortunately, left my cell phone at home.  I borrowed one from the foster parents.

As I was on the phone with my supervisor the child decided he was going to run away.  He walked down the hill and onto the road.  He had a large branch in his hands.  The state worker was just arriving at the home.  She saw the child walking down the road and stopped to ask him where he was going (I assume that’s what she asked.  I couldn’t really hear the conversation).  He took the branch and started hitting the vehicle.  He suddenly dropped the brach and ran back up to the house.

His face was wet with tears and snot.  He went to the bathroom.  When he came into the kitchen no one said a word.  He stated crying again saying that he was sorry and to please, please not send him away.  Because of our concern for his mental health we decided to take him to the emergency room for a psychological evaluation.  The state worker took him in her vehicle and I followed.

While on the way to the hospital I hit a humongous pothole.  And I hit it so hard that I busted both tires on the passenger side.  The road was dark and narrow.  I couldn’t just stop there and put one spare on my car.  Now my turn to cry had come.  I slowly drove my vehicle another two miles to the parking lot of the hospital.  I had to pull myself together before going inside.  I scrounged around for change knowing I’d need to use the pay phone (if they had one).

I got inside and met the state worker to discuss the next step regarding the child.  She presumed that he would need to return to the psychological hospital from which he had come prior to being placed with this foster family.  I agreed.  This little guy needed specialized care.  The state worker went back to be with the child during the evaluation.

I headed to the pay phone (my heart filled with thanks that a pay phone was available).  I called my boyfriend, crying.  I had to take several deep breaths to calm down so that he could understand that I needed him to come get me from the hospital and that we’d have to figure this shit out tomorrow.  At this point it was 10pm.  No car store was open.  I didn’t have AAA.  My parents would’ve been asleep.

He came and got me and the next day we returned.  He replaced one tire with the spare and we took it to get replaced.  We returned to the vehicle and put the new tire on and replaced the other flat with the spare.  Unfortunately the second tire’s rim was bent.  I was very glad that only was rim was bent.  I called my dad and told him the story.  He told me that he would buy me a new rim.  A couple days passed before the new rim came so I had to drive around on a spare.

Because I was working when the flat tires incident occurred I was hoping that I would be compensated.  Nope.  Not their problem.  That was a very costly work trip.

Recommendation: have road side assistance of some kind available for such incidents.


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