Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why NYers are different than the rest of us.

We visited the Big Apple for three days celebrating our anniversary. My antennae were up watching and listening to the sights and sounds of Manhattan. There are no people on Earth like NYers.

When you walk down the street you must keep the pace up or you might get walked over by people moving rapidly, trying to get to and from work. They don't see you or hear you because they all have cell phones stuck in their ears. Everybody's talking business and the adjectives are colorful. Its hard to find an obese person walking on the streets of NYC unless they are visitors. I guess that's because of the daily challenges of getting to and from their jobs using the subway.

I still haven't figured out the layout of Manhattan and probably never will. Its hard to fake out that you really don't know where you are and how to get to where you're going. However my handy-dandy iPhone, with its map app helps a whole lot, along with Geri's subway map (which as a REAL guy I refuse to use!) I wonder how the iPhone knows that you're walking because the directions are for walking, not driving.

You want to know why NYers are aggressive people? Just try to get a cab without running out in the middle of the street and stopping one of those Yellow Monsters with your hand. With enough of that action they ought to give you a Black Belt in Ti Quon Cabbie!

Every NY guy wears a business suit. They don't wear sports jackets and slacks. Why is this? There is no dress-down Friday in NYC.

Every guy with an unshaven beard, diamond earring, jeans below his hips and $150 Addidas basketball shoes is a plain-clothes cop. How do I know this? Because when they walk past you it sounds like they're talking to themselves until you hear the conversation about what a certain perpetrator looks like and where he can be found. The heavy metal object sticking out from under his tie-dyed-T-shirt is another give-a-way (I gotta stop using all these hyphens).

I don't want to totally bash NYC and NYers because we had a great time during our stay. Most NYers were very nice. In fact we were standing by the subway entrance trying to figure out where to catch a certain train when a guy stopped and asked if he could help us. After he explained how and where to go I had a better appreciation of the home-towners. Was I supposed to give him a tip?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Rainman" Revisited

A few years back I took a substitute teacher job in a Special Education self-contained class in a local high school. I wasn't sure what to expect so I stayed open-minded until I saw what I was in for. The class was in the (FALS) Functional Academic Learning Support program. These are kids who stay in a self-contained environment for Reading and Math, then go to other subjects as Inclusion students (Phys Ed, Art, Foods) then return after lunch to the FALS classroom for Socialization skills.

I really enjoyed my experience that day. A few days later I was asked if I'd consider a long-term sub position in that class while the teacher was on maternity leave. I thought about it for a while and accepted the job. It was supposed to be for 8 weeks but turned out to be 11. I bonded with those kids and enjoyed every day with them.

Now there's a different teacher in the class, just as committed to these kids as the previous one. He calls me each time he needs a sub and I look forward to being with the kids.They stay in the program, if necessary, until they are 21. Those who can function well enough can move to another level at a local university. They think they are in college but it's actually an extension of the same environment they've been in before.

Ricardo is now 18 years old. He is one of my favorites. I spend a lot of time trying to help him in Reading and Math but his ability and comprehension levels keep him at a rather stationary stage. He can't work much with any Arithmetic beyond single digit numbers. Recently his teacher decided to let him use a calculator some of the time so he's not so frustrated. In Reading, I mostly read to him and he enjoys that. Twice weekly the kids go out to work experiences at local businesses who cooperate with the program. Ricardo was a bagger at a grocery store. He loved it! I remember one day while waiting for him to get back on the bus he came out of the door waving dollar bills in his hand. He was so proud of the fact that people were giving him a tip for helping to bag their groceries. He yelled at me, "Look Coach, they gave me money!"

David is closer to 21 and tried the college experience for a while but could not function in it very well so he's back in the FALS program in high school. He is more functional then most of the kids. He can go home on his own and even takes public transportation to sports events where he meets his father. He remembers everyone's birthday. Whenever I ask him mine he nails it every time. Problem is he needs so much attention that some businesses ask that he not return because he requires so much attention. He asks a question about every 15 seconds.

Bobby will be trying out for the next sequel of "Rainman". I love Bobby. He talks a mile a minute and has a smile on his face 24/7. Some of his functions need constant reminders so I set up a special "Code Red" between him and me to remind him when to visit the rest room. Bobby stays out in the hall and directs traffic during class changes so other students aren't late to their next class. They all "high 5" him as they pass by. While we waited for the bus after his work experience, he and I set up a radio show on the steps of a pet store. His job there was to clean the front of the aquariums. Bobby did the weather and I did the sports. I would introduce him as our on site weatherman and ask him what his prediction would be for the day. He always answered the same way.... "Nice". Bobby and I had lots of fun with that schtick and the other kids with us really enjoyed his "reports". I was always hoping the bus would be late so we could keep doing our radio show.

So this is a small sample of the kids I work with when I sub in this program. To tell you the truth, I'd do it for nothing if the County could no longer pay for subs. I love these kids.