Freddie expected the CNA’s to unconditionally wait on him even after he’d shown the capability of performing a given task. For example, he easily navigated his wheelchair to the liquor store but took for granted that a CNA would happily drag his drunken ass to the shower room when the stench of his soap-deprived body became unbearable. If anyone questioned the annoying lack of effort he put into taking care of himself, he bellyached like a petulant child: “But I be all crippled up.” Sometimes he’d also remind them: “. . . And I’m a black man.” I never figured out any reasonable correlation between his race and his accidental injury.
A broken back suffered literally at the hand of an old friend had confined Freddie to a wheelchair and his body concealed an unspoken fatal condition. Otherwise Freddie could function normally. But I always discovered a shit smear roughly the size and shape of an adult ferret on the tiled wall next to the toilet after he’d spent more than a minute in the bathroom. I knew that if I confronted him about his fecal calling card he’d counter with the self-pitying “crippled up” routine, or maybe out-and-out deny knowledge of any bathroom outsider art. So I had a chat with Mr. Gold in his office.
“Would you please follow me to my room? There’s something I want you to see.”
He frowned. “Look, I’m really busy right now. The bigshit Jew bosses are coming tomorrow and I’ve gotta make’m think I know what the fuck I’m doing. You know how it is.” (The runty shyster Mr. Gold had deluded himself that he could earn my friendship and trust if he spoke “honestly” to me. I’d seen through his smarmy charade at our first meeting.)
I made a gargantuan effort to keep my outrage in check and calmly explained the situation. While I spoke, Mr. Gold glanced at various papers as he placed them in designated piles on his desk and repeatedly checked his watch. When I finished presenting my case, he finally made eye contact with me and employed one of his favorite strategies—blaming me for reporting the intolerable behavior of staff members or other residents (without exception, my relatively infrequent whistle-blowing was patently justified).
“You really need to accept the reality of your situation and to try to get along with the other residents. None of the other residents ever complain, they just silently go along with the program and are happy that way. Why are you always making trouble?”
Then he resumed organizing the papers littering his desk. After a few seconds I asked if we were finished. Without looking up he curtly replied, “Yep, that’s it.”