At sixteen, Abdias had already established himself as Walkerville’s most sought after psychologist. Of course, he couldn’t legally call himself one. His embittered rivals preferred terms like “witch doctor,” “charlatan,” and “fraud” among others that were more hateful.
One afternoon, a balding overweight man of forty paced in Abdias’ garage which served as a waiting room. Scott was oblivious to how he alarmed the other people by pacing and making angry faces.
An old black man (Abdias’ dad) eventually led Scott to the dining room inside the house. Abdias was sitting at the table wearing a T shirt and jeans. Scott had expected to see a very thin bookish kid. Instead, the young man before him was very large and muscular.
“Have a seat Scott,” said Abdias as if they had already met.
Scott’s parents had forced him into this appointment by threatening to kick him out of the house. If that was not humiliating enough, he was now face to face with a teenage “success” (and a son of Haitian refugees no less) while he, a forty year old white guy with a degree in economics, was a “failure”.
“Look, no offence,” said Scott as he took a seat “but unless you have a job for me this is a complete waste of time and money.”
“I don’t charge for this,” corrected Abdias. “People just pay what they think is fair and can afford.”
Scott looked pleasantly surprised for a moment but then sighed wearily and explained his problem.
Since finishing university, Scott had constantly been working hard yet moving backwards rather than forwards. His greatest workplace success was with an insurance company where he held on to an entry level clerical job for several years. Employers and co-workers found him weird and unpleasant. The way he talked to himself and made angry faces for no apparent reason was often described as “creepy”. The quality of his work, despite his effort, was not exceptional. He had trouble concentrating, so he was always the first targeted for dismissal. As he got older, he was treated even more ruthlessly. He was now working part time as a janitor in a factory.
He was too beaten down to feel humiliated by the work. In fact, he found it somewhat therapeutic. It was clear what was expected of him, and there were hardly ever people around to notice or care about his eccentricities. Unfortunately, Scott had just been threatened with dismissal again. The problem was that he had been asked to fill out a checklist at the end of his shift and he couldn’t do it. He had lost the ability to write.
“I can read just fine but I can’t write,” he explained to Abdias. “I noticed the first time I tried to fill out that goddamn checklist. I have a degree in economics but I can’t write. I can’t even write my name anymore.” Read the rest of this entry »