How I once shocked a client

“You’re WHAT??!”

Therapist termination
Photo (cc) by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

Let’s back up a tad… to 1990. I was nearing the end of my social-work career. For anonymity’s sake, let’s say I worked at the XYZ agency, and the shocked client was Mr. Q.

He wasn’t always shocked, oh no. I got along wonderfully with him, his wife and adolescent son. Mr. Q. was suffering feelings of loss and depression since he was stricken with a chronic illness. He felt tremendously sad and angry over the loss of his status as family breadwinner – a particularly important role in his native country in Europe.

I liked Mr. Q – except for one thing. Occasionally he would, very casually, drop an anti-Semitic remark into the conversation. Just in passing, don’t you know.

“I jewed him down, and…”

“He was like a Jew, really cheap, and…”

…you get the idea.

Those remarks cut like a razor blade; I myself am Jewish… but obviously Mr. Q. had no idea. I so wanted to say something! I was dying to! But as their family counsellor, I couldn’t. It would disrupt any trust and bonds I had forged with them. But I vowed to myself that I would speak up when our sessions came to a close!

How I looked forward to our last session together, as you can well imagine!

Finally the time came. Perfect for the Big Reveal! I was grinning inwardly at the thought of what I would say.

We were having our last wrap-up: I did my summation and all three of them contributed their thoughts.

“There’s just one last thing I’d like to mention, Mr. Q.,” I said, collecting my purse and cardigan.

“Eh? What’s that?”

“I think maybe you shouldn’t say things that are against Jews. You never know who you might be talking to.”

Shrug.

“For instance, I’m Jewish.”

He looked up at me sharply. “Eh? No!”

“Yes, I am Jewish.”

“No. You’re not.” Smiling uncertainly.

“Yes, I am,” grinning broadly by this time.

He tries another tack, telling me in a triumphant tone, “There are no Jews working at the XYZ agency!”

At this, I chortled. “Oh yes there are, Mr. Q.! There are many Jewish people working there besides me!”

I could see he was caught in a bind. He liked me – but I was Jewish! How to square this circle?!

“W-well…” he stammered, “you’re nice!”

“Mr. Q., I said patiently, smiling, you see, there are good and bad in every religion. In every nationality. In every race.”

I got up and walked to the door. We all shook hands.

The last I saw of Mr. Q. he was still shaking his head in disbelief, with a little sad smile on his face as he closed the door.

For me it was one tiny triumph, and hopefully one less anti-Semite in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 thoughts on “How I once shocked a client

  1. This reminds me of the time I was accused of being racist. I was filling in for a manager who was on maternity leave so many of the staff didn’t know me well. At the time I was engaged to my first husband who happened to African-American. I had to write a disciplinary notice to one young lady and she complained to my supervisor, who also was her aunt, that I didn’t like her because she was black. Both my supervisor and the owner of the company knew me well and also knew my fiancé so her accusations didn’t fly and she ended up eating her words.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Hard to do it in the middle of your ‘contract’ with them, though. But I guess you feel even more strongly about him than I did. I made up my mind to freak him out at the end, and that’s what i did. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Same thing happened to me in school. A girl needed some money for the vending machine. The “cool” girls turned their backs immediately. She asked others, no deal. So I stepped up. I didn’t even know this girl. She was shocked. “You’re the last person I thought would give me any money.”
    “Why is that?” I asked.
    “Because everyone knows Jews don’t part with their money,” she answered quite confidently in her belief.
    “Well, I guess you know differently now,” I answered and left her standing there open-mouthed.

    My former neighbour was describing someone at a local business. He said the guy had a habit of Jewing down the suppliers.
    I asked, “Did you say he ‘chewed’ them down? What does that mean?” (Of course, I knew exactly what he meant.)
    “No,” he said. “I said Jewed.”
    I told him quite plainly that was an insult and asked if he felt the same way about me. He was shocked and explained it was ‘just an expression’. I explained to him how it was actually an insult and that there are good and bad people of all colours and religions. He apologised.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, good! I’ve always wanted a sister 🙂
        Obviously the school incident was eons ago but I never forgot it. The neighbour incident was just 4 years ago and I was rather taken aback by it. I guess some things never change.

        Liked by 1 person

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