As the family members of registrants, it’s often hard to hear the stories of the disrespect that our loved ones endure on a daily basis. They are often disrespected by the public, media, law enforcement, city, state, government officials and others because of their status. Too often, there’s been little that registrants could do about the way they were treated.
As advocates for our family members, at the very least, we want to confront those who disrespect our loved ones by jumping in, making phone calls, sending emails or letters chastising those who have been rude or disrespectful. And let’s be honest, at the very most, there’s probably a lot of folks we’d really like to punch in the nose for being rude. (Not that I’m condoning any nose punching.) But you get the point, we want to make it all better, we want to right the wrongs of a society that mistakenly believes registrants don’t deserve any respect.
Many of us, especially mothers and fathers of adult registrants, sometimes have to take a step back and allow the registrant in our life to deal with incidences of societal rudeness on their own even though our parental instinct, the advocate in us, want to stand up and fight for our child, grown or otherwise.
Let me preface the following little scenario by saying that I’ve written in the past about registrants trying to attend AA meetings and getting the “not within buffer zone” speech by registry authorities, never getting a definitive answer as to what meetings they can attend. I still don’t understand the faulty logic since registrants are neither living, working nor loitering within buffer zones when they attend a meeting, instead, they have a specific and defined reason for being there. If you know anything about AA, you attend meetings because they help with maintaining sobriety, whether that be once a day or several times a week, with holidays being especially difficult for some alcoholics, they may really need the support of extra meetings.
A family member that’s a registrant was recently disrespected by a clerk from the local county registry office. Government officials, even a county clerk, are there to serve the people of the county, not to give them attitude. Especially uncalled for attitude.
The registrant had phoned the county office to ask a simple question, wanting some clarification on those “oh so vague” registry rules.
“What are the registry rules regarding where registrants can attend AA meetings in the county?”
The county clerk’s answer was simple, “you can attend any meetings you’d like”.
Now this was a totally different response than the registrant had received from the city registry office where he had been advised that registrants could only attend one meeting held at one specific venue, once per week. (Why there is a separate city and county registry office is anyone’s guess because as everyone knows, a city is in a county.)
The registrant then asked the next logical question, “are city and county registry rules different?”
Instead of any clarification, what the registrant got was this response from the registry clerk-
“I’m not playing that game.” Click. Hung up on.
Now perhaps this government official had been “played” by others in the past, perhaps she didn’t know the answer to the question, maybe she was always a scrooge and always rude.
Maybe she would have hung up on anyone calling to ask a question or maybe she saved her disrespect for registrants no matter how polite and respectful they were to her.
While sadly, the registrant relaying the story, seemed to take it in stride, “disrespect is just another day on the registry, more of the same run around and never any clear-cut answers” as a family member and non-registrant, it bothered me.
If I had been disrespected like that by a county official, been told “I’m not playing that game” and hung up on, I’d have plenty of recourse. I’d speak to the clerk’s supervisor, I ‘d move up the chain of command. I’d want to make sure someone spoke to this clerk about how to do her job with sensitivity and to be respectful towards everyone.
That’s not so easy for registrants. Many registrants prefer, and who can blame them, to stay low and not make waves. Don’t rock the boat, don’t complain. No one wants to be on the “bad side” of those in the registry office, there’s always the potential for them to make life on the registry more difficult than it already is. No one wants that.
So, as much as the advocate in me wanted to jump in and correct this simple but totally unwarranted act of disrespect, I had to take a step back, I can’t right all the wrongs, all the time.
I offered the registrant the names and numbers of those in the county directory (for some registrants without computer access, just finding simple county directory information can be a challenge). If he chooses to battle this incidence of disrespect, he can.
The issue of being disrespected seemed to peeve me a bit more than it did the registrant.
For the registrant, getting this kind of disrespect, had, over the years, become all too familiar.
We need to change that. Everyone deserves respect.
Here’s wishing everyone a happy and respectful holiday!