Monday, April 20, 2015

My 4:20 Story

Stick taps to George Scoville, who reminded me of the date. George abides.

I loved working in clinical psych, but I have to admit that once in a while the learning curve really threw me. This was especially true when I started accepting rotations in dual diagnosis and chemical dependency intervention programs. I really love that kind of work, but here's the thing: aside from Communion wine and the occasional contact high that happens when one majors in theatre, art, and yes, anthropology, my experience with chemically assisted fun was pretty much nil.

So I went from learning the alphabet soup of the DSM-V and arcana of psycohtropic drugs with their various side effects and projects timetables of maximum efficacy to completely new concepts like The Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions and New Playgrounds and, and, and, the slang. There was so much slang. I mean, I dabble in dead languages for fun and the sheer volume of street names and jargon for every blessed thing, not to mention completely new concepts that would have made Bill W. swear and break things

So I guess it should come as no surprise that I had no clue about 4:20.

A quick sidebar here:  4:20 is kid code for "Let's go out behind the vo-tech building and smoke pot." As in:
"What time do you want to go get the thing?"
"4:20."
"Nootch to the scootch" (Or whatever kids say. I'm not even going to pretend I know.)

Now my kids, who were usually fairly well behaved, found out that I did not know about 4:20, and being kids, they ran with it. For almost three weeks.

Kid: Miss Jas, I have an appointment with my psych and then my MD.
Me: No problem. What time do you need to leave?
Kid: 4:20 (The class stifles giggles)
Me: Sure. ::sighing:: We really need a clock in this room.
Kid: And Other Kid needs to see his social worker.
Me: What time does he need to leave?
Kid: 4:20.  (At this point, some of the students probably needed Depends.)

The hospital classroom had no clock and I am brutal to watches, so at around four, I would stop people as they passed by the classroom door and ask them how close it was to 4:20. This went on for some time to the amusement of, well, I guess everyone. Finally one of the psychiatrists pulled me aside during lunch and explained 4:20 to me within hearing of the kids.

This probably makes me a terrible clinician, but I couldn't be mad. I thought it was funny and they frankly had my admiration. I have a terrible poker face and they were going into week three of sending Miss Jas into the hallway of the Chemical Dependency/Dual Diagnosis program to ask various employees, social workers, doctors, and parents if it was 4:20 yet.

So that's my 4:20 story.  Happy 4:20 if that's your inclination. For me and everyone else, Happy 43rd anniversary of the Apollo 16 Moon landing.

copyright 2015 Jas Faulkner/Zen Dixie

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