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So there I was, facing my first day at the drug detox and rehab, facing my first patient. Inside I’d felt like I was ill-equipped to do the job they asked, which wasn’t much. It was to just ask a number of questions from the clipboard the nurse handed me. As the heavy, wooden hospital door swished behind me, closing with an audible click, which echoed throughout the nearly empty room, I glanced at the patient, Chuck.

He slowly turned his head as I approached; his eyes dark, piercing. I clutched my clipboard to my chest. “Oh, so they sent a newbie in, huh?” His voice was gravel like, gruff, disdain dripped from it.

I quickly gripped the clipboard with both hands, my knuckles turning white, but my arms and hands stopped shaking. “Get a grip,” I told myself. “It’s just some questions.” But, I knew down deep just by looking at Chuck, he’d been through this before. “Yeah,” I said aloud, my voice not belaying my nervousness at all, but a blush did rise to my cheeks. “You could say that. They want me to do an intake. Are you up for it?”

“No,” he said flatly, turning his thin frame toward the streaked window.

What was I to do? If I were in his position I would want to answer a bunch of questions either, but then I remember Tom telling me that we are here to help these people. Not coddle them. We have a job to do. I took a breath and said, “Well, then I’ll be quick about it,” and then moved to four foot space between him and then window.

I smiled. He did not.