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Kelly, a 25 year old patient in the psychiatric hospital, walks by me and yells “old man!”

Thirty minutes later she walks by me again and yells, “grandpa!”

And then, a little later, as she passes me, she yells “Jew!”

The truth of the matter is that she is correct. At age 68, I guess someone might say I’m old, especially with my shining white beard. And, yes, I am blessed to be a grandpa. And proud to be Jewish.

The cool thing about working in a psychiatric hospital is that barbs like this get cast my way every day. In contrast, threats of violence happen two or three times a week. And legal threats about once a week. I don’t ask for these, but admittedly I do get constant practice in self control, in keeping calm no matter what is thrown my way.

I’ve also learned that emotional pain, like Kelly’s, expresses itself in different ways. Sometimes you have to look beyond the barbs and the threats to find it.

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