A Week Just Like Today

Friday means the weekend is here. It also means I am worn out. Here’s why, times five.

8:40 – Arrive to work a little late because I had to pick up some work-related items on the way in. Time clock rejects my fingerprint twelve times before finally letting me into the system for the day.

9:00 am – Mrs. M. actually arrives on schedule in the lobby to meet the taxi that will take her on a forty minute journey to the doctor, since her son is out of town and we don’t provide transportation on Fridays. Complains about there not being transportation on Fridays, even though we went to a lot of trouble to confirm her appointment and get the cab ride arranged.

“I miss the good old days – when my mother called the doctor, he ran to the house!” she says as I am – more patiently than I am ever known for – listening to her rant while also trying to maneuver her to the cab, help her into the cab, fasten her seatbelt, and put her walker in the back of the cab. She is still complaining when I close the cab door and wave goodbye.

9:30 am – Phones have been going crazy for half an hour, and every call is for one of the managers. Because, of course, they have a manager meeting at 9:00 until 9:30 or 9:45 every single morning.

10:00 am – Copier jams a couple times as I’m trying to finish a sort of large print job.

12:00 pm – I am told that we will have a new system for placing work orders which adds about five steps to the way I have always placed them before. This is discussed for fifteen minutes, and then I am told: “Yeah, actually you can just keep doing them the way you always have, except print out the emails.”

12:15 – Copier jams a few more times as I’m trying to finish a sort of large print job.

12:30 – I go to the bathroom for the first time since I got to work.

12:45 – Mrs. M. returns from the doctor appointment. The cab driver comes inside and says, “Do you know who is going to pay the fare?”

Blinking rapidly for ten full seconds, I finally say, “No. No, I do not.” I go to the office and enlist the sales manager to handle to fare-situation while I go and get Mrs. M. a wheelchair because she is tired and hungry and is about to miss lunch.

As I am wheeling her to the dining room, Mrs. M. continues to rant about how ridiculous it is that we don’t have transportation on Fridays, with the added complaint that we should have rescheduled her appointment. These two complaints are recycled three times as we move down the hallway, and I am amazed that I am not smacking Mrs. M. on the head repeatedly and yelling, “Shut up!” I get her pushed up to a table, and then I have to walk back to the lobby to get her walker, and walk IT back to the dining room so she can use it after lunch.

1:00 – Time clock rejects my fingerprint six times before letting me out of the system for lunch. I am so hungry that I forget it is Friday during Lent and tuck into a delicious Whopper with cheese from Burger King. My boss, who is fasting like a GOOD Catholic, watches me eat then says, “I think I might punch you in the face and take that hamburger away from you.”

1:30 – Time clock rejects my fingerprint eight times before letting me back into the system following lunch. Step through a set of doors back into the lobby and get stopped by the Director of Nursing. “I just sent a work order to have housekeeping come to the lobby to mop because someone peed on the floor in front of the coffee station?”

“Was it Mrs. M.?” I ask. That’s how mad Mrs. M. had seemed earlier.

“Yes? She just stood there and peed on the floor?”

“Okay.”

1:45 – Miss Jeanne – who once sang in a barber shop quartet, and who also taught grade school Phys. Ed. – takes her place in the lobby to scowl at Perry Mason on the TV.

2:00 – Mrs. F. – who gives me the creeps and who puts me in mind of some villainess from all the Twisted Mother-types of true crime books I’ve read throughout my life – comes up to my desk and mumbles, “Who do I need to talk to about someone coming into my room and leaving with my clothes?”

I stare at her and clench my jaws: this is a common question from her. Sometimes it isn’t clothes that are missing, but jewels and money. (She has no cash. Her son [who has visited her once in three years] pays her bill from the safety of Montana and gives her no spending money; it is only out of the kindness of the housekeepers’ hearts that Mrs. F. ever has toilet paper.) When jewels and money are alleged to be missing, it is always just after she has seen “a black man” or a “colored girl” somewhere near her room lurking in the shadows.

I take a deep breath: “Nobody has stolen your clothes. There is no way your clothes have been stolen. But I’ll have John come and speak to you about this. He’s the boss of all of us. I will make him come and talk to you.”

“Now, you people always say that and act like I don’t know what’s going on, like I’m crazy.”

I walk away from her. Because she IS crazy.

2:30 – Copier jams five times as I’m trying to finish a sort of large print job.

2:45 – Miss Jeanne – also a former clown: an actual, honest-to-God clown – continues to scowl at Perry Mason on the TV.

3:00 – I begin a frenzy of paper-folding, envelope stuffing, and stamp-sticking in order to have all the billing for 87 residents ready to take to the post office that afternoon. While folding, stuffing, and sticking, the phone rings about every five minutes or so.

3:30 – Mrs. F. approaches my desk and mumbles, “Uh, heh heh, you can just cancel that from before. Heh heh.”

“You found your clothes, didn’t you?” I ask. I clench my jaws. She nods her head.

4:15 – I finish folding, stuffing, and sticking stamps on the monthly resident bills, and start hand-delivering the 10 or 12 bills that won’t be mailed to family members for payment.

4:20 – Knock on the last door to hand a resident her bill. She starts coughing violently, and I say, “Again?” because she just got over bronchitis but it has come back. She starts crying. I have to close the door and comfort her. After we discuss what’s REALLY bothering her, I finally make her laugh and head back to the lobby.

4:25 – Take the cellular phone to the night nurse.

4:30 – Leave to go to the post office with all the folded, stuffed, and stamped items.