Today let’s take a look at how the pursuit of the dollar has humbled us.
Let’s not discuss it at the abstract or conceptual level: let’s make it real by sharing some stories.
Below are two stories from my days as an aged care nurse/hospital wardsman/general cleaner and gardener/disability care person.
Before We Begin
It should be noted that I never entered the Aged Care field with any airs or feeling of snobbery. I didn’t have any interest in the job and didn’t really want to do it initially but once I got in, I loved being with old folks, especially because their old age (and in some cases) dementia made them so real, non pretentious and friendly.
I never ever made the declaration that I was above other people’s bodily fluids or anything like that: I accepted it as part and parcel of the job before I got in. The reason I got out: because I don’t really have a passion for the industry AND I am a pretty bad nurse (and I like to imagine, a much better writer and thinker )
Some scatological humor coming your way. Don’t read this within the physical or psychological vicinity of food, anyone squeamish or uncool.
Story Number One: My Friend’s First Day
The nurse had done this many times before and knew exactly what to do. Grab the old feeble person lying on the bed. Roll them over so that they were facing them and their back was to the newbie nurse sent by the agency. Pull of the diaper pad. Grab a face washer and……….pass it to the agency nurse: No need doing the grunt work when there was an agency nurse around.
Nine point five times out of ten, the agency nurse would gladly grab that face washer and wipe that bum clean as though it were La Mancha and he was hunting for some gold. But not this day my friends and not this African. The African contorted his countenance into a look of pure surprise:
“Excuse me?” he said as he stared at the food that escaped the decaying old man.
“I don’t have all day, grab the face washer and give his bum a wash!”
Would this be the day? Would this be the moment? Would he now officially become a member of the ABC: the Australian Bum Cleaning Association?
Alas friends, today was not to be the day. For you see, our protagonist had the perfect excuse:
“I can’t do it, I’m new here!”
Now a second countenance contorted into pure confusion:
“What do you mean your new? This isn’t rocket science. Grab the towel. Dip it in the water there, wipe of all the sh………”
Shhhhhhhhh, he lost our protagonist at shhhhhhhhhhh
“I am new here! Please do it and show me how!”
And with that the young man put off the inevitability of joining the ABC. Too bad, the person whose bum he wiped to join had a much nastier treasured buried in that there diaper.
Story Number Two: Will Mwangi Find Love?
“Thank God it’s Friday night and I juuuuusssttt got paid!”
That song kept playing in my mind over and over and over and over again. A few minutes until the shift ends and then women had better watch out, there was a young aged care nurse on the prowl, and I was loaded with sanitary gloves . Sure I didn’t have much. But where money was lacking, I more than made up in testosterone and enthusiasm.
With me being in such an expectant and chirpy mood, I basically floated into the room that belonged to “the Lady” in the final minutes of the shift.
Unfortunately, the Lady had busted her nose and I was there to clean up the blood while she lay there in bed. For some reason that I can’t quite fathom, I forgot to turn on the lights as I walked into her room and the only light that showed was a tiny sliver of flourescent light from the hallway. That flourescence formed a perfect line from the hall all the way to the head of the bed where she lay and where I stood with a towel in my hand and ready to hold my jaw in the other. Let the soap opera begin.
She was smiling at me a little too much. Then again I was a young man in a nursing home, this happened quite a bit and I was used to it. I gently caressed (that must have been what she thought) her face with that face washer until all the blood was off.
I dropped the face washer back into the bucket of water and began to bounce my way out when I heard a gentle whisper:
I could say that I did an elegant swivel back to face her as Ridge would to Brook in the Bold and the Beautiful, but at that moment I looked like the black guy in the movie who had just heard the sound which everyone in the movie knows will kill him. I turned round: oh oh
“Come here,” the senior lady of the lake (if you get this reference, I’m so sorry) purred
I came to her side like a good nurse would:
“Just one what?”
“Just one KISS!”
I looked like a deer in the headlights.
“Come on, just one, just one little kiss!”
I did what any compassionate loving human being would do….I began to cackle!
“You’re bad for me you know that?”
“Come on,” she continued like a siren upon the rocks on a Scottish shore.
I slowly began to back away cackling and unable to believe that this was happening. Finally I left her with a kiss in the wind which was delivered from my lips to her cheek via a blow from my right hand. I had to give the people what they want . Now to repeat that process with a twenty year old……………