I have had the pleasure of a few pleasant interactions with this guy, and let me tell you, he's a damn riot. Bowen has the mouth of a sailor and the heart of... whatever mammal has the biggest heart. He is a self proclaimed geek, nerd, dork and spazz all in one, but I think most of all he's just a great dude. Don't let his cynicism fool you. -No Trade Jack
I have had only a few jobs in my life, I've been a construction worker, mostly tile work, I've been a janitor, I've owned my own business, hell I currently work for a church as their maintenance guy. The only job I have ever hated was being a dishwasher at a restaurant. That shit sucks ass, and not because it's nasty, hotter than hell room with boiling water seeming to run all the time, but the onslaught of wasted food. How the hell do you order a meal, and take one goddamn bite then say, “Fuck, I'm so full?” Goddamn it, people fucking die of NOT having enough food to eat and some mother fucker goes and just throws away a damn good meal? Son of a bitch, twenty goddamn years later and it still fucking pisses me off. This is also a reason I probably have a weight problem, I won't waste any food I order. All because I washed dishes for one night. One shift did that to me.
Anyway, the best job I've ever had is one I wish I didn't quit after spending nearly three years of my life being there. An old folks home. Honest to god, I loved that job. I just hated a lot of the people that were in charge and bitched about every little thing. I got hired as a housekeeper but ended up as the Floor Technician (aka everyone's bitch), you name the job and I probably did it. Someone shit on the floor, this happened all the time by the way, I was the go-to-guy to clean it up. Vomit, not a problem. Blood, diseases, flaking skin, old people hair, the guy in 23A just died? Yeah, I got that. Phlegm...?
Fuck no, you go get someone else.
I was strict when it came to work, I was a smart ass, sure, but when something needed to be done and you weren't doing it, I'd ride your ass until you either caved, and did what I was telling you to do, or you broke down into a quivering mass of human flesh. This is a good reason why they almost made me the supervisor, but I didn't want the extra work. Sixteen hour shifts, six days a week, was enough without going to useless meetings. And, scheduling people bugged the hell out of me. I did get the pay raise for being asked though, that was nice.
All extended care facilities (their proper name by the way) have the same type of staff. I've only worked at the one, but everyone tells me they are all the same. I was once told there are only 5,000 regulations on the running of a nuclear power station, and there are more than a hundred times that for an old folk's home. After one visit from the State Regulations Board, the panic that followed was enough to confirm that for me. The State showing up was one of my favorite weeks too, everything was done correctly, and they are only there to hunt the fuck ups from management all the way back to the staffing. There are nurses that think they're in charge and act like it, but most of them don't know shit and don't care either. And 90% of all workers are female, aged between 18 and 24. When I worked there, there were just ten male employees and more than a hundred people worked in that place 24/7. And the CNAs, nursing assistants, they bust their asses to do everything the nurses tell them to do. They get punched, kicked, shit on, vomited on, verbally abused, and get jack shit in pay. How do I know this? I saw it every day. And, for all that, their starting pay was $10 an hour. And every single one that was new was the same, “I'm fresh out of high school, look at my pretty all white scrubs, how can anyone complain about taking care of a bunch of grannies?” I wrote that in a high pitched voice in my head, think of Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls and you'll have what I was going for. Then, there's a kitchen staff and the housekeepers that clean everything up, split into three shifts every day. It's one of the few places that is open all the time, with as much violence happening as a 7-11.
CNAs take a ton of abuse. Why? Because of a thing called, fucking dementia. Old people with any dementia are much like toddlers, except these people wander off and the public doesn't notice that they crap themselves because they've forgotten how to get to the bathroom in time. They babble about stuff that makes no sense and can't tell you why they're upset, or hurting, or sick. Some lose their short term memory and freak out because they don't know where they are, why they are there, and have lived in the place for shy of a decade. When they get pissed off, they are adult human beings, with the full strength of one. Or, several. I once saw the aftermath of one man, who weighed no more than eighty pounds, and had no control of his arms and hands. He grabbed his CNA by the front of her shirt and threw her over his bed and into the wall. She landed four goddamn feet from the other side of that bed. All because he couldn't control his muscles. She dented the wall and ended up with a nasty bump on her head but she just brushed it off and went back to work cleaning the guy up before she allowed the nurses to send her to the hospital. And this chick was not some small woman, she was easily 250 pounds and stood close to six feet. She said, "After you've been shot as a taxi driver, getting tossed over a bed isn't anything to worry about."
One CNA I knew from high school, one of my sister's friends, had volunteered for the lock-down unit. This was where the “difficult” old people were kept. They either had a habit of escaping or wandering off out of the facility. One guy we found at a local bar ringing up a huge tab. Or, they were very violent, or just highly unpredictable, and a couple of them made the Joker look like he was stand-up citizen that helped old people across the street. It was called the lock-down because the door was locked going in and felt very much like a prison. The CNA (she's going to remain nameless just because she doesn't need to become famous for this) would be by herself for most of the shift in with all the crazies. A couple of them were great people, one old man there who turned 100 years old before dying was so freaking deaf that he had earphones hooked to a mic, turned to 11, with everyone shouting, still couldn't hear jack shit, but he would sit for hours painting. Even with nothing in his hand and nothing in front of him, he painted. He was great, he just didn't like being around crowds, which is why he ended up in the Unit.
Anyway, one night, I was in the dinning room talking with the aid because there was nothing for housekeepers to do while food was served so I got an easy break for an hour. She's feeding one person while another woman sitting next to her is talking about something in gibberish, when, between bites of food, she slams the metal fork right into the back of the CNA's hand. I'm not talking about just a little scratch, the fork went through her hand and stuck into the table. Now most people would have this thought go through their head reading that statement, “Holy fucking mother fuck, she just stabbed the chick with a fucking fork!”
And, you would be right in thinking that. But the thought I had, due to training and various other things that place instilled into me, was “Holy fucking mother fuck, that fork was just in her fucking mouth!”
I've been told stabbings from old people in homes are rare but not unheard of, and the amount of diseases that can be in a human mouth only get worse with age. If you've ever wanted to know something nasty, Google “fight bite” for the gory aftermath of someone's teeth ripping open someone's hand. It's not a pretty sight, and will haunt your thoughts for years, unless you are into that sort of thing, then you are a sick, sick person. The CNA ended up having to get shot for Hep-C, Hep-A, Hep-B and rabies among others, that I have no idea about, and she was out for a month because she got stabbed by a fork. When she got back to work, she went right back to the spot she liked, right back into that lock down, with the woman that stabbed her.
On many of my shifts I ended up working in the laundry, this job was the best in the building. I got to be by myself, I got to listen to whatever music I wanted, and as I had a hell of a system down for cleaning all that linen and clothing, it was almost always easy. My routine was the same every time, go get the barrels with the soiled stuff, separate out the personal belongings from the bedding and towels. Fill the big industrial washing machines, 100 pounds of stuff could easily fit into these things, and all the personal stuff went into a normal home style washing machine. All this took me, maybe, twenty minutes. After those machines turned on, I got the stuff out of the industrial dryers to fold or put on hangers, sometimes this took a while depending on how the asshole before me decided to end their shift. A lot of times I still didn't do any actual work for more than twenty, twenty-five minutes. And this was the same for every shift in the laundry, and I normally had the evening shift, which had nearly nothing to wash until the people were getting ready for dinner. So from the beginning of the shift, at 1 PM, until 9 PM, it was dull.
I admit, I got a ton of reading done, and watched a couple movies when I'd sneak my laptop in. No one came back to bother me, no one that would get me in trouble anyway. Those rumors of couples getting it on in the hospitals, when those are true, they happen in the laundry, because no one bothers that place. Once I had a double shift in the laundry, I did a little dance of joy, and by the time the evening shift got around I was completely caught up, so I just let the one and only load of personal clothing rotate in the dryer. For 4 hours. This was after I washed the stuff three times, and it was the cleanest anyone's clothes had ever been. And, for those four hours, there was a nice clanging noise coming from the dryer. I stopped the machine the first couple times I heard it, riffled through the stuff looking for a piece of silverware. One of the things about an old folk's home is, every one of them is capable of sneaking off with something. Sometimes it was from someone's room because they liked it and took that object with them as they wandered through the halls. Sometimes a person would horde objects because they thought about using the same stuff later. Spoons for a snack later was normal. All this stuff would end up in pockets of their clothes, wrapped in a pair of pants or shirt and the aid missed it. I always joked that when the silverware disappeared from the dinning room, it would end up being used as a makeshift shank after hours of grinding that spoon on the railing to their bed, or we'd find a hole under the bed as they dug themselves out Andy Dufresne style. But all this crap would end up either in a trash can or in the laundry bin. I found weird ass shit all the time, once there was a remote, that was so covered in human excrement that you'd think someone just crapped it out and knew this would be one good way to get it cleaned. Forks, knives, spoons, cups, coffee mugs. And most of the time I caught the stuff as I loaded the washers but that night I missed something, and after four hours of that banging noise I decided to hang up those clothes and then just sit with nothing going. I only left the dryer going for that long because if a manager or nurse decided to bug me and saw nothing running they'd tell me to go do something else for a while. I didn't want that, my laundry time was my lazy time.
So, as I was hanging up the pants and shirts I noticed one of the shirt pockets was bulging out, and pulled out a nice set of teeth. Damn nice dentures there. And, they had been washed and dried god only knows how many times that day. Set those aside to be returned to their rightful owner, and then I pulled out a shoe. Shoes were not uncommon either, but a single was and I remembered there just happened to be a guy rehabbing with a new prosthetic leg, which I then noticed was attached to the shoe. The poor guy sent his shoe, and foot, to the laundry because his roommate threw up on it. He just thought I really busted my ass trying to clean it up. And because he was happy with that explanation, I let him believe it.