Kelsey stood at the receptionist counter putting all of her weight into the stack of papers she was trying to squeeze into the stapler. She brought her fist down on the stapler only for it to jam again through the first five pages.
Dwayne’s mother, Kelsey, worked as a receptionist and chief accountant at the Meridian Retirement facility. A nice way to name a hospital for elderly folks whose children can’t or won’t take care of their parents any more. The longer Kelsey worked here, the more she hoped Dwayne never put her in a place like it.
“Hey Shantell, could you take care of this real quick?” she called back into the office cubicles hidden behind a wall behind the counter. The facility was so short handed on nurses that Kelsey did more than just her own job. Helping to handle, calm or just talk to not only visitors, which was her job, but the residents living there as well. The kitchen was just next to the front door where she sat and she had a good view into it. At that exact moment, Genie, a fickle, rather mean old lady, was sitting too close to another resident named Andrea whom Kelsey knew was developing Alzheimer's, fast.
Andrea, a short petite woman who was probably one of the nicest old ladies a grandchild could hope for was sitting quietly in her wheel chair. Kelsey poked her head into the back room where Shantell was standing up to come help with the stapler, “Genie again, maybe,” Kelsey explained
“Okay, no worries,” Shantell replied walking towards the stack of papers while Kelsey made her way into the kitchen, dining area. Kelsey slowly wandered toward where the women sat as if she were just happening by.
“You’re that women who poured her hot chocolate in my lap,” Andrea said frowning at Genie who was sitting so close their knees were nearly touching.
“I did?” Genie replied with a straight, innocent face. Kelsey carefully made her way up to the two. She wasn’t sure if there would be a problem but she certainly did not want to cause one herself. There were no forms of punishment here, or any kind of real restraining even. It wasn’t a day care, it was a retirement facility. Sometimes you had to come up with creative ways to keep the old folks in line; and Genie took a lot of creativity.
“Yes you did. Don’t ask me that! You… you sat there drinking your hot chocolate complaining it was too hot… and poured it in my lap,” Andrea said growing flustered, and probably trying to remember exactly what had happened.
“I did?” Genie replied again with the same half worried tone, one shoulder dropped a little giving her almost a vulture like stance. Kelsey frowned slightly; Genie didn’t have any sort of memory problems. She just had bad legs and kept falling over. She broke her pelvic bone, then after the surgery and some time recovering in a wheel chair, she fell and re-broke it. Kelsey didn’t think that was why the old woman was at Meridian though. She had always assumed the womans' children were fed up with her.
Andrea’s frown stretched, making the lines on her forehead deeper, “Yes you did!”
“Come on Genie, let’s leave Andrea alone," Kelsey said finally breaking in. "I think she was enjoying her breakfast, and can't eat if she is talking." As always she had to make her voice sound as sweet and caring as possible. That was a requirement for the job; to care, and be sweet to the elderly.
Genie gave a “humph,” and stood from the table to her walker next to it. She scooted her feet towards Kelsey on her roller, then turned and leaned into Andreas face "You got a good memory,” she said in a half mocking tone.
“Come on Genie,” Kelsey said again more sweetly, and urgently, encouraging the old woman to follow her and sit somewhere else.
Looking at the stack of papers Shantell had managed to staple together, Kelsey shook her head in admiration. Shantell was sitting in her cubicle again out of sight behind Kelsey's desk. She had probably missed the whole thing. She did not know how long that woman had worked here, but that it had been long enough that things like Genie didn’t seem to bother, worry, or even humor her anymore.
“I was talking to Kevin,” came her voice from the around the corner of the wall. “Says that locking them in their room is ‘detrimental to their mental health’, and illegal and other things,” she said mimicking the voice of their supervisor Kevin. Kelsey nodded almost in agreement to herself. Shantell walked around the corner to face Kelsey, “but he also told me that because she’s on a walker, with her history of broken hips, we can place her in a wheelchair, ‘for her own safety’,” quoting him again, “and all of the wheelchairs are outfitted with a, ‘counter’, that they can set stuff on above their lap without having to hold things in their hands while they try to move around.” Kelsey nodded again, trying to follow. Shantell lowered her voice a little making her sound devious, “They also act as a restraint from keeping these folks from falling out of their chairs, or from standing up and hurting themselves... or dumping hot chocolate on other residents.” She said with a straight face but her voice full of glee.
“I think we need to talk Kevin into getting Genie in one of those,” Kelsey said with a sideways grin. “She might hurt herself if we don’t do something.”
“Uh-huh. Way ahead of ya, sista’,” Shantell said turning around back for her cubicle. She stopped at the corner and added, “He’s working on it now.