The Top Block
My mom told me to think of this job as a building block to something better. It’s not my ideal job, but soon, maybe, I can work somewhere else.
As I pulled up to the three story, hotel looking building, I couldn’t help but notice the color– gray. A dreary gray, a boring gray. How depressing.
Serving food to old people in this gray building was not something that looked or sounded enjoyable. But I wasn’t in a position to decline.
I felt like the color of the building. I was slow, and my questions were irritating. I knew I could do better, but for some reason I wasn’t. My mom told me it takes time to learn new things, but I didn’t want to take the time. I wanted to be as good as everyone else working there. I didn’t want to be slow and clumsy.
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But I guess my mom knew best, because I sped up and I got to know the people I served.
They weren’t just old people anymore. They became Mary form the second floor who likes two cups of ice at every meal, so she can take them to her room. And Sy who, when impatient, taps his glass with his fork. And Dottie, who makes her grand entrance ten minutes late to every meal, and is always the last one to leave.
I learned their quirks and their personalities, and suddenly, the job wasn’t so terrible. I didn’t notice the gray anymore. And I started to realize that this was the ideal job, and there weren’t anymore building blocks. This job was the building block—the top block.
Of course, working in a nursing home has its downsides. Every so often, someone will disappear from the dining room, and their empty chair reminds us of the gray again. But other people take their place and it becomes normal, and the gray again recedes.
After seven months of working here, I’m still the same in some ways. I’m still that clumsy server who drops silverware and the occasional plate. But my outlook is different. I try to not notice the gray in life, and when I do, I don’t dwell on it. Because the gray will eventually go away. And why does Mary take the ice up to her room? We’ll it’s been eight months and I still don’t know.