“You want to do something fun?” she asked.
“No, never,” I said.
She stared at me with a blank look in her eyes. It may seem odd, but I hate fun. I'm a program assistant. What's a program assistant? Here are my duties (not all of them): Restock silverwear, set the table, check the dates of the food in the fridge weekly, make coffee, serve each client coffee the way they like/need it (for example, a client who is diabetic needs Sweet N' Low whereas a client who isn't diabetic can have sugar), greet clients by saying, “Good morning. How are you?” and make sure they are seated safelym unlock front door, put in false temperature on fridge/freezer and intial to verify false temperature (35/5 JSO), make Smart One for me for lunch, put on Telemundo on the television for our Latino Clients, make sure the floors are swept and mopped daily, clean the table after the clients have eaten on them, assist clients in ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), but most of my job is playing games like Dominoes, Bingo, and Rummikub with senior citizens with Alzheimer's and Dementia. Fun, fun, fun, playing games all day. Remember, it's a yellow six and a purple nine. My job is to stop these people from arguing with each other.
Then, there's sundowning. Oh, the joys of life. Life wouldn't be complete without sundowning. Then, I get to here such great things as a ninety-five year old man saying, “I have to go outside. My mother's out there. She must be worried sick.” Now, if you tell the confused man that his mother is dead and has been dead for over thirty fucking years, he'll cry non-stop for the rest of my shift so I have to say something engenious like, “I haven't seen your mother lately, but if I do, I'll be sure to let her know you're looking for her”.
I also have to know all the fun necessary names of the things: it's not a bib it's a clothing protector; they didn't shit in their pants, they soiled themselves; those aren't diapers, they're a pair of briefs. I could go on, but I think the reader gets the point.
Then, there are the unnecessary fun suprises. Someone has a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), someone falls, someone's left arm is hurting which means they're about to have an MI (myocardial infarction), someone's escaped out the front door and is trying to enter a locked car, someone soiled themselves, someone's decided it's time to take a bath and starts taking their clothes off in the middle of the room, and I could continue. Fun, fun, fun.
Everyone thinks they're the referee of the game and knows all the rules of all the games. But, I'm the one who has to answer the stupid questions like, “Did you say B 55 or G 55”? BINGO: B's are 1-15 I's are 16-30 N's are 31-45, G's are 46-60 and O's are 61-75. Every day.
This is a 9 to 5 job. Then, there's the games themselves. I stack the dominoes on top of each other to save room and the clients think the number in the middle of the stack is useable, it isn't. The client wants to know why I have to read the numbers to one client and not to them, the client wants to make sure their ride hasn't forgotten them. So, spend eight hours a day playing games with senior citizens trying to get them to not fight with each other.
Then, there's the stupid fucking questions before and during lunch. I ask, “What would you like to drink?” and the client says, “A beer”. All we have to drink is lemonade, diet cola, and water every day. And I tell this man this every day. One woman keeps asking me, “What are we having for dessert? Are we having chocolate ice cream?” Hmm, we have ice cream every day we're here, but for some reason you think we're not going to have ice cream for dessert today. And after we have dessert, this same woman asks the same question every day: “Does anyone have any ice cream they don't know what to do with?” Isn't this fun?
We've tried Farkle, Trivial Persuit, Kareoke, The Word Game, Uno, and lots of other games. But the only games they seem to be interested in are Dominoes, Rummikub, and Bingo.
For me, the idea of having fun is neausating. What I want is the antithesis of fun. I want to wood carve to soft, classical music, I want an hour massage, I want to be with someone who listens and talks instead of talks. I don't care about points in games, I care about dollars and cents, about retiring and going somewhere with people who don't need me. For a while, I thought about calling in sick with some bullshit excuse so I could relax. Something like, “I have a bad case of ammenoreah,” even though I'm male, but then I remember I work for nurses who know what ammenoreah is.
Then, less clients starting coming to where I work and I started to get to know each one. I watched Telemundo with the clients who are Latino and I learned a few words en espianial like, “Hola, buenos dias, como estas.” I learned how to ask them if they wanted coffee in Spanish. Then, one of them asked me when I came in if I wanted a hug. I always want hugs. Other clients let me hug them too. There's one woman who wound up going around and hugging everyone good morning when she came in. I got there in time so I wouldn't miss my hug.
Then, one day, the woman who hugs everyone had her son drop her off and this woman told her son, “These people are mi familia.” I thought about it. After working there for years, they became my family. These clients are my family away from my immediate family.
I know she's my daughter and she just wants to have fun with me, her father, but I don't want to play games after I just spent eight hours playing games. I hate Shoots and Ladders, hate CandyLand, hate Connect 4. I know she's young and this is what young girl's do for fun. But I just can't. I wish she would have me to a tea party with her dolls instead. I wish.
Then, it occurs to mel an evil revelation: My daughter loves games and I hate them. She has energy and I have none, and they've become part of my family, so what if . . .
I had her take a few important prerequisites on her own. My daughter's name is Chelsie and she's eight. I figured I could home school her and all of this would solve a lot of problems. I paid $20.00 for Chelsie to take an online CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resusitation) course and on her own, she passed it. Then, I took her downtown and paid $60.00 for her to have a fingerprint done for a criminal screening. I don't think either of us have anything to worry about. Come Monday, Chelsie will play games all day, make friends, and I'll finally get some rest and relaxation. Maybe even take a nap at work. Wouldn't that be nice. What could possibly go wrong?