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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Jobs 1, Scene 2

We started looking for the right agency immediately. This was when we learned that it costs a lot to have an agency find a job for someone. We also learned that we were not qualified for a lot of jobs the agencies we checked with had on their files: too young to be a cocktail waitress— have to be old enough to drink it to sell it, they said; too short a time available to even apply to a lot of the jobs—same as we had already discovered; not skilled enough to fill the requirements of any of the jobs in an entire, bulging  folder just waiting for employees to fill them— check back after you finish university, they said to us; not strong enough to work on the killing floor of the slaughter house -- thank you, God, for that deficiency of personal body structure; and on and on went the list of why we couldn’t find a job with an agency! Back to the newspapers.

 By Thursday we saw an ad that looked like something we could do and we said, “Forget calling; let’s go there, in person, and plead with them to hire us!” Which was exactly what we did.

The very next day, Joyce and I were balancing ourselves high atop backless workstools in front of a counter loaded with materials. For the next couple of weeks we spent eight hours a day carefully folding back the cuffs of latex surgical gloves and meticulously placing them on the special sterilizing paper we had already prepared. The flat sheets needed several folds to receive the gloves… slip each glove under the top flap, then fold the bottom flap over the gloves. Fold the side flaps in and, oh-so-gingerly, fold the whole packet in an exact half, taping the two halves with autoclave tape. The papers could not be prepared ahead of time. Each pair of gloves had to be done as a single unit before taking another sheet of paper and pair of gloves. Time consuming, to be sure. And if those thumbs were not pointing towards the center fold, out came those gloves and the whole process began again. One last outer sleeve and off to the autoclave for sterilization, but that was someone else’s job; we stayed put on the stools until break, lunch or end of the workday. It’s probably not surprising that we were still searching the newspapers each evening, after we finished our shift with many dozens of surgical gloves.

Then it happened, we’ packed enough gloves in papers, and they didn’t need us anymore. Oh no, out of work again, already! What’s worse than spending eight hours a day atop a backless stool that is so high your feet don’t reach the ground? Not having that job! We picked up a few odd jobs along the way… things like I sat by the bed of a sick, rather elderly man who pretty much slept all night. I was to call them if he stopped breathing or if he needed anything during the night; he never did either while I was there. Joyce was picking up a few days working as a motel maid while the regular lady took vacation days. Job-hunting was not going well and the work shifts were few and far between, or so it seemed. How would we ever make enough money to pay tuition in the fall?

“Girls, how about I teach you enough to help you get a job as nurse’s aids?” Both of us felt that a bit scary. I mean, sick people? We knew nothing about taking care of sick people. Didn’t ya have to have some kind of license or something, I worried as I listened? “You don’t need any kind of license. It’s on-the-job training, but I could teach you enough right here at home to get by. What do ya say? Shall I get my thermometer and blood pressure cuff?”

Well, Aunt Mary – a Registered Nurse for like forever—taught us all she figured we would need to know to get a job at a nursing home. How to take vital signs, make a bed with a drawsheet and hospital corners, etc. Both of us refused to apply for jobs in a hospital, though Aunt Mary was sure we would manage okay there, too. We were not so sure but, after what happened to me at the nursing home, we should have tried!

****Summer Jobs 1, Scene 3… Next Post

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