It’s suppertime. I am swamped with tasks, moving chairs so walkers can get through. I weave in and out of crowded tables to pour coffee, milk, water, tea, and cranberry juice to 47 people in about six minutes and 30 seconds. On top of that, I run back to the kitchen to grab butter for rolls, and ketchup for French fries, and orange juice, because Mr. Brown always asks for it. No one is without coffee. I have the memory of an elephant and I’ve never forgotten to go get a special order from the kitchen like strawberry ice-cream, or more Sweet n’ Low. I work at River Hills, a nursing home, and word around the kitchen is that I am fastest girl there.
I am thoroughly acquainted with over 60 residents, and I know another 30 by name. After dinner when its time to clear all the dishes out of the dining room, I push residents back to their rooms, even though it isn’t my job.
When Mrs. Hoffman has to go to the bathroom, I take her down to her room and I call a nurse’s aide to help her out. Then I wait, and push her back down to the dining room. When Mrs. Hanson is cold, I find her room and grab her white sweater. It’s all worth it when I am told “You’re a helpful little girl.” or “Bless you for years.”
One night after clean up, a resident named Alvin was yelling for help. Ten minutes later he was still yelling. I went to his room and he told me he couldn’t breathe. Why hadn’t a nurse’s aide helped him yet? Someone let him suffer while the other residents were forced to listen to him. Down the hallway I spotted a nurse who was pretending not to hear. She had more important things to do, like talking to her friend on her cell phone. I helped her get her job done, because I don’t think she could’ve gotten the oxygen mask over Alvin’s face all by herself. I also reported her.
My boss trusts the kitchen staff to do their jobs correctly. People’s lives are put into our hands. If we give a resident solid food when they are only allowed to have pureed food, they could choke and ultimately die. I am happy to belong to the kitchen staff at River Hills because I know I am helping people who appreciate my hard work and helping hands. It’s safe to say that my fellow classmates and co-workers are happy to have me around when a job needs to be done, or when they need someone to talk to. I will enrich Whitewater’s community by taking those good qualities to college with me. I know I am lucky to have them. More importantly, I know I will be lucky to learn at Whitewater.
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