I still haven't sorted out the issues with my camera. Aside from starting my first paycheck collecting job in 19 years I have been sick with a really nasty cold. Those situations along with the early morning carpool runs have run me down quite a bit. Hopefully, next week I'll have things working. This week you'll get a story instead of a picture.
I quite enjoy the show Dirty Jobs. I get a kick out of watching Mike Rowe engage in all manner of disgusting, filthy mucking about while tossing out side comments which offer an amusing perspective on his activities. Mike is fairly easy on the eyes too, I'll admit. Mostly, it's the humor and good nature as he engages in horrifying sorts of work that brings me back when I finally get control of the remote in my house.
So this week, I thought I'd share about one (yes, there are more) dirty job I used to hold. Back in college I was in need of some income. I found out a local nursing home was hiring so I applied...to the laundry room. This might not sound too bad. After all, how hard is it to toss laundry in one machine, wait a while then move it to another machine, wait some more, then fold it all. Easy peasy.
True enough, that's not hard work. However, now you have laundry not just for a single nuclear family. You have laundry for a couple hundred people. Now let me ask you, have you ever had to strip a bed because someone vomited or wet it or, heaven forbid, had a hideous case of the runs? Now multiply the incidence of that occurrence many tens of times. Imagine piles and piles of sheets and towels full of every manner of secretion and excretion a human body can produce. Now sort them all. Please remember that you have to fully open each one to make sure the floor aides have shaken out all chunks because we don't put chunks in the washers. If you get chunky sheets you send the linens back and an argument ensues, the linens sit and ferment until the aides get around to them and then they are just a wee bit riper, though less chunky, when they come back. Mmmm, sounds good right?
Oh, I almost forgot. There's always a patient in isolation somewhere too. That means they have some sort of highly infectious problem so you have to do special things with their laundry. That's actually not too bad though. All their dirty things go in a special bag that is tied and thrown in a dedicated washer with special chemicals. The bag dissolves in the washer so you don't have to open it up and expose anyone to whatever pathogens are procreating in the dirty laundry.
So you have collected and sorted all the pooped up, peed up, slimed up, gooed up sheets, towels, and gowns. You have sorted them all one at a time wafting the fragrant aroma all about the laundry area as you shook each one. You've washed it all. Now it's time for the dryers. Hey, everything is clean now, this should be a gas. Well, that's exactly what it is. The dryer room has 4 gigantic gas fueled industrial dryers. The room is only big enough to fit the dryers, a counter that runs the length of the opposite wall, and a space between the dryers and counter just big enough to open the doors to the dryers. You must keep the entry and exit doors to this room closed. There is no AC. Rules also state there is to be not food or drink in the laundry area. The temperature reaches roughly 110 F every night. Since you work second shift and the supervisor isn't around and you really have no interest in conducting experiments as to the effects of dehydration you and your shift partner say, "Screw the no drinks policy" but you keep to water so if it spills it won't stain anything. You each use a 1.5 quart liner to a bedside pitcher to fill with ice and drink as it melts. You will go through 3 or 4 of those a shift and sweat most of it out into your uniform.
Hot enough for you? You must be getting hungry too by now. Here, let's go to the break room. It's a dim, smelly, nicotine stained hole. You may not leave the building or go anywhere but the breakroom. You are one of exactly 2 people in the whole place who doesn't smoke and this is in the days when smoking in buildings was still permissible. When you go home, in addition to carrying the faint whiff of urine and feces mixed with copious amounts of your own sweat you will also bear all the enticing aroma of an ashtray. "Hi, honey! I'm home!"
The one bright spot of the shift is when you deliver the personal laundry that the girls on first shift washed, dried, and folded. You take it to the room of each resident, some of whom are delighted to have someone come into their room. Others won't notice you at all. Still others will be quite certain you've come to steal everything they have. You've got some mixed feelings about this whole process. It's really great to get out of the stinky sweat pit but it's a little sad to be up on the floor. It reminds you why you opted to take the laundry job instead of an aide job, especially when you see and aide struggling to clean an ornery patient who has pooped up the bed for the third time. You prefer dealing with the sheets when it's not a wrestling match and AFTER they are de-chunked. That said, you do like being able to briefly visit with some of the residents and you always try to remember that their rooms are their homes so you show due respect in as pleasant and friendly a way as possible.
The day comes when you are going to be student teaching and are told not to juggle even a part time job with that endeavor so you give notice. During the exit interview you are asked if you might consider coming back during the summer. You want to make perfectly clear you have zero intention of that without being rude so you reply, "I expect to be leaving the country for a long time."
Now it's your turn. Tell me about a dirty job you've had. If you don't have a dirty one just tell me about one you'd never return to.