I was really too sleepy to remember how but I made it to the subway for my morning commute, coffee in hand and eyes barely open. I plopped down on the first seat I saw and knocked my head back to catch a few more minutes of semi-snooze. I didn’t realize I sat beside a talker.
“Good morning! I couldn’t help but notice your scrubs. Do you work at Regional?”
I cracked my eyes open and forced a friendly smile. (I hope it was friendly. I couldn’t really feel my face.)
“Hi. Actually I do home health care.”
That didn’t put an end to things as I hoped it would.
“Oh! Well, I just find that to be so admirable! You do such great work, caring for others when most people in their life have either deserted them to live young and busy lives or passed on before them. Thank you so much for all you do. I’m sure your patients really appreciate it.”
Maybe it was the wee hour, my lack of sleep. I hadn’t had a sip of my coffee. Or maybe it was just how brilliantly cheerful her face looked. But once I started, I couldn’t stop.
“Actually, most of my patients yell at me first thing for not remembering some minor detail like putting their socks in the first drawer instead of the second. And then there’s the whole bit where I run to the grocery store and come back with the ‘wrong brand’ even though I’ve been buying them the same exact one for months…
“Some people are burdened with the hardship of having a family member go through a long and difficult dying process like Alzheimer’s or cancer. It consumes their life and drives them nearly insane just to handle and care for that one person. But I envy them actually because they have their one or two encounters. I have new encounters everyday, every way to die you can imagine. I can’t figure out why the hell I put myself through that.I guess because I still have bills to pay.
“It’s just a job. I don’t really want to know these people, nor have them shit on me. I don’t want to care about their problems. I have enough on my own. When you spend more time with the dying than your own friends and family, you start to feel like you’re dying too. They’re too old to have much of a life but I’m still young enough that I’d like to live mine. And I’d prefer for it to not include this awful job anymore.”
The woman gave me a horrified look and mumbled something about my cold heart, should be ashamed, today’s youth. I swear, she even crossed herself as she got up to move seats.
But I didn’t care. I was more pissed that I let my coffee get cold.